Crawley charities team up to relaunch autism coffee morning

DM1617882a.jpg Crawley Community Awards 2016. Autism Support receives the Support Group award from Katie Bennett. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-160320-005148008
DM1617882a.jpg Crawley Community Awards 2016. Autism Support receives the Support Group award from Katie Bennett. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-160320-005148008
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Two recent winners of the Crawley Community Awards, have this week announced the launch of a new monthly coffee morning for parents and carers of people with autism in the town.

Support group Autism Support Crawley and charity The Spingboard Project have joined forces for the first time for these events.

DM1617789a.jpg Crawley Community Awards 2016. Victoria Sant presents the Charity award to The Springboard Project on behalf of Gatwick Hilton. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160320-004809008

DM1617789a.jpg Crawley Community Awards 2016. Victoria Sant presents the Charity award to The Springboard Project on behalf of Gatwick Hilton. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160320-004809008

The first of these will be held on April 28 as part of National Autism Awareness Month.

Autism Support Group Crawley co-founder Maria Cook said this was brilliant news.

“We had evening meetings and other events but no coffee morning. Autism Support Sussex used to run a coffee morning. But that stopped earlier this year. So since then there’s been no autism-focused coffee morning in Crawley.

“We support over 600 parents and carers. We had evening meetings and other events but no coffee mornings. I think they are vital to help parents and carers and to offer advice.”

Mrs Cook who lives in Pound Hill, had the idea of the coffee morning in late 2015 but her group, Autism Support Group Crawley ‘had nowhere to hold them’, adding, “We’re only a voluntary group made up of parents.”

So she approached The Springboard Project and got a positive reaction.

Su Parrish, service manager at Springboard said: “We are delighted to be able to share our facilities with families from Autism Support Crawley.

“This is a great opportunity to offer more support to more families. We can provide a venue that is very welcoming.”

Lesley Malli who has an eight-year-old son called Alex with autism will be a ‘tea-lady’ at the event.

She said: “I’m very pleased. These offer such good help for all of us. You get to share experiences and knowledge. For some things you find out more from other parents than from professionals.”

However for those who doubt the significance of a coffee morning Lesley added: “If there were no coffee mornings like this you would be stuck on your own at home. They get you out. They really help to pick you back up.”

Jenny Lockyer has a 16 year old son with moderate autism. She has recently started working more so might not be able to attend. But she has been to coffee mornings before so has seen the benefits.

She said: “We all face additional pressure and they (the coffee mornings) are a real outlet for that. They also offer useful signposting to resources.”

This launch builds on the charities’ recent success at the Crawley Community Awards in late March. The Springboard Project picked up the Charity Award and Autism Support Crawley the Support Group Award.

Maria Cook says this award has raised her group’s profile and given them ‘a virtual pat on the back’.

Though Crawley-based her support group covers the entire RH postal code area.

All parents and carers of people on the autistic spectrum or who have a social communication disorder are welcome to drop in between 10am and 12pm for coffee and chat. They can bring other children along with them too.

The coffee mornings will be held at Springboard’s 74 Stagelands Centre in Langley Green on the fourth Thursday of every month during term time. They are scheduled to continue until at least the end of 2016.

For more details call Springboard’s Crawley centre on 01293 531963.