Big Lottery Funding Boost For Autism Group

A community project to provide vital support and training for the families of people with autism in Omagh has received a massive boost from the Big Lottery Fund. The National Autistic Society received a grant of £345,114 to provide support, advice and information to local parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and raise awareness and understanding of autism amongst professionals in order to improve access to services.

The scheme is being funded as part of a £4,386,306 grants roll-out to ten projects across Northern Ireland under the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities NI programme. This £18 million programme aims to support a wide range of projects that bring changes to people’s lives, creating stronger communities and improved local environments.

Regina Cox, National Coordinator in Northern Ireland, said the funding will be used to improve services and skills, build partnerships and improve the mental health and well being of parents, carers and individuals suffering from ASD.

“There is a real lack of autism specific services for the estimated 16,000 families living with autism in Northern Ireland, with Coleraine having been identified as an area of particular need. This leads to huge problems for families, including long waits for a diagnosis, limited choice over educational placements and little out of school support,” said Regina.

“Autism is a lifelong disability therefore adults can also experience issues of unemployment, inappropriate housing and social isolation. The two new Family Support Worker posts will provide direct information and support to people with autism, their families and carers, however they will also help statutory bodies review autism services and make recommendations for improvements in their area.

“NAS Northern Ireland is delighted to have received investment from the Big Lottery Fund. Working in partnership with other organisations these posts will help provide a better life for people with autism across the province.”

Big Lottery Fund Northern Ireland Board Member, Breidge Gadd, said: “I am delighted that the Big Lottery Fund has supported such a diverse range of projects. It is heartening to see so many projects supporting disadvantaged groups within our society.”