Dereham autism charity seeks funding support as they struggle to cope with demand
- Credit: Archant
A voluntary organisation which supports people affected by autism is seeking greater financial support because their services have become overwhelmed with demand.
ASD Helping Hands currently supports 547 families by offering an information, advice and advocacy service but as demand for the service has grown they have struggled to raise enough money to fund their work.
The growing demand has come largely because of cuts and rising costs in education. Many schools are being forced to make savings which often means losing special education support and parents are left to seek out specialist providers, such as ASD.
In Norfolk there has been a 10pc rise in the number of children attending specialist schools in just four years.
Lee Gibbons, development officer at ASD, said: 'The problem, as we perceive it, is schools are having to save money and so funding from areas like special needs and teaching support is being cut.
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'This can have a knock on effect, with problems such as a steep rises in exclusions and bad behaviour in class. Parents then don't feel they can send their children to school and that can potentially lead to mental health issues and a demand for mental health support.'
He continued: 'We would never turn people away who need help but we have recently had to make a change to the organisation to be an issue based service. This means we get involved only if there is a specific issue that needs supporting, such as education support or behaviour problems.
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'If we didn't make this change then our books would go through the roof.'
To cope with the strains on their service the charity is appealing to donors to help raise £60,000 in order to pay for wages, additional resources, practical support, expenses and specialised information sessions.
It will also give them the opportunity to find new building that will help them to offer a 'one stop shop' in Norfolk for children, young people, adults and families affected by an Autistic Spectrum Condition.
The group will be hosting a big austism conference in October and all profits will go toward their fund raising target.