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Sunday, 18 April 2021
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During Autism Awareness Week, foundation highlights some causes it has supported

Autism Awareness Week is a chance to speak up for the rights of autistic people and highlight the social, economic, health and educational obstacles that many autistic people face. Kent Community Foundation has been looking back at some of the funding it has awarded to good causes that work with autism across Kent and Medway.

Bemix CIC works predominantly within the communities of Canterbury, Dover, Thanet, Sittingbourne, and Medway to support people with learning difficulties and or autism to speak up, make choices and become powerful and influential and help them to gain opportunities and become more independent in learning, housing, work, health, money, travel, leisure, and relationships. Since 2010, Kent Community Foundation has awarded Bemix CIC grants totalling £132,500, including a social loan of £80,000 and emergency support of £17,500, to help with their running costs during the pandemic.

The Autism Apprentice CIC work with parents and carers who are looking after a young person with autism to empower them with the skills, strategies and understanding to successfully assist their young person in reaching their full potential. During the pandemic, Kent Community Foundation has awarded them £10,560 to help with the increased demand for their services as the parents, carers and young people they support have experienced higher levels of anxiety which has in turn impacted upon behaviours and emotional well-being.

Sarah Aldridge, Director, The Autism Apprentice, said:

“Since the coronavirus pandemic, our service has seen a 70% increase in demand. The invaluable funding received from Kent Community Foundation has allowed us to support families caring for a young person with autism by offering understanding, strategies, and reduced isolation. All staff have lived experience of autism, and feedback received indicates how imperative this is.”

Lily’s Social Kitchen CIC creates opportunities for people from all walks of life to access work and training using the power of food. They offer employment and work experience to those who are often overlooked, including the homeless, those with mental health, learning disabilities, autism or adjusting to life after prison. Over the last 12 months, Lily’s Social Kitchen has received grants totalling almost £32,000 from Kent Community Foundation.

Zoe Rodda, Director, Lily’s Social Kitchen CIC, said:

“At Lily’s, we support people with autism into paid, meaningful employment. This is either in our own cafes, kitchens, and offices, but we also work to support local employers to diversify their workforce. The funding from Kent Community Foundation, particularly in the last year, supported us to pivot our business and support our local communities with free food parcels and free ready meals while our cafes have been closed. This has meant we have been able to continue supporting some of our trainees. Our first apprentice, who has a diagnosis of autism, completed her level 2 in the production kitchen at the end of February. Without this funding, we would not have been able to continue to support her learning. We have now employed her in our kitchens so she can continue to learn and develop while we look for the perfect job for her in a mainstream workplace. She is an asset to our team!’ Thank you, Kent Community Foundation, for all your support.”

To find out more about Kent Community Foundation, please visit: www.kentcf.org.uk.

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