Person we support smiling at the camera showing off his new laptop

Mark’s small sparks

What can Discovery’s Supported Employment or Small Spark grant do for you, or someone you support?

Meet Mark, a lively, inspiring 49-year-old gentleman from Bridgwater who is enthusiastic about making the world a better place for autistic adults and people with learning disabilities.

Mark is employed by the University of Gloucestershire and the University of Bristol, where he regularly speaks to audiences of 250 people about what it is like to live with a learning disability and how he became #independent with the help of Discovery’s Supported Employment team.

“I have my own bank card now, so my money gets paid directly into my bank instead of relying on my support worker.”

Mark Smith
Gina Pring, Supported Employment Officer

Gina Pring is Mark’s Employment Coordinator with Discovery’s Supported Employment team, she helps Mark find paid employment.

“Mark is a very inspirational speaker; he has a brilliant sense of humour and is so effective at bringing people together.”

Gina Pring


Mark is also a proud pioneer of #MyGPandMe – a campaign run by Dimensions to help doctors’ surgeries become more accessible for autistic adults and people with learning disabilities. Mark advises GPs and medical staff on how to support autistic adults and people with learning disabilities better, such as having:

  1. Large print
  2. Large pictures of the body
  3. A dedicated line that a carer, support worker, or somebody with a learning disability can ring

As a result, there is now a dedicated line at Mark’s local surgery.

Now I want to concentrate on dentists. I think Dimensions should include dentists in #MyGPandMe because I think they can benefit. I know because I have first-hand experience, I bit into a burger and lost a tooth!

Mark Smith

Small Sparks:

Mark is an outgoing individual who thrives on connection. He is both inspired and inspiring when it comes to making a difference in his local community, and the isolation and loneliness of lockdown hit him hard.

So, Gina, Mark’s supported employment officer, supported Mark to become a recognised Covid-Champion (advisor) and apply for a Small Sparks grant, which funded Mark to get a laptop and expand his speaking career online.

“Mark is doing magnificent work with #MyGpandMe, so we’ll be doing more there and also looking for more speaking work both on and offline”

– Gina, Discovery Supported Employment Officer.
Person we support smiling at the camera showing off his new laptop

Mark says:

“I now do drop-in sessions at Bridgwater hub in the YMCA, on a Thursday from 10:30 -1pm, open to anyone in the community who is autistic or has learning disabilities and wants pointers on getting the support they need.” ~

Mark will be sharing his Small Spark Story at The Discovery Community Fund Webinar on 8th September – get to meet him and ask him questions by registering here.