"Thanks to our MK Community Foundation grant, we’ve been able to build brand new meaningful relationships in Milton Keynes and work with new members who desperately needed support…"
Who are Autism Bedfordshire and what do they do?
In 1991 in Bedfordshire, an advert featured in the local newspaper written by the parent of an autistic child. This advert, inviting the community to share thoughts and strategies with each other, was met with an abundance of support from other parents that knew their autistic children shared the same hopes, aspirations and worries as other children; sparking a conversation amongst locals - this communal spirit set the foundations for a charity that has grown to provide a range of places where autistic children can be themselves.
As the only voluntary organisation that specialises in supporting both autistic adults and children in the country, as well as the families and support systems of autistic people, Autism Bedfordshire’s services help break down the barriers around social participation for autistic people and their families, creating places where they feel comfortable, accepted, and not judged. With the encouragement and support of specialist trained staff who understand their complex needs and anxieties, Autism Bedfordshire helps to build confidence, self-esteem, and social skills through taking part in various social activities and mixing with other people; enabling them to meet their potential, reducing social isolation and improving their overall quality of life.
What support did Autism Bedfordshire need?
For many of us, the pandemic created years of uncertainty. On February 21st, 2022, it was announced that we were no longer required to self-isolate: news which was welcomed by most, but not by all. Beneath this wave of relief were still individuals in our community that did not have the confidence to return to the community; Autism Bedfordshire needed to change this.
Knowing that many individuals still felt isolated and anxious, they designed a project that aimed to reduce this isolation individuals were experiencing, identifying support required by creating a network in which people could connect with other likeminded individuals to discuss their collective and individual needs. Autism Bedfordshire were going to be a lifeline for those who needed it.
What difference did our MK Community Foundation grant make?
The funding from MK Community Foundation gave Autism Bedfordshire the opportunity to run courses for members to build their knowledge and skills, consequently increasing their levels of independence and confidence. After attending a skills course, members were given the opportunity to work with and learn from each other, to develop themselves professionally and personally, which lead to individuals gaining employment or feeling confident and ready to seek employment or volunteering. It has also provided an opportunity for individuals to meet new people, develop friendships, and visit new places in a supported and structured setting.
A real life story
Autism Bedfordshire were able to support a young woman who called their helpline. She had been struggling with isolation since leaving school and obtaining her diagnosis. During her initial assessment, the team learnt that she had started a new job during the pandemic but had not yet been to her office or met her new team. This was initially because of Covid-19, and the requirement to work from home for all those who could. As rules changed, and we were free to go back into our offices and workplaces, she still felt unable to go to work due to heightened anxiety about leaving her home, worrying whether her team would like her.
Everybody agreed that the course funded by MK Community Foundation was the right course for her, as it would address both the points mentioned above. Due to how high her anxiety was, the course tutor agreed to meet her prior to the course starting, so that she felt more comfortable ahead of time. Once the course started, the young lady did her best to stay until the end of each session, even when her anxiety was high. With time, she shared with the group how she was feeling about work and explored her worries and concerns in a safe environment. Others in the group expressed similar feelings of concern, but reassured each other they had started this course, and they could do anything they put their minds to, with support.
As this session came to an end, the young lady in question asked to talk through how she could build a similar support pattern at work. She explained that being able to meet 1 person initially had been helpful as she wasn’t overwhelmed to the point of not being able to do anything. A meeting was set up with the young lady’s boss, the tutor, and the young person. In the meeting, she explained to her boss how she was feeling but explained that she didn’t want her anxiety to be a barrier and did want to meet the team. The 3 of them worked together to create a plan that worked for both the young person and the employer. The employer was extremely receptive to the offering of support and worked with the tutor to understand what adjustments could be made to best support her, and how to put strategies in place so that if she became overwhelmed, she could support her to ensure that she succeeded in her job.
Help us support more causes like Autism Bedfordshire
Our mission is to continue to make a positive difference in the lives of those who live in our community. We do that by giving grants to the charities working on the ground, the charities that work hard to make change happen.
To see how you could help us to have an even greater impact in our community, take a look at our website.
What do real people say?
“The best thing about accessing this service is that I get to socialise with new people and getting to go to places.”
“I understand now that I am not alone, and lots of people feel the same way I do, being autistic is part of who I am and it’s not a bad thing, I just need help sometimes”
Make an enquiry
Have any questions? Feel free to get in touch with our team.