Back in 1985, in the early days of the Association, there were only 18 residents and 28 staff at Autism Together. Today we support around 400 people and employ about 1,000 staff.
The first meeting was attended by 25 parents and a decision was taken that subsequent meetings would be informal with a Secretary to take minutes and a Chairperson chosen on a rotating basis, with a senior staff member present to report on progress.
In November 2004, the group’s name was changed to Family & Friends Association to better reflect the input of carers, siblings and friends.
A decision was made that no individual supported person would be discussed at the meetings. Members have agreed to contribute £15 per parent. This money was used to buy a Christmas gift for the staff as a way of saying thank you, but from December 2012 this was replaced by a quarterly Staff Appreciation Draw with cash prizes.
Funds are also used for buying small extras for the use of the people we support and, over the years, has helped the purchase of items such as a vacuum cleaner, music synthesiser, pottery kiln, lawnmowers and even a chicken coop.
The contribution is purely voluntary and is not a membership fee as such, because each family member/carer is automatically a member when their loved one joins Autism Together in either residential, supported living or day services. However, we would encourage you to contribute as it is an important part of the Association’s remit.