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Who has been voted the Lynn News charity of the year?



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The votes are in for our eight nominees and readers have chosen the National Autistic Society West Norfolk Branch as their charity of the year.

NAS West Norfolk Branch scooped up 692 votes in our reader’s poll online.

They came out ahead of Guide Dogs, Greyfriars Primary School, Bridge For Heroes, Riding for the Disabled, West Norfolk Carers, National Childbirth Trust clothing bank, West Norfolk Deaf Association.

Charity of the year Logos 2021 (46876389)
Charity of the year Logos 2021 (46876389)

Mark Leslie, Editor of the Lynn News, said: “Thank you all for taking part, all would have been very worthy winners but congratulations to the NAS for coming out as our Charity of the Year (COTY).

“For the next year the Lynn News will be working closely with the charity to inform the public about the work the organisation does and shed light on the issues faced by those living with autism.”

It is estimated that around 700,000 people in the UK have a diagnosis of autism. One in 100 children in the UK have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

People with autism may act differently from others. For example they may have trouble reading social cues or find it difficult to cope with change.

It is important to note however that autism does not have a bearing on intelligence, nor is it an illness for which there is a cure.

NAS West Norfolk Branch organises activities for those living with autism in the area, including sensory cinema screenings and other activities CREDIT: NAS West Norfolk Branch (47370001)
NAS West Norfolk Branch organises activities for those living with autism in the area, including sensory cinema screenings and other activities CREDIT: NAS West Norfolk Branch (47370001)

People living with autism may need assistance with daily living, something that NAS can offer support with.

Notable figures with autism include activist Greta Thunberg, Harvey Price, Lewis Carroll author of Alice in Wonderland and fictional character Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory.

NAS West Norfolk Branch organises activities for those living with autism in the area, including sensory cinema screenings and other activities CREDIT: NAS West Norfolk Branch (47369998)
NAS West Norfolk Branch organises activities for those living with autism in the area, including sensory cinema screenings and other activities CREDIT: NAS West Norfolk Branch (47369998)

Members of the committee from NAS West Norfolk Branch expressed delight at being voted the Lynn News charity of the year.

They said: “We feel very honoured to have been selected as Charity of The Year and we thank every single person who kindly voted for us .

“We support over 400 local families of all ages . Our main focus is to provide activities for our autistic members and their siblings , so that families can enjoy being together .

“It’s been great to be able to start organising these again .

“Our activities include swimming at various local pools, gymnastics hall for our children and adults at Lynnsport , we hope to organise tennis coaching during the Summer holidays and we use their running track for our cyclists.

“We also go trampolining at High Altitude as Rebound Therapy is very helpful for many of our members who have sensory conditions.

“ Additionally, we regularly use Farmer Freds soft play centre and Skaters for our roller skating. We also hire the sensory and soft play rooms at Churchill Park Complex needs school , which is great as many of our people are very familiar with the setting .

“We also have Bushcraft and beach hut activities. We are going to the Princess Theatre Summer show and will also be attending the relaxed Christmas panto at The Corn Exchange . We try to exclusively hire these venues for our members, so that they can relax in a welcoming atmosphere.

“We buy tickets for relaxed sensory screenings at The Luxe and our adults enjoy a meal out at The Globe . All of our activities encourage keeping fit and active and socialisation which helps isolation . We also organise coffee support groups for anyone who wants to come along .

“Our four volunteers on the committee are unpaid and are either parents or carers of autistic people or we are autistic ourselves .

“Each of us is caring for a family or looking after ourselves . So we are very much living our autistic everyday lives as well as organising all the above for our members . In addition, we also attend these activities ourselves, to ensure everyone keeps safe and to encourage socialisation.”

NAS undertake studies to find out what will “make society work” for autistic people.

On their website they have said: “Our understanding of autism has improved a lot since we started in 1962. But there is still more we need to know to make society work for autistic people.

We work with autistic people, families, academics in universities and other autism charities to make sure that research is good quality and reflects people’s real experiences. “

At the University of Kent NAS is studying whether types of therapy would be beneficial for those with autism.

They said: “Getting the right mental health support is one of the biggest challenges for autistic children and adults. There is good evidence that talking psychological therapies are an effective treatment for anxiety, but many of these treatments have not been tested with autistic people who have learning disabilities.

Through co-production, researchers, autistic people and families will adapt an existing anxiety treatment for autistic people with learning disabilities.

This will be piloted and tested with feedback from participants and families, and then trialled on a larger scale comparing outcomes with autistic people receiving current treatments.”

NAS are currently working with the NHS Trust in Leeds and York to find if Lego can be beneficial.

The primary objectives of the research are to examine the impact of the approach in relation to social and emotional development, perceived social isolation and general mental and physical wellbeing.

The overall aim is to make social interaction interesting to those who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).



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