THE National Autistic Society is delighted to announce that Sir Norman Lamb is joining the charity in a voluntary role, as a Vice President. He will support them by advising on their strategy and future plans, with a particular focus on campaigning for the rights of the 700,000 autistic people in the UK, and their families.
Sir Norman will join the 12 existing Vice Presidents, including Lord Touhig, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and Baroness Browning.
Sir Norman has a long history of campaigning alongside the National Autistic Society during his time as the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk from 2001 to 2019, particularly around long diagnosis waiting times and the scandal of autistic people stuck in mental health hospitals. These issues are priorities for the charity, as well as making sure that the Government’s upcoming updated autism strategy for England increases support and services for autistic people and their families.
Autism is a lifelong disability that affects how people communicate and interact with the world. It is a spectrum condition. This means that while all autistic people share difficulties around communication and social interaction, they will face varying challenges and need different levels of support. This can range from 24-hour care to clearer communication and a little longer to do things at work or school.
During his time as an MP, Sir Norman served as Minister for Care and Support for three years. In this role, he led on the last iteration of the national autism strategy, worked to reform the social care system and led the drive to integrate health and social care. He also championed improving mental health services and driving better equality between mental and physical health. His experience in Government and as an MP will be invaluable to the National Autistic Society.
In the Queen’s 2019 Birthday Honours, Sir Norman received a knighthood with the citation noting, in particular, his mental health campaigning. Since standing down from Parliament in 2019, he established a mental health and wellbeing fund in Norfolk and became Chair of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
Sir Norman Lamb said:
“I’m delighted to have been appointed as a Vice President of the National Autistic Society. The rights of autistic people is an issue close to my heart. Having worked closely with the charity on a number of campaigns I’m very pleased to continue my support in this way.”
Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said:
“We’ve been lucky to benefit from Sir Norman’s support and advice for several years in Parliament and we’re delighted that this will continue, as we shape our strategy and work for the future.
“He has such a huge wealth of experience after nearly 20 years as an MP and three as a minister, including many years highlighting the huge health inequalities faced by autistic people alongside campaigners, charities and MPs from different parties. This includes working with our charity to hold the Government to account on diagnosis waiting times and the scandal of autistic people being inappropriately detained in mental health hospitals. Most recently, we worked together on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism’s inquiry into the impact of the Autism Act.
“We are committed to creating a society that works for autistic people and are thrilled Sir Norman is part of this journey.”
Find out more about autism, www.autism.org.uk