MORE than 2,800 people in Birmingham & Solihull living with autism have benefited from a project which provides vital funding for support services, new figures reveal.
Education and training charity Landau has awarded more than £800,000 in grants to the charity sector organisations in the region to help improve services which support the health and wellbeing of autistic people, their families and carers.
The Midlands-based charity’s All Age Autism Support Service (AAASS) revealed the figures at a stakeholder event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Solihull on September 27.
Phil Taylor, Chief Operations Officer for Landau, said the AAASS had been hugely successful in supporting organisations to deliver new and improved services to people living with autism.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved with this project. As well as grant support, this project has seen the creation of a service directory providing a single point of access to support services in Birmingham and Solihull.
“We also have an online referral process for use by professionals and self-referrals which provides access to free support services through AAASS grant-funded projects and we are soon to launch a mobile App to increase accessibility to services.
“There is no doubt that this project is having a real impact on the lives of autistic people and their families, and we would urge anyone who is struggling to seek support from the services showcased in the directory.
“There are organisations that can provide social and emotional support, guidance on sleep, after-school clubs, employability, parental support and much more.”
Those attending the event heard from Solihull-based Alex Manners, neurodiversity and autism speaker, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 10.
Alex spoke of the struggles and challenges he faced at school, the fight his parents endured to get the support he needed throughout his education and the need for a greater understanding of autism and Asperger’s within education and society.
He applauded the AAASS project saying:
“The All Age Autism Support Service is amazing. If it had been available 10 or 15 years ago it would have made a massive difference to my life and to the support, I and others would have received.”
To date, 32 organisations have been awarded AAASS grants, several of which attended Wednesday’s event to talk about how the funding was enhancing the current local offer to support autistic people.
Laura Watts is from Birmingham-based Children’s Quarter – a cooperative alliance of groups that provide support and inclusive services for disabled and vulnerable children, young people and their families.
“We have parents in our network who are really struggling, and this funding has made a real difference. One of the biggest barriers for parents of autistic children is the lack of childcare provision and that often means they cannot work.”
One mother, who has four autistic children and was given access to three days of childcare during the school holidays through services run by the Children’s Quarter, said:
“Laura was like a fairy godmother in helping us to access these services. The funding is really helping families like ours – it was a real lifesaver. I felt like my children were like any other children and not discriminated against.”
The All Age Autism Support Service is being led by Landau with funding provided by National Health Service England & NHS Improvement (NHSEI) in partnership with the Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group.
Through the service, important partnerships have been formed with Birmingham City Council, Serco UK, the Department for Work and Pensions and other private and public sector organisations.
Applications for grant funding have now closed but those looking to access services can visit the directory: https://www.aaadirectory.co.uk/.
Landau, which operates across Shropshire, Herefordshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its work in Promoting Opportunity through Social Mobility in 2021.