Positive Dyslexia – Part Two

My Work For Charity, and How It Helped Me


Today’s blog is by Arran Smith, Dyslexia Advisor for Nessy, who tells a heart-warming story of his journey with dyslexia, from his struggles in school to his charity work with the Leicester Dyslexia Association and working for the British Dyslexia Association. This is part two discussing Arran’s later life and career, click here to read part one.


Leicestershire Dyslexia Association/Getting Involved with Charity

During my working career I’ve done many things, a lot of charity work at first with a local youth organisation. I was a labourer for six months on a building site, I know what you’re thinking – a lad with dyspraxia pushing a wheelbarrow?! I spent many years in a retail store and was promoted as a supervisor but people didn’t and still don’t understand dyslexia.

Afterwards, I got involved with a lot of charity work for the Leicestershire Dyslexia Association, because they helped me so much when I was younger. When I was about 9 years old, my parents took me to the independent charity based in Leicester, which supports children and their families with dyslexia. I use to attend an hour workshop every Saturday morning, learning how to touch type on the computers, with a tutor. At age 14 I was moved up to the older group, but I decided to still go back to the Saturday morning session to help out in the computer room.

I got further more involved in this charity by helping at drop-in sessions and lectures. I supported the committee at large events at Leicester University, and was then asked to join the committee as a young representative. The charity is affiliated to the British Dyslexia Association and in 2006 they awarded me with ‘The BDA Young Achievers Award’ for the volunteer work I’d done in Leicester which really helped me to grow in confidence.


How the BDA (British Dyslexia Association) Helped Me

I got more involved with the British Dyslexia Association during my retail years and I’d joined their management board as a Non-Exec Director and Trustee. I’d also joined the Local Association Board as a Young Person Representative because I was very involved with the BDA, and what was going on in the world of dyslexia. I applied for a vacancy to be the Membership Development Officer for the BDA and got the job! I went to conferences, set up after-school workshops, supported Local Dyslexia Associations, and so much more.

Working for someone that doesn’t understand dyslexia can really knock your confidence and really stress you out. The British Dyslexia Association had a vacancy which I applied for and I felt very happy to be appointed the Membership Development Officer. As part of this job I did many activities including setting up after-school workshops, supporting the BDA membership structure including Local Dyslexia Associations (LDA’s), I went to conferences and supported with commercial activities including an online shop along with driving the BDA “Dyslexia on the move” van.

Due to changes at the BDA, life changed in April 2016 and I started my company and have been able to build a portfolio for my working life including working with Nessy as their Learning Key Account Manager.

If I’m honest, I still struggle with reading, writing and spelling but I overcome this by using technology and strategies to support me in everyday life. I still sometimes get stressed and worry but I am learning to look at the positive side of things. I can now share with people that, if you understand your dyslexia and understand your strengths you can be positive about dyslexia. I still remember one parents evening when my support teacher told my parents that they should not expect too much of me, and that I wouldn’t amount to anything because “he can’t read or spell,” and since then I have taken these steps, and proved them wrong!