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Funding aims to help autistic people feel connected

 

The Scottish Government has announced new funds for charities that are helping to support autistic people through the coronavirus pandemic

New funding has been announced for charities that support people with autism.

Two specialist organisations will receive additional funding to support 47,000 autistic people across Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Government will commit £160,000 to allow the capacity of the Scottish Autism Helpline to be increased and the National Autistic Society will receive £45,000 to help people keep in touch online during lockdown.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Autistic people find the extreme change in their daily lives more difficult to deal with, which is why we have fast-tracked this funding to improve the consistency and availability of support. These are unprecedented times and it is important autistic people know this support is there to help them and how to access it.

“This funding will help organisations provide autistic people and their families with a source of up-to-date information to manage their physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as reduce social isolation by helping them forge sustainable and meaningful relationships.”

Charlene Tait, deputy chief executive of Scottish Autism, said: “During these uncertain and challenging times, our aim is to provide reassurance, guidance and support to autistic people and their families across Scotland.

“These extra funds will allow us to extend our Autism Advice Line offering, enabling us to increase our operating capacity to seven days a week, 8am to 8pm. We are all too aware of the impact this crisis is having on the emotional, physical and mental wellbeing of autistic people and their families. This funding will enable us to reach out and support people at this difficult and stressful time.”

Nick Ward, director of the National Autistic Society Scotland, said: "We are very grateful to the Scottish Government for their work throughout this crisis to support autistic people and their families. With this funding we can drastically increase the number of online Social Groups, where people can meet and talk about the things that are important to them, form meaningful relationships and feel more connected. Our staff will also be on hand to offer support and tips around managing mental health and wellbeing and importantly staying safe."

Blair Spence, 19, of Maxwell Park in Glasgow, is one of those who attends the society’s groups.

"I’ve been going to the social groups for about nine months, they’ve really helped my confidence and conversation skills as well as make new friends,” he said.

“The new online groups have been really fun. There are about 10 of us in the group and it works really well. It’s good to stay in touch with other people and we’ve done some exciting things with the group leaders like a virtual tour of an aquarium and around San Francisco including going across the Golden Gate Bridge!

“I really look forward to the weekly online groups and I would recommend to other autistic people to give them a go."

 

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