Ulster Unionists call for Increased Autism Support following meeting with Autism Initiatives.
Ulster Unionists Cllr Jill Macauley and Slieve Croob representative Alan Lewis have called on the South Eastern HSC Trust to provide more support to autism services in the South Down area.
They said that firstly they should produce and maintain autism signposting information for the local area, and also they are also calling secondly for increased funding for outreach services. Both representatives have praised the work of local organisation, ‘Autism Initiatives’
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Lewis said: “I commend Autism Initiatives on the work which they are doing across our district. The staff and carers are dedicated and committed to ensuring a safe and secure environment for service users. We had a useful and informative meeting with representatives on Friday afternoon. We discussed current Initiatives in Newcastle designed to make Newcastle the first autism friendly town in Northern Ireland.
“We are calling on the South Eastern Trust to commit to producing and maintaining an autism services map, signposting parents and careers to the wide range of local services. I was delighted to hear about the ongoing training Autism Initiatives have committed to delivering for retail and hospitality sector in Newcastle. I encourage all employers to engage with the “every customer counts” campaign and avail of training which will enhance staff awareness of the needs of those on the Autism spectrum.
“We are concerned to hear that the Housing Executive are planning to cut funding which it provides to the “Support our Care programme”. This programme helps adult service users who are living within supported living. Proposed cuts are reflective of overall reduction in departmental budgets across Northern Ireland.
“Funding reduction highlights the need for a functioning NI Executive, a department clearly without direction, governance and leadership left to consider budgetary restraints unchecked without ministerial guidance. We need to see an urgent return of devolution to ensure protection of services which benefit those most vulnerable within our society.”
Cllr Jill Macauley added: “Here in the Newry, Mourne and Down District, Newcastle has always been very autism-friendly and is recognised locally and internationally as a leading autism destination, recently being named Northern Ireland’s first ‘autism-friendly’ town.
“Employing 90 people in Newcastle, a hub for Autism Initiatives, which helps support adults with autism in the town, the charity provides supported living day care for 50 people in the area.
“It is often simple, small steps of change which can make the world of difference for someone with autism. The town of Newcastle is leading the way, and this is something we should be proud of. This is also an ongoing process where local businesses and amenities adapt so that their services can be enjoyed by those on the spectrum, and autistic people and their families feel welcomed and are cared for in a sensitive valued way”
“The Ulster Unionist Party representatives will be working hard with the Council to ensure that public facilities and provisions are reviewed and improved for citizens with Autism throughout the district.”