A YOUNG man has come to terms with his autism after putting his energy into raising cash for Clacton’s lifeboat crews.

Samuel Franklin, 29, who struggled with confidence and socialising, raised £654 by holding a sponsored walk and swim.

Sam, who has spent the last three years attending an independent living program for those on the autism spectrum, is now a volunteer fundraiser for the RNLI.

When he came to the program, run by charity Bright Lives, he lacked confidence and struggled to talk to strangers – but now they say he has self-worth and regularly meets new people and goes out with friends.

“Sam has always lived in Clacton and always had a soft spot for lifeboats”, said Michael Jones, chief executive of Bright Lives.

Some on the autism spectrum can find everyday scenarios – such as shopping, job interviews or sports – exceptionally stressful.

“He’s come so far – he applied to be a fundraiser at the RNLI and went to an interview,” added Mr Jones.

“He’s now spending less time in his room and more time meeting new people.”

Sam now hopes to move on from Bright Lives and find his own place to live.

Steve Cole, Clacton RNLI’s volunteer fundraising manager, said: ‘It has been a great pleasure to work alongside Samuel, and welcome him to the fundraising team.

“Having seen his determination in his personal efforts, I truly believe he will be a great asset to the team.”

Sam’s stay with Bright Lives was part of a pilot project, which has seen three other success stories.

Michael Jones says the non-profit wants to help as many people as possible and is opening another independent living centre in Colchester for up to 50 people.