Recently, our joint discussion group for people we support and staff celebrated its 10 year (+ 1) anniversary!

Known as the Meeting Together Forum, this group has come together roughly once a month since 2011 to discuss a wide range of ideas and items relating to our organisation, in order to give the people we support an outlet and opportunity to ask questions and give opinions on their care and on how the charity is run.

A range of different individuals, management and staff have been part of the forum since it started. While the forum had to take a break during the pandemic, it has returned this year, which has allowed the group to belatedly celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Meeting Together Forum, just 1-year late!

The anniversary meeting was combined with a party for the forum members, but there was business to attend to as well.

Michael, Clare, Keren, Ken, Graeme, Clayton and Stephen were all in attendance to represent the people we support, while Julie, Ian, and Callum represented the staff.

Firstly, the group had a chat about what they enjoyed about meeting together. Here are some quotes about what they liked most:

“Friendships have been made.”

“Get to know what is going on.”

“Like reviewing paperwork.”

“Like sharing good news.”

“Nice to look at policies.”

“Like the location.”

“Like the drinks and snacks.”

After finalising planning details for the next two disco nights at Giles Shirley Hall, the group discussed ideas for the future of the forum. Ken asked if the group could arrange some days out together or other activities. Mike suggested they could go bowling one night after a meeting, a sort of team-building session. What a great idea!

As part of the meetings, the forum often look at an easy-read policy document and give their thoughts on it.

This month they looked at the CQC’s report about Reduction in Restraint. Clare, Mike & Ken read sections talking about how some organisations might use restraint, seclusion and segregation in services like hospitals or care homes for autistic people, people with learning disabilities and/or mental health conditions.

During the group discussion, everyone felt that they were supported very well by their staff at Autism Together.

Ken said, if he is feeling down or not in a good mood, he knows that he can talk to his staff team who will support him. Mike said he finds it comforting to know he can talk to his staff team and they will help him if he needs it. Clare said she has a good staff team whom she can talk to.

They finished this section of the meeting with a chat about how all Autism Together’s staff receive regular training to give the very best support they can. All agreed this is a good thing.

Julie Logan, Autism Together’s Quality and Assurance Manager, who organises and chairs the forum, said:

“We had a fab time at the Meeting Together Forum and anniversary party!

“During the meeting we also discussed opportunities for people we support to come and spend a morning or afternoon at Oak House, to help interview potential new Support Staff.

“The forum meetings are open to all, and any person we support is more than welcome to attend.”