NEW opportunities and greater community support will be available to people with Asperger syndrome in Swindon thanks to a £21,500 boost to the town’s autism charity DASH.
The organisation was awarded two grants this summer to develop training, employability schemes and support groups in the town.
These were £11,500 from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Innovation Fund and £10,000 from the South West Foundation in conjunction with Learning Curve, the European Social Fund and Skills Funding Agency.
The cash injection from the PCC’s office will allow the charity to promote its Wiltshire Autism Alert Card, which was designed to highlight the condition to others in situations where people with autism may find communicating difficult.
It will also go towards training agencies such as Jobcentre Plus, the police and housing groups that come into contact with adults with Asperger’s.
The award from the South West Foundation will be dedicated to new training courses to bolster users’ employability skills.
It will also assist a monthly support group to help with interviews and help people to learn to cope in certain social situations.
“To get the two together is absolutely fantastic, for us as a charity and the people who are going to benefit from it,” said DASH manager Adrian Embling.
“These are ambitious projects but we have already had interest.
“Now what we have to do is deliver them.”
He added. “I am excited at the opportunity to provide a truly unique resource for people who have struggled to understand and engage with the employment market, despite a strong desire to be productive and effective in work.
“I hope this resource will bring Swindon employers closer to the extraordinary pool of talent that remains largely underutilised.”
Funding will also allow DASH to launch a wellbeing course to allow adults with autism to grown in confidence, as well as a digital media project for young women.
More generally it will support the charity’s efforts to raise awareness of the condition in Swindon, especially with emergency services as adults with Asperger’s are seven times more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system.
A lack of understanding of Asperger’s can lead to certain behaviours such as bluntness being misconstrued as aggressiveness or disrespect.
DASH project worker Angie Ingram said: “People with Asperger’s may come across as confrontational if they are confronted with a situation that is new to them.
“Their anxiety levels can rise very quickly but they won’t be able to verbalise what they are feeling.
“We have already managed to liaise with a number of professional organisations. It’s about alerting these people to another way of communication.
“This funding will help us support individuals with Asperger’s in Swindon.”