The Wirral Autistic Society has firmly established itself as one of the major employers in the area and is growing rapidly and expects to take on more than 100 people over the next year. It is a significant part of the local economy employing over 600 people and turning over more than £13m in the last financial year.
The Society, based in Bromborough, was founded in 1968 by six Wirral families desperate to provide services for their children as they approached adulthood. The majority of their clients now are local but the services they provide are in demand from all over the country.
The quality and variety of services provided is recognised well beyond Wirral. But with this success has come a rapid expansion as more and more referrals are made to the Society from people diagnosed with autism. This has resulted in the number of staff doubling in the last four years. A total of 140 new jobs have been created in the last year alone and the Society expect to take on around the same number next year when they estimate their turnover will be about £15m.
“Many people think of us as a little local charity and are astonished when they find out just how many people we employ,” said Jim Strain, Director of Support Services. “One of the reasons we need so many people is that a client may typically need between two and three support staff working on a shift system.
But the needs of some of our residential clients are so extensive that they need two support staff at any one time around the clock, seven days a week. This means that taking weekends, holidays and sickness into account, we can need up to a total of 10 people to care for just one client.
We are regularly looking for new staff and welcome approaches from people interested in working with us.”
Those who work directly with the adult autistic clients find their jobs remarkably rewarding. No two people with autism are affected in the same way and the work involves helping them overcome and soften the impact of their difficulties.
Today the Society provides 96 residential care places. Of these, 48 are in ordinary houses in the local community. The remainder are accommodated in housing units at the 23 acre Raby Hall site. The Society’s Community & Vocational Services is also becoming increasingly popular as more and more clients access their fantastic day time facilities. But it is in their Supported Living Services where the Society has seen the biggest growth, from only 6 clients 4 years ago to well over 50 today.
The majority of the Society’s work involves supporting people once they have come out of the education system. Some are full time residents, others visit the Society on a daily basis while the newly opened and specially designed building, The Ferns, provides much needed respite care.
“There is a huge demand from around the country for our respite services,” said Jane Carolan, Director of Care Services “Caring in the home for a person with autism can be massively demanding on the family, not only on mum and dad but for siblings as well. A short break in The Ferns can make a world of difference for them.”
The Society recently opened a new centre in Birkenhead for their Children & Family Service supporting children, young people under 18 with autism and their families. Their services include a drop in centre, parenting courses, a sitting service to give short breaks for families, activity clubs and workshops.
Anybody interested in further information about the Society, job opportunities or how they can support their fundraising activities should contact the Personnel section directly on 0151 334 7510, or e mail: email@example.com