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Autism charity calls for more understanding

Autism charity calls for more understanding

Sunday 29 December 2019

Autism charity calls for more understanding


A local charity that supports islanders on the autism spectrum and their families is calling for everyone to be more understanding about the condition.

Autism Jersey, which supports the 1,000 islanders living with autism with everyday life skills, as well as their families, from diagnosis to beyond, says greater awareness would help those on the spectrum help reach their full potential.

Earlier this month, the charity opened its new charity boutique, which aimed not only to raise money, but also provide a listening ear for local families.

But while the new shop was one of 2019's big successes for the charity, it wasn't the only highlight, as they explained...

"An excellent example of what can be achieved through powerful partnerships was recognised with a win at the 2019 One Gov Awards. We are proud to have worked in partnership with the Government of Jersey's Service Design Team to evaluate and improve our daytime short break services.

There will now be greater scope for many more children with additional needs to access the short break service they so fully deserve.  

Within our adult services we pride ourselves on our personal approach and ability to develop skills in social interaction and communication, as well as practical skills like managing finances, shopping, preparing and cooking meals and travel; all helping to achieve a greater degree of independence and improving ‘quality of life.’

A measurable outcome of our success is that three of the adults we support have over the year become significantly more independent, with one of those supported into successful employment, resulting in a significant decrease in their support hours.

We have established a ‘single front door’ in to Autism Jersey, to ensure that people who contact us get a consistent and professional response.  When an individual or a family contacts us, there is usually a reason, and that reason is usually because they are experiencing issues or difficulties.

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Pictured: Dr Helen Miles, Vice Chairman and Chris Dunne CEO of Autism Jersey.

It is vital that our response is immediate and effective, part of that response is quick access to counselling support. This has proved invaluable to families in distress, as mainstream psychology services often have significant waiting lists.  Our findings show that people need that support now.   

An Advisory Council was established to represent the views of people on the autism spectrum in Jersey. The council has made a strong start, recruiting political ambassadors and reviewing the charity’s mission statement. The Council was recognised with second place at the Jersey Charity Awards in the Outstanding Achievement for the Large Charity Category.

The Boutique’s new home on the Parade is a fantastic opportunity for us to fly the flag for Autism Jersey, and to raise awareness of autism. The location is prime, and the facilities will allow us to develop the shop as the place on the high street to go for ‘all things autism.’

So not only will we run our Boutique from the premises, we will locate an advice and information service from there, providing the right support, quickly and efficiently.

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Pictured: Autism Jersey's new boutique is based at 13 Parade.

We faced a number of challenges in 2019, with the biggest being recruitment of new staff with the right qualities, skills and experience to be able to support people on the autistic spectrum to the quality and standards that we expect.

This has been a priority in the second half of the year, and we have been looking at creative and innovative ways to encourage people to consider working for our organisation.

The quality of our staff is key to establishing, providing and evidencing good quality support. People enter the health and social care industry because they want to make a difference to peoples’ lives. They want to help others and to do this effectively, they must be trained.

We are committed to investing in training and development and empowering our staff to reach their full potential.         

As 2020 approaches we reflect with enormous gratitude on the generous support we have received throughout the year. We have been grateful beneficiaries of ‘bucket shaking’, community collections, donations from parish halls and community groups.

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Pictured: The Machu Picchu Trekkers and Channel swimmer Karen Gallichan helped raise funds for Autism Jersey this year.

We have been impressed by individuals and teams taking on personal challenges and children continue to champion our cause. Local businesses collected and corporate companies encouraged and matched employee fundraising. Income generated from charitable funds, trusts, grants and foundations is invaluable.  

For individuals and families living with autism Christmas can be the most challenging time of year and we graciously rely on your kind generosity to support our families throughout the festive season. Our wish at the end of 2019 is for increased awareness and greater understanding in an inclusive community which enables people on the autism spectrum to achieve their potential."

But Autism Jersey weren't the only ones working hard to improve outcomes for those with autism.

2019 also saw the establishment of the Autism Jersey Advisory Council, which aimed to ensure autistic islanders have a voice in the work of Autism Jersey, while intending to ask bigger questions about “key issues facing autism in Jersey".

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Pictured: Jonathan Channing, Chair of the Autism Jersey Advisory Council.

Chaired by Jonathan Channing, a digital entrepreneur and public speaker, the panel was first tasked with rewriting the mission statement for Autism Jersey. 

It now reads as, “enabling people on the Autism Spectrum to achieve their potential by advocating for an inclusive community and providing personalised services to individuals, families and carers."

Senator Lyndon Farnham and Senator Kristina Moore were then recruited as 'Autism Ambassadors' to help advocate for change for autistic islanders and be “the Council’s voice in the States Assembly advocating for awareness to their colleagues".

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Pictured: Senators Lyndon Farnham and Kristina Moore, Autism Jersey's Ambassadors.

A Sub-Committee was also created in a bid to include a broader range of autistic islanders in the conversation around autism in Jersey. The newly created Recommendations Committee will be chaired by a Council member and include an Autism Jersey representative from the management team.

The work of the Council was recognised with an Association of Jersey Charities Award with Autism Jersey winning second place in the large charity category.

Looking forward to 2020, the council will be aiming to pilot a life skills programme with the help of local company.

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Pictured: Nick Winsor, Chairman of Autism Jersey and Jonathan Channing.

“This year has very much been a year of laying foundations, securing relationships and preparing for an impactful 2020!" Mr Channing said.

"Our new structure with the addition of the Recommendations Sub-Committee will allow us to canvas a broader range of autistic views and utilize those views for the strategic growth of the council. “

Nick Winsor, Chairman of Autism Jersey, added:​ "The Autism Jersey Advisory Council has added real value since its inception and I look forward to another 12 months of working together.

"Meanwhile, I would like to thank Jonathan Channing and his council members for their outstanding contribution.​" 

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