Government to launch national autism awareness campaign late in 2019
Autism Together involved in preparations
Autism Together is working behind the scenes with the Department of Health and Social Care and other charities to help formulate plans for a national awareness-raising campaign on behalf of the UK’s autism community.
The campaign’s objective will be to give the public more of an insight into autism as a condition. Despite high levels of autism awareness (recorded as 90% in our charity’s Future 50 report, published in 2018), public understanding of the condition remains much lower (at only 60%)
The campaign will be launched towards the end of 2019, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the Autism Act. Autism remains the only disability with its own Act of Parliament.
The Department of Health and Social Care used World Autism Awareness Week (1-7 April) to announce its plans for the campaign, with Minister of State Matt Hancock saying: “I want a public autism awareness raising campaign, so that we can improve perceptions of the condition and ensure people are understanding and appreciative of the situations autistic people may find challenging.
“I am looking forward to making progress on this and hope that we can celebrate some real improvements in autism awareness in our country.”
And last week, Autism Together’s CEO, Robin Bush, appeared before the first of several planned parliamentary committees being held by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism. Chaired by MP and autism campaigner Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan, this group is now looking to review the national autism strategy.
Robin reported on the findings of our charity’s Future 50 report, feeding back the top five priorities for change as voted on by members of the autism community. He said: “Each and every one of these priorities is of critical importance and we will make sure, in this key anniversary year, that the voice of the autism community in the North West is heard loud and clear by government.”
The top five priorities are:
- Priority One (76% of survey respondents chose this as their primary priority): Mandatory autism awareness training for public facing staff across the public and private sectors, eg: schools, medical staff, leisure centres, shops, restaurants, Job Centres, public transport, social care staff.
- Priority Two (57%): Increased investment in special needs education to provide improved educational outcomes and better life chances.
- Priority Three (55%): Sufficient local authority funding of care packages to ensure people on the spectrum live full and meaningful lives rather than a bare minimum of funding just to keep them ‘safe’.
- Priority Four (53%): Support for children and adults on the spectrum to help them understand how to make friends and how to understand the difference between a good and a bad friend (ie: a friend who may bully or manipulate).
- Priority Five (45%): More support for the families and carers of those on the spectrum including properly funded respite care.
For the full Future 50 report visit: www.autismtogether.co.uk/future-50-survey