Jamie Preece, Service User Representative at Barnsley Hospital has been shortlisted for an NHS Parliamentary Award in The Volunteer of the Year Award category. Jamie was nominated by Barnsley Hospital and  selected by Angela Smith MP and who put him forward as a finalist.

Jamie was born with Cerebral Palsy and struggled to make himself understood to people outside of his immediate family until he started using a communication aid – a form of what is called Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

Jamie’s involvement with the Assistive Technology Team began six years ago. Before that, he had no means of verbal communication due to his condition and was referred to the team for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and from the team’s involvement, has been communicating via his device since.

Jamie now volunteers as a service user representative with the Barnsley Assistive Technology team, who provide specialised AAC throughout Yorkshire and Humber. Jamie’s involvement with the Assistive Technology Team began six years ago. Jamie supports the team in training speech therapy students, interviewing candidates for jobs, innovative research and developing resources for other service users.

In his spare time, Jamie runs Facebook support groups, so continuously sharing his knowledge and experience of Assistive Technology locally, regionally and nationally. He supports disabled bike riders and is planning a 24-hour climbing challenge to raise money for charity.

Simon Judge, Service Lead for Assistive Technology Team says “Jamie’s input to our team has been essential over the past three or so years to ensuring that, as a team working with those with the most significant disabilities, we remain focused on the needs of our service users.  Jamie is able to travel to work and carry out this role with the team because of his use of his communication aid – which is part Jamie’s Augmentative and Alternative communication (AAC) strategies that he uses to ensure he can communicate and participate in life. Jamie’s deep understanding of the real challenges and also benefits of using AAC help us better deliver our services to meet the real needs of our service users.  Jamie also inputs into improving the design of communication aids, both through our service provision, research and development and consultation with the communication aid manufacturers. To our knowledge Jamie is the first service user using AAC in the country to have an honorary role with a team such as ours and he is very much forging the way in developing the role and how we can best include our service users in the delivery of our services.”