Push Begins For Downpatrick Autism Family Support Centre

Push Begins For Downpatrick Autism Family Support Centre

Let It Glow Night Fundraiser At RGU For Downpatrick Autism Family Support Group.

The Downpatrick Autism Family Support Group is kick-starting its campaign to build a new autism support centre in the town. The group is holding a Let It Glow night at the RGU as a fundraiser to help raise funds to build an autism support centre (Saturday 12th March at 6.30pm.)

With an increasing amount of people being diagnosed with autism, Aine Sloan and her supporters have decided to take on the task of building in Downpatrick a dedicated support centre for young people with autism. The new centre would have a main multi-purpose area, sensory room, quiet room and other key facilities.

Come along and support the Downpatrick Autism Family Support Group at their Let It Glow night to help fundraise for a new support centre.

Aine said: “We set up in 2017 basically from my kitchen table. Our group is a parent-led support group trying to help parents and families with children who have autism. This can be a very difficult and at times a lonely place to be for many families but we are there to help.

“Our group shares their experiences and ideas and information and we aim to empower our members to improve the quality of their lives. One of the key issues our group has faced is not having a dedicated premises.

“We have had a couple of rented premises to date but we need a permanent place so we can develop various therapies. It could also be a social club for those with autism, and their families, and be a place for training and support for those affected.

“At the moment we have a trainer who has been providing online courses through Covid on topics for parents such as ‘autism and anxiety’, ‘autism and sleep’, and ‘autism and girls’ and more. These sessions help the parents to understand more and help them to cope with their everyday care.”

Come along to the Let It Glow walk at the Downpatrick RGU and help build for a better future for those affected by autism in the Downpatrick area.

Aine explained that there is a strong emphasis on mental health and to this end, the members are encouraged to share their ideas and learning with others through the various workshops provided by such as building resilience and juggling tasks through the day.

“We have done yoga and pottery sessions for parents which have been successful and well supported. We recently received funding for our carers’ programme. We are keen to reach out to as many organisations as possible and to network building our platform of support.

“But important for us is getting everyone involved… we are as yet still a small organisation, but growing. We are now starting our fund-raising campaign to build our new autism support centre and have plans to raise an initial £25,000 to help create leverage with funders.

“There is an increasing amount of evidence indicating the level of autism in our society. It probably has always been there. People were labelled in the past but now we understand this phenomena to be autism.

“So we are planning to get back in the post-Covid period now to our monthly support group meetings face-to-face.

“We do need to get to a place where we as a community care more for our young people with autism. We do understand the long periods that parents have to endure waiting for assessments, sometimes several years. Until there is an official assessment, it is difficult sometimes to access all the benefits and care that a young person needs. It can be a Catch 22 situation. So we aim to provide a new centre which will provide a proper, dedicated facility with a range of support services for the families and those affected.

“Our fund-raising journey is just beginning, and our members are quite excited about it all. We are having a Let It Glow night at the Downpatrick RGU (Saturday 12th March) to encourage our members and the public to come out and support us. Children will have glow wands and families can have a walk round the new RGU walkway. Come along and join in in the fun event for our cause.”

Downpatrick Autism Family Support Group Facebook link: