A major new partnership initiative has been launched to coordinate and develop services for people with autism in the North East.
The North East Autism Consortium, led by the National Autistic Society (NAS), will bring together local agencies and services, as well as people with autism, to establish a long term strategy to meet the needs of the 26,000 children and adults living with autism in the region.
The new consortium is funded by a 2 year grant of £130,000 from the North East Centre of Excellence. Members will include The NAS, the UK's leading charity for people with autism, the 12 local authorities in the North East, NHS Primary Care Trusts, Mental Health Services, the Learning and Skills Council and the North East Strategic Health Authority. It will be modelled on a similar, highly successful scheme in the North West.
NAS Regional Director for Central and North, Adrian Chubb, said: "Until now services across the North East have varied considerably. This Consortium has been established to provide a coherent, strategic approach in commissioning and providing local services in the whole area for all adults and young people.
"By involving the people who require services, their families and carers fully and meaningfully in the development of the Consortium and its policies, we can ensure that their needs are understood by the service providers. We hope that this will result in a better experience of services in the area, as well as more availability of good quality services and the best use of resources."
Julie Brown, NECE Programme Manager said "The Centre is delighted to have helped establish the consortium by providing support, advice and funding which will enable the generation of efficiency savings and improve the provision of autism services".
It will be modelled on the groundbreaking Greater Manchester Autism Consortium that was established in 2001 to achieve similar goals in the North West. This has been very successful in coordinating the autism service commissioning and development of the ten Social Services departments in Greater Manchester. It now funds and steers the National Autistic Society's Family Services Development Project for the region, which supports the strategic development of local services for people with autism and Asperger syndrome. More information can be found on the website http://www.autismgm.org.uk/.
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Notes to editors:
* Autism (including Asperger syndrome) is a lifelong developmental disability. It is a spectrum condition occurring in varying degrees of severity. Around 535,000 people have autism in the UK today and over 2 million people are affected by the disability. It is characterised by a triad of impairments: difficulties forming social relationships, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and the development of strong narrow obsessional interests.
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Visit www.autism.org.uk/msms now and find out how you can get involved!
The National Autistic Society is the UK's leading charity for people with autistic spectrum disorders and their families. Founded in 1962, it continues to spearhead national and international initiatives and provide a strong voice for all people with autism. The NAS provides a wide range of services to help people with autism and Asperger syndrome live their lives with as much independence as possible.
The NAS relies on the support of its members and donors to continue its vital work for people with autism. To become a member, make a donation or to find out more about the work of the NAS, visit the NAS website www.autism.org.uk or call the NAS donation line 08702 33 40 40, (national rates apply).
In March 2004 Vodafone UK entered into a three-year "cause partnership" with The National Autistic Society. The mobile phone company hopes to raise up to £6 million for the charity during this period. Vodafone's support will enable the NAS to expand the reach of existing programmes, which raise awareness of autism and support people with autism and their carers.
For more information about autism and for help in your area, call the NAS Autism Helpline: 0845 070 4004 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday, (local rates apply).
The NAS recently launched PARIS, the Public Autism Resource and Information Service, the first online autism-specific service directory. Visit www.info.autism.org.uk to find autism services and support networks in your area.