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30 March 2021

Council supports World Autism Awareness Week

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally-recognised day taking place on 2 April every year.

In the week surrounding this day, the public are encouraged to take part in World Autism Awareness Week - where people across the UK take part in activities to raise money and awareness for the National Autistic Society. This year’s Autism Awareness Week runs from 29 March - 4 April.

Cumbria County Council supports people with autism in a number of ways. Each of the six local committees - made up of county councillors from each district - have a nominated Autism Champion. Their role is to promote autism awareness in their local communities, developing opportunities for training and information, and supporting local libraries to achieve autism friendly status. They also help to inform and support the work of council officers from various council service areas, including Public Health, Children’s Services, Policy and Commissioning.

A number of libraries across Cumbria, including Millom and Whitehaven are now recognised by the National Autistic Society as being autism friendly, with several more working towards achieving this recognition. Autism friendly libraries provide a welcoming environment for autistic people of all ages, with a range of facilities and resources, including a sensory area and access to regular weekly sessions. This helps to develop the confidence, skills and opportunities for people with autism, and offers a chance for autistic people to spend time together with their friends and families in an informal social setting.

The National Autistic Society website has lots of information and resources available and ideas for fundraising from home (including sponsored events and quizzes) - for more information and guidance, visit: www.autism.org.uk. 

Cllr Deborah Earl, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Local Communities, said:

“I am delighted the Council is supporting National Autism Awareness Week. Councillors and officers have worked alongside members of the local business community, parents, carers and people on the autistic spectrum to develop autism awareness communities all over the county, allowing people living with autism and their families to access and enjoy services and facilities that we all take for granted.

“It's great to see many of our libraries are achieving or working towards autism-friendly status. It makes a huge difference to people living with autism and their families, and we are looking forward to welcoming them back to our libraries when restrictions allow.”

Cllr Christine Bowditch, Chair of Cumbria County Council and Autism Friendly Champion for Carlisle, said:

“As Chair of Cumbria County Council, Autism Champion for Carlisle and mother of an adult on the autism spectrum, I am passionate about raising awareness of the challenges facing autistic people and their families across Cumbria. One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are about 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

“The coronavirus pandemic will have impacted on many activities and fundraisers taking place this year but there are still several ways you can get involved and show your support from home. The National Autistic Society have a fantastic suite of free resources on their website for all age groups to help people learn about autism. A little understanding can go a long way and make a big difference to people living with autism and their families, so I’d urge everyone to take a look.”

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally-recognised day taking place on 2 April every year.