Volunteer shares experiences of Asperger’s Syndrome to encourage young people to speak up

A 24-year-old woman in Dorset has been leading the charge in helping health and care services in the county understand the issues affecting young people.
Joely has been leading the charge in helping health and care services in the country understand issues affecting young people

Joely Colmer, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has volunteered with Healthwatch Dorset for nearly three years. An active and passionate member of the community, she’s worked hard to encourage children and young people to speak up about what they think of local health and social care services.

Joely has shared her own, often painful experiences, to give others the courage to share their story. She supported Healthwatch Dorset’s Be Yourself Everybody Else Is Taken project, designed to encourage children and young people to express their views creatively through drawings, paintings, videos, poems and essays. Her blog was shared with colleges, schools and youth groups and helped to encourage over 600 children and young people to take part in the project.  

Healthwatch Dorset invited health and care leaders to an event in March 2017 to share what they’d found and Joely was the main speaker at the event. She made a real impact on everyone attending by giving a powerful speech about her experiences growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome. The "Be Yourself" project is now on summer tour, currently on display at Poole Lighthouse Centre for the Arts, and will be used to launch a new Dorset Healthcare NHS Trust children & young people's service improvement project later this year.

Thanks to Joely and everyone who took part in the project, health and care professionals in Dorset now know more about the issues affecting children and young people in Dorset.


The more that people share their ideas, experiences and concerns about NHS and social care, the more services can understand when improvements are needed. But, to make the biggest difference, we need to hear from more people.

You can make a difference. Find out more about our #ItStartsWithYou campaign or share your experience with your local Healthwatch and help make services better for your community. It starts with you.

Do health and social care services know what you really think?

Share your ideas and experiences and help services hear what works, what doesn’t, and what you want from care in the future. 

Speak to your local Healthwatch