Two mums from Kingston upon Thames, UK, set up Express CIC to help support young people on the autistic spectrum as well as raising awareness about autism within the local community. They explain
“A CIC is a community interest company which means that we operate as a ‘not for profit’ company. We are at the very early stages of Express but we envisage a social environment where young people on the autistic spectrum and their families feel welcomed and secure within the local community.”
Both Annette and Tracey, founders of Express, have children on the autistic spectrum. Annette Williams’s youngest son, now 9, was diagnosed with autism at 18 months and this year with ADHD. Annette explains more
“I have therefore gained extensive knowledge of the challenges faced and the requirements of families coping with autism. I am aware of the need for more services locally and within the community environment to provide families with a more positive experience and to alleviate the isolation felt by their carers.”
Tracey Gaggiotti has two children and her son, aged 11, was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism aged 8. Tracey explains that this was a “long and difficult process.” Tracey is also the sibling of a profoundly autistic brother.
“I am fully aware of the impact this has on family life. I believe that we need more services locally and within the community environment to provide families with a more positive experience and strengthen support networks.”
The aim for the young people visiting the hub is to gain valuable social skills experience and opportunities for gaining work experience.
“We aim to provide a service that will be used, supported and enjoyed by the community as a whole.”
Tracey and Annette explain that the autistic spectrum is very wide and that each young person that they meet will be “unique with their own challenges and abilities.” Express is all about acceptance and allowing the young people who visit to express themselves and be part of the community. Their talents will be nurtured and developed.
At the moment they are in the process of evidencing the need of Express for the local community.
“We have nominated a local community asset that has been designated for disposal and we have to come up with a proposal for a ‘Community Asset Transfer’. Currently we are in the process of evidencing the need for Express and proving our social value so that we can apply for grants and persuade our local Council that we can take on the asset and develop Express. It is a huge task we have undertaken but an important one!”
Comedian and autism blogger, John Williams, is the Patron of Express and has been helping to gain support and raise awareness
Express have this final message to share
“We both passionately believe in focusing on the positives and the ‘can do’ whilst respecting that each individual is unique. Help us make Express a success!”
Express has also been shortlisted for the Lloyds Community Fund and could receive £3000
You can vote for Express here
You can also vote by texting LPLA to 61119
More information can be found on their website
You can follow Express on twitter
John Williams can also be followed on twitter