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(UK) Autism charity 'inundated with referrals'; critically short of funding

Jan 11, 2024, Daily Echo: The Positive Path Foundation to take funding fight to Downing Street https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/24041945.positive-path-foundation-takes-funding-fight-downing-street/

A Hampshire autism charity is struggling to secure vital funding - despite being "bombarded" with calls for help.

The Positive Path Foundation is set to take its fight to 10 Downing Street in a bid to safeguard the services it provides for young adults.

The New Forest-based charity was founded by Jane Atkinson, an autism therapist whose son George has "high-functioning" autism.

She said: "I'm being inundated with referrals - eight to ten a day. My husband spends a lot of time applying for grants. We might get one of £5,000 [$6.4K] and then one of £7,000 [$8.9K], but that could be it for the year.
"We need at least £30,000[$38K] a year and ideally £60,000 [$76K]."…

Jane said: "There are no more spaces for specialist provision within the education system, so thousands of autistic children and young adults are now completely excluded from school or college.

"Most mainstream schools are not equipped with the right resources or specialist teachers to meet the needs of these young people.

"The social care system for autistic people is also broken and under-resourced. The burden of failures elsewhere falls on mental health services, which in turn cannot cope with the demand....

"We're bombarded with demand from a failing, resource-starved system. "We are well qualified and able to play our part, yet we consistently struggle to find the financial support we need to fill the gap.

Jane also criticised the difficulties faced by autistic children and adults struggling to access education and benefits.

"Faced with years of delay and adversity from the system that is supposed to support them, the mental health of many high-functioning autistic children and young adults deteriorates.

"The results are revealed in statistics on unemployment, exclusion from education, and even suicide."

A government spokesperson said: "We’ve made £4.2m [$5.4M] available this year to improve services for autistic children and young people, and the NHS Long Term Plan will expand and transform mental health services in England with at least an extra £2.3bn [$4.1B] a year by March 2024."

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