I am writing this on Halloween, traditionally the day that we are meant to experience all kinds of horrible things. Sadly for many of our families horrible things happen all too often. This half term we only provided one half term holiday scheme and many parents have been deeply disappointed that there has not been more. Some report absolutely no alternative for their children during the week and have had to miss work to spend a frustrating and isolating week at home with no activities their child was welcome to attend. It is hugely sad that organisations such as ours have to chose between providing services or between a little for the many or more for the few, but with limited income that is what we are faced with.
Halloween is also traditionally a time of taking stock. It is when people looked at what they had achieved over the bounteous spring and summer and how it would last them over the hard winter to come. Resources for Autism has been extremely lucky (or extremely well managed!) and have been successful at winning tenders for services, achieving positive results from carefully crafted lottery bids and generous grants from many Trusts and Foundations. However, we have to manage these with care and ensure that our funding lasts not just the winter but for the foreseeable future while we continue to try to find new and inspirational sources of money to enable us to provide the services our users want and deserve.
Amongst those services, we have just started an exciting women only adult group in partnership with Community Focus. Girls and women with autism often find themselves in groups dominated by boys and men as diagnosis is around 75% male. For some having contact with other girls and women can be reassuring and helpful and the group is creating a great deal of interest. Also new is our Autism to Autism volunteering project which is about to get off the ground. We have a number of volunteers who themselves have a diagnosis of autism or aspergers and who want to help others. They are excellent volunteers but often need just a little extra support and this project aims to ensure that support is available and that we can grow this project to attract more people with autism who would like to contribute to the world around them but are denied the possibility due to their difficulties.
Our West Midlands service is about to grow too and the summer seeds have been sown for this with a Reaching Communities grant from the Big Lottery and a new manger for the region about to be appointed. Resources for Autism has very few managers. Our aim is to spend every penny we get on front line services but those services do need someone to keep the wheels oiled and as it is now clear we are set to stay in the West Midlands and hopefully continue to grow what we do this seems a sensible move which will hopefully be cost effective in the long run.
So this Halloween finds me looking back over a successful summer and cautiously optimistic for the winter ahead. I don't feel too scared of the demons and devils out there but I am aware that wearing garlic round my neck and feeling hopeful is not enough and we must continue the hard work needed to offer the very best services we can for as many as we can while we look ahead for an even more fruitful spring and summer next year.
As always I welcome your comments and am always delighted to hear from anyone regarding what we do and how we do it. firstname.lastname@example.org
Very best wishes