Meet Cristyn Jones .......
Some people say that their best friend is their dog and for Cristyn Jones that’s certainly true.
The 18-year-old animal lover has transformed her life thanks to a very special companion and help from Working Denbighshire.
Cristyn, from Rhyl, came to Working Denbighshire 18 months ago. For the past five years, Cristyn has been living with anxiety which had made it difficult for her to live her life as she would like. Chronically shy, Cristyn is autistic and also has epilepsy.
Attending college was overwhelming for Cristyn and she had left a travel and tourism college course as a result. But her love of animals has now set Cristyn, who is being mentored by Working Denbighshire’s Siobhan Hughes-Jones, on a different path.
“Before we could look at training or employment for Cristyn one of the first things we needed to do was help her with her anxiety. Cristyn left the college course as her social anxiety meant she found it overwhelming. We funded a course to help her learn how to handle social interactions with little tasks each week to build up her confidence.”
By spending time with Cristyn, Siobhan discovered the teenager’s love of animals and that she had taken in a rescue dog, a Bedlington Terrier called Bruce.
Three-year-old Bruce came from the Pet Rescue Welfare Association in Dyserth. Siobhan hit on the idea of securing Cristyn a placement at the rescue centre.
“I was actually a little scared of dogs before I got Bruce,” said Cristyn. “But he became my best friend. Siobhan came to the placement with me in the early days to help my confidence and together we’d walk the centre’s dogs and look after the other animals. By looking after the dogs there and from caring for my own I realised I’d like to consider dog grooming.”
Siobhan found an assistant dog grooming course at Llysfasi College. The fact the course is part-time was more manageable for Cristyn and Working Denbighshire paid for her to attend.
“Cristyn has almost completed the course and when it finishes in May she’ll leave with a qualification. We’ve been able to help her on so many levels – building her confidence, finding work experience, and paying for training. We’ve also funded the dog grooming equipment, such as clippers and scissors, she needed to take the course. It is amazing how far Cristyn has come in 18 months. We’ve held her hand when she needed it and will let her go when she’s ready.”
Cristyn has also found the confidence to apply for jobs. Working Denbighshire helped Cristyn develop her CV and she will be joining the team at Rhyl’s new SC2 water park, helping out in the cafés during busy periods. In the meantime, Working Denbighshire continues to support her as she looks for work with a dog groomers’ or considers starting a further college course.
Cristyn is delighted with the turn her life has taken. “I can’t believe how much has changed. Before I came to Working Denbighshire I wouldn’t go anywhere on my own. Now I’ve had work experience, been for interviews, nearly completed a college course and found something I love doing. I hope one day to open my own dog groomers and I’ve got my eye on my mum’s garage!” she said.