10:19AM, Wednesday 09 June 2021
L-R: Tricia Kempton, Ruth Barlow, Becky Peates and Dawn Khon from The Autism Group
An autism charity based in Maidenhead is celebrating its fifth anniversary in the town as it gears up for a return to face-to-face services.
Launched in 2016, The Autism Group is also preparing for the opening of its new physical office at 5 High Street ahead of its official anniversary date on June 11, this Friday.
The first session run by the charity was a Pokemon activity club for a handful of young people. It is now running 11 groups offering five different themed Saturday clubs, with around 90 children and young adults joining in once a month or more.
The Autism Group was formed with the aim of enhancing the lives of young people on the spectrum, their parents and carers and initially tackled the lack of social opportunities for secondary school age pupils on the spectrum.
It aims to support children and young people aged nine to 25, along with support for parents, in the form of workshops, one-to-one visits and informal coffee and chat sessions.
Charity manager Tricia Kempton said: “We have met some amazing young people, parents, carers, families and friends since we started out and we’re thrilled to be celebrating our fifth anniversary after what has been a difficult year for everyone.
"We understand, accept and celebrate the unique characteristics and talents of young people on the spectrum and they and their families are offered a warm welcome, along with well informed support."
Tricia added that the charity is 'immensely grateful' to the organisations which have funded its work – including the Advertiser's own Louis Baylis Trust, The Prince Phillip Trust Fund, MCKS Charity UK, and the East Berkshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.
Research has shown that families living with autism have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the resulting difficulties of accessing education, support services and the impact on mental health and wellbeing.
“We are needed now more than ever to support local families,” said Tricia.
“We kept going throughout lockdown with virtual clubs and support services, and now we can’t wait to welcome everyone back face-to-face just as soon as possible – that will be the best birthday present we could wish for.”
The Autism Group will continue in the year ahead with a blend of virtual and face-to-face support from its Maidenhead base, as well as providing services for the new East Berks Autism and ADHD service, known as GEMS (www.gems4health.com).
For more information on the charity, visit www.theautismgroup.org.uk
To learn more about The Louis Baylis Trust, click here.
Police were called to the River Thames between Cookham and Bourne End yesterday at about 3pm, to reports that a teenage boy had entered the water but hadn’t been seen to leave.