Autistic Hartlepool student full of praise for supporters after setting up art publishing house

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A COLLEGE student has become an award winner for the artistic way he has developed.

Hartlepool man Paul Whitlock, 21, is proof that the home education system really works.

Paul, who has autism, learned at his own pace and worked with other family members to set up a publishing house called Monkeyhound.

It has published comic books and had pages published in Aces Weekly, a digital comic art magazine established by the artist and co-creator of V for Vendetta, David Lloyd.

Paul’s superb efforts have won him the Individual Award under the European Social Fund scheme which encourages people who are unemployed, or at a disadvantage in the labour market, to develop their skills.

He has also just completed his Level 1 BTEC in art and design at Cleveland College of Art & Design.

He sought help for Monkeyhound from Hartlepool Borough Council’s Family Wise project which receives funding from the ESF scheme. It was also officials from Family Wise who nominated Paul for an award.

Paul’s home education meant he learned things that he liked and which interested him. He took an active part in the project-led curriculum and said: “I think my individual creativity is there because I was, and still am, supported, encouraged and allowed to develop in my own way and at my own pace.

“I think I’ve been very fortunate in this way, whether it was my home education, which included setting up Monkeyhound, working with Family Wise, Hartlepool Borough Council, Jobcentre Plus, Avanta and now CCAD, I’ve been given the necessary time and space to properly develop my creative abilities.”

His hopes for the future were to develop his skills “into a means of not only supporting myself financially, but helping others do the same”.

Although Paul has been involved in setting up a publishing house, he admitted: “I look forward to the time, hopefully in the near future, when it can be seen as a viable business. For now it operates as a means of displaying the professional quality of what Monkeyhound can accomplish.”

But Paul admitted his award was down to the support of a lot of people. He added: “I’ve been given a lot of support, help and encouragement in my life and it continues still.”