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New portfolio focused on understanding autism announced

New portfolio focused on understanding autism announced

Nine charities offering a range of community and employment projects from around Scotland have been announced as recipients of almost £400,000 of  funding aimed at raising society’s understanding of autism.

This fund aims to make employment and community participation more accessible and to help autistic people to live active and independent lives. The fund will be managed by Inspiring Scotland and delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government.

Claire Haughey, Minister for Mental Health, said: “We want Scotland to be an inclusive place in which autistic people can play a full role. This funding will enable third sector organisations to improve the understanding of autism throughout society. We are absolutely committed to changing attitudes and highlighting the positive contributions that autistic people can make. Autistic people have been at the heart of this decision-making process.

Celia Tennant, Inspiring Scotland Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to support this important new fund. As well as putting autistic people at the heart of decision making, each of these projects will help to make Scotland a more understanding place for autistic people to learn, work and live.  We’re pleased to be working with the Scottish Government on this fund and are looking forward to start working with each of the successful projects.”

The new fund, which was nearly four times oversubscribed, attracted interest from a wide variety of organisations both national and local. Applicants were encouraged to demonstrate creative approaches in helping increase understanding of autism and autistic people among the non-autistic population.

The decision-making process took an inclusive approach involving the autistic community.

Autistic Advisory Forums were held in Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh, where autistic people had the opportunity to speak about the projects they expected to have the greatest impact.

Jeanie MacFarlane Autistic Advisory Forum Member said: “I am one of the autistic community involved in the selection of ideas/proposals. I thank Inspiring Scotland for the lengths they have gone to in encouraging the participation of a range of autistic individuals like me, enabling us to be heard, valued and our views acted upon (and that the forums also supported those who could not communicate within the meetings themselves).

We were able to strongly voice that the proposals should be non-discriminatory and that posts created through this funding should be open to autistic individuals. Ideally the ideas will be self-sustainable in the future and/or through trials highlight good practice for the future.”

Autistic people-led organisations offered advice, support and feedback on each of these local forums.

The steering committee for the programme (with both autistic and non-autistic members) also reviewed all the applications.

Jasmine Ghibli Autistic Steering Committee member said: “Autistic involvement is indisputably important within this programme. Distinctly, it shows an honest and sincere enthusiasm of the values and aims advocated by the programme itself. But more than that, it provides the opportunity for autistic people to share their experiences, ambitions, and needs directly within an empathetic and respectful environment.”

This funding is part of a wider programme which will feature a national marketing campaign alongside the funded projects across Scotland. The programme is aiming to dispel myths about autism and give non-autistic people an improved understanding of autism.

All projects will run through to March 2021, with Inspiring Scotland providing ongoing support to recipient organisations.  They will deliver training, advice and mentoring to the organisations involved. The programme will help to contribute to making Scotland a more understanding place for autistic people to learn, work and live.

Find out more about our work in this area and the successful projects.

 

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