Working at Newcastle Civic Centre: Azhad’s Case Study

Azhad Fauzi, one of our students from Hedleys College and Horizons, has been given the opportunity to work within the SEND department at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Above photo: Azhad Fauzi in front of the chest of arms in the council chambers at Newcastle Civic Centre.


The Hedleys Beyond team began working with Jillian Bauld, the SEND Voice team manager within the Children Education and Skills Directorate within Newcastle City Council, in November 2022.  A volunteer position was identified with the team to fill the gap in gathering the voices of students with SEND who attend mainstream schools.

The focus of the role is to create opportunities in which students can share their voices in the development of the local offer website, reviewing access to sporting opportunities for people with disabilities and give a platform for other topics which are identified by students as being important to them.

Azhad applied for the role, attended a virtual interview, and was successfully appointed.  Part of the recruitment process involved a DBS check as Azhad would be working with young adults; this gave Azhad a feel for the world of work: needing to provide ID and proof of address, understanding why those checks need to be made, and waiting for those checks to come back before starting in his role.

As the recruitment process progressed, the Hedleys Beyond team visited the Civic Centre, where Azhad would be working, to complete a Health & Safety risk assessment to ensure a safe working environment.  The Hedleys Beyond team worked closely with the SEND Voice team to ensure the relevant equipment was sourced to support Azhad in his work; this included the use of a raiser desk to accommodate his powerchair, and a joystick mouse.

As the volunteer role was a hybrid working model, a space was identified within college for Azhad to access for “working from home” weeks.  Newcastle City Council supplied Azhad with a work laptop and mobile phone; a monthly diary was shared with him, so he knew which days he needed to be at the Civic Centre and what meetings were taking place.  Azhad’s support worker took on the role of Job Coach and was given the required information to support him in completing the work to the standard required.

Above photo; Azhad at his desk in Newcastle Civic Centre.


Since starting his volunteer role in January 2023, Azhad has:

  • Spoken in front of 150 people at a conference on SEND.
  • Addressed Newcastle City Council Cabinet meeting on issues he faces as a person with special educational needs.
  • Written an article for The Journal newspaper on his placement with Newcastle City Council, his love of BOCCA and how he feels there aren’t enough sporting facilities in the city for young adults with SEND The Journal online (
  • Attended a meeting with Holiday Activity Fund Providers to upskill them on ways to become more inclusive for children and young adults with SEND.
  • Azhad even got to meet the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Karen Robinson.

It has been wonderful to see Azhad grow in confidence over the last few months and hear the positive feedback from Newcastle City Council as well as his Job Coach, who has seen first hand what this opportunity has done to boost Azhad’s skills and confidence.

Above photo: Azhad with the Lord Mayor of Newcastle.


Azhad’s thoughts:

I applied for the position as I thought it sounded interesting and I think it is a good idea to get the voices of young people with SEND to help improve services for them.  When I started my placement I was very happy, excited and was really looking forward to getting started; my placement is going really well, and I love going to the Civic Centre on Mondays!  This placement has helped me develop my IT skills, communication skills and has given me confidence to speak in groups.

The highlights for me are that I feel valued and a part of the team, and I have made friends.  Since being on placement I have met the Mayoress, had an article published in The Journal newspaper, spoken in front of hundreds of people at a conference and addressed a Newcastle City Council Cabinet meeting. I feel like my opinions are valued and that makes me very happy.


See photos from his work at Newcastle Civic Centre below: