Autism East Midlands will be celebrating its 50th year this year and Northampton based organisation Autism Concern is celebrating 25 years both aligned with a mission to improve the lives of those with Autism Spectrum Conditions and their families. Both charities are part of Autism Alliance and recognised the value of each other’s services with a common goal to reach as many people geographically possible within the area.

The charity merger officially started on the 1 January 2018. The contracts and services currently held by Autism Concern will now be managed by Autism East Midlands at the end of their current term. Autism Concern will retain its name for Trading Purposes only until this time. The current services are detailed below will still be provided as part of the merger and additional services will be added. Services include: ADHD Matters, Family Support Services, Support Line, Children & Young People’s service and Training and Awareness. Families and commissioners have already been contacted and have responded in a positive way with regards to the merger.

Comments from Robert Woodford (Chair of Trustees for Autism Concern):

“Our 25th year became a seminal moment. Not content with letting this charity go backwards, we decided to be proactive. We sought a merger with another charity. We believe that not only will it secure our short-term stability, but more excitingly, a larger organization will allow us to provide a wider variety of services and greater depth to our offering. Autism East Midlands share the same values we do, and naturally are a good geographic fit. They sit alongside us in the Autism Alliance and have been partnering with us over the past 12 months as we focused on the challenges we faced.

“Autism East Midlands will help us to continue the tradition we have for excellent service, deep expertise, and an environment our service users, their families and professionals want to be a part of. With a turnover in excess of £13m and a trading surplus, they also offer the financial stability the charity needs and investment opportunity the county can benefit from. For us, the most exciting thing will be that we are able to provide many new services and areas of expertise in the future. This includes a move into adult services, extending and modernizing our children’s services offering and improving advice related activity.

“Whilst we do not know what these will look like right now, we look forward to discussing those in more depth with our members and service users and involving you in the development of these services. However, it should be noted that Autism East Midlands have bent over backwards to work with us. A great sign of their intent. And it must be said a validation of our organization.”

Comments from Jane Howson Chief Executive of Autism East Midlands:

“These charities have been providing services in their own areas for 50 years and 25 years respectively. In times of austerity all charities should be looking to minimise back office costs and maximise the benefits for autistic people and their families. In coming together, the charities are doing so Autism Concern as a brand will be retained in the Northamptonshire area for the children’s services it has traditionally offered. Autism East Midlands will bring new investment and seek to extend the offer to autistic adults as well as expand the range of options available to young people.”

On Tuesday 9 January 2018 both charities held an open day to celebrate the merger announcement and offer an opportunity for families to meet members of the team both new and old and to discuss what the merger with Autism East Midlands means for them and their children.

L-R: George Smith (Autism East Midlands Vice Chair of the Governors and the Trustees), Mary Stanley (Autism East Midlands Adult Services Quality Assurance Lead), Will Burchell (Autism East Midlands Director of Development), Dawn Franklin (Autism East Midlands Head of Play Services),  Jade McDonald (Autism Concern Marketing Assistant), Lesley Lock (Autism Concern Family Support Advisor), Anne Prestwick (Autism Concern office administrator) and Zoe Tobin (Autism Concern ADHT Family Support Advisor).

A celebratory torch has been created by Autism East Midlands Sutherland House School for children with Autism in Nottingham, this will be passed from service to service covering all regional areas supported by the Autism East Midlands charity throughout the year. The 50th Anniversary relay torch was set off from the Autism Concern open day and mark the celebrations of the merger and the positive step in expanding our services to Northampton families in January 2018 and will finish up at Sutherland House School in Nottingham in December 2018.

Families looking for more information about Autism East Midlands and Autism Concern services within the Northampton area please contact (01604) 239404.