With so much bleak financial and global news at the moment Resources for Autism appears to be bucking the trend in gloom and doom. Currently we are awash with words like ‘expansion’ and ‘extension’ and ‘increase in delivery’ and I am delighted that is the case. It is estimated that 1% of the entire population are on the Autistic Spectrum. That is a lot of people needing appropriate support and care. As an organisation we are committed to improving the quality of life for both our users and their families and it is only by providing high quality, local and accessible practical services that we can do so.
We have an astute group of Trustees who ensure that we do not over-reach ourselves despite increasing demand and their rule is that if we do not have the funding to run something for at least a year then it cannot start. That sometimes makes it hard to begin something new and innovative as services need to exist to prove they are effective. It is in those circumstances that we need imaginative funders who are prepared to take a risk and the Cinven Company Trust has done just that with our new Autism to Autism project. For two years they are going to be funding a new project that will support adults with a diagnosis of Autism or Aspergers Syndrome to help others on the spectrum as volunteers. I believe this project will do much more than it says on the tin. Giving adults with autism the opportunity to work, albeit voluntarily, in an environment that is relatively safe but that is part of the wider community, is the first step for many into the world of paid work. Some of our adults will always need support but this may be just having someone to check in with each week to gain reassurance or to intervene on their behalf if things are going awry but before they turn into a disaster. For many just gaining confidence and learning the rules that govern survival in a work environment will be enough and this project will give those skills. Cinven have taken a risk supporting us and we are going to make the very best use of their generosity to prove that adults with autism have a great deal to offer their community given the chance. One of our current volunteers who gives invaluable help to us three days a week says of her experience ‘‘All my life I have been on the outside looking in. Now I am content looking out and that would not of been possible without the kindness and understanding I have received from everyone at Resources for Autism’ She has a diagnosis of autism and has had really awful experiences of trying to work and hopefully her time with us is giving her the confidence to try again when she identify a suitable paid vacancy with an employer who is willing to make the very few adjustments necessary to make her comfortable in a work setting.
Another huge positive is the appointment of our new West Midlands Manager. Laky Sahota is a very experienced voluntary sector manager who is joining us to help develop our services in the West Midlands. He has many years experience in play and youth work settings including a long stint at managerial level with Play England. He has already brought energy and charm to our team and I have no doubt that his skills will see our services in the West Midlands continue to develop and thrive.
I am never complacent and I am aware that we have been extraordinarily lucky in weathering the external storms so far but I remain very positive about our future and there are three main reasons for my optimism.
- · I have a wonderful staff team who are well trained, well supported and full of compassion.
- · We provide services that people want and value and that meet our users needs.
- · We have your support!
I am always pleased to hear from you and if you do want to get in touch just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope the New Year brings you peace, happiness and good health.