NOV 10 £4,082.29
That’s the amazing sum raised in the last year by Hunstanton Methodist Church for Autism Anglia. At a special service of praise and thanksgiving, the cheque was presented by Senior Steward Wallace Ward to the Bishop of Norwich, who is Patron of Autism Anglia. Thanking the church, Bishop Graham revealed that his strong personal concern for people with autism stemmed from a nephew having the condition. Like so many, he did not get an early diagnosis and for too long was simply regarded as a very naughty and difficult child. Getting proper support had made the world of difference to him and his family. Bishop Graham reminded us that, though there is such a high unemployment rate among adults with autism and they depend on state benefits, with help from organisations like Autism Anglia they can develop their skills to benefit not just themselves but society in general.
During the service, Julia Warnes, who has been the driving force behind our efforts, gave a resume of what we had done through the year to raise not just money but also awareness and understanding of autism. These included a sponsored run by one of our members, an auction of promises, a plant sale, the collection of 20p pieces and the very successful Autism Awareness Day back in the spring, when we all learned such a lot about this condition and the ways it can affect people and their families.
Autism Anglia used the money we raised to help equip a new Study Centre for adults with autism, in Dereham, and three members of our church were welcomed to the Centre’s official opening on 8th October. The ceremony was performed by children’s author and founder of Bewilderwood Adventure Park Tom Blofeld. Tom’s little boy is autistic and he said how much it meant to him as a parent to know that support and appropriate facilities will be there for Rufus as he grows up and enters the very bewildering world of adulthood. As an employer, he pledged to look favourably on job applicants with autism, recognising that they make “poor interviewees but wonderful employees.”
The Study Centre, converted industrial units, is very light and spacious. It includes an IT room, two art rooms, a base for the horticulture team, a kitchen and dining area, gym and sensory room. It is already being used and much appreciated, providing a settled and quiet environment, a place to learn skills and build self-confidence and a stepping stone to accessing services in the wider community. It is planned that up to 30 adults with autism will be able to use the facilities each working day. It is the first such centre in Norfolk and is open to all who can travel to Dereham.
The contribution of Hunstanton people in making this possible is very greatly appreciated.