March 15, 2017

Barrow2A giant 2-ft button, nicknamed Jensen, who is the mascot of the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) ‘Push for Action’ campaign arrived in Barrow-in-Furness on Wednesday 23rd October. The campaign aims at improving support for adults with autism.

The Furness NAS Branch hosted the awareness raising event in the Forum, Duke Street. Members of the public could have a go at pushing the button themselves as well as receiving lots of information from individuals affected by autism, parents and family members. There were also councillors and representatives of local organisations at the event. Many local residents signed up to a petition that will be handed in at 10 Downing Street, the final destination on the button’s journey across the country.

Tom Madders
Tom Madders

At the event was Tom Madders, Head of Campaigns at the NAS. He told Autism Daily Newscast about what greeted him when he arrived in Barrow.

“When I arrived in Barrow on Tuesday evening to be greeted by a giant projection of the Push for Action button on prominent town centre building, I couldn’t believe my eyes! The Barrow-in-Furness branch has consistently wowed and surprised us over these past few months, but this was quite remarkable.”

Tom told us about the event.

“Their event the following day was also superb. Jackie, Amanda and the whole branch committee have so much energy and did a brilliant job of promoting Push for Action in the media, to local politicians and dignitaries and to passers-by, securing almost 150 new signatures for the campaign.”

Councillor Colin Thomson and his wife Brenda

The Mayor and Mayoress, (Councillor Colin Thomson and his wife Brenda) attended the event as well as Councillor Anne Burns, Terry McSorley representing John Woodcock MP, local police officers, Parent Partnership officers and Jemma Swales an independent Autism Support Worker.

In January 2013, the NAS published an online survey for adults with autism and parents/carers of children with an ASD. The survey asked for their experiences and how easy it was to access support. . Over 1000 people responded to this survey. The following information is from the NAS.

‘36% of people with autism said they need help to wash and dress. But only 7% get this support from social services.
77% of people with autism say they need help to manage money. But only 4% get this support from social services.
53% of people with autism say they want help to find work. But only 10% get the support to do so.’

The Furness Branch of the NAS is run by volunteer parents.

‘We provide support and information to families and carers of children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder. We offer:
• A regular drop-in to provide support and information and the opportunity to meet other people/families in similar situations
• Guest Speakers from local services to provide additional support and information
• Regular Parent/Carer Training Workshops
• Access to a library of books and resources
• A regular Branch newsletter to keep families up to date with training and activity opportunities
• An Asperger Youth Group for young people aged 11 to 19
• Social activities throughout the year for children with autism and their families
• Awareness and fund raising opportunities
• A Local Website’

Tom Madders ends by telling Autism Daily Newscast

Barrow4“There is still a very long way to go before the branch and their members will be happy with the services provided to people with autism and their families in Cumbria, but with the momentum they are gathering I have high hopes that they can push for something real and lasting that transforms lives across the region.”

The Furness Branch has a local website and can be found on Facebook on Twitter @FurnessNAS
Jensen the travelling button’s journey can be followed on Twitter @NASButton
The NAS website is
Tom Madders can be followed on twitter @TomMaddersNAS

About the author 

Jo Worgan

Jo Worgan is a published author, writer and blogger. She has a degree in English Literature. She writes about life with her youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum. Jo tweets (@mummyworgan) and is also a freelance columnist for the Lancaster Guardian. ‘My Life with Tom, Living With Autism‘ is her second book and a culmination of her blog posts, and available on Kindle now, along with her first book, Life on the Spectrum. The Preschool years.

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