First Fundraiser For Autism Wessex
12:09pm 6th March 2013
Pupils and staff at Swanage Middle School took part in their last ever whole school challenge recently and the first for newly named local charity Autism Wessex, formerly known as The Wessex Autistic Society.
The event was a combination of a cross country race on adjacent farm land and then into the school grounds to complete an assault course. After days of heavy rain across the Purbecks the ground was a mud bath but this didn’t stop the hardy students as they set off in their fancy dress outfits.
Tony Armstrong, Fundraiser for Autism Wessex comments, “It was great to see the young people challenging themselves in some quite arduous conditions whist raising vital funds for ongoing support within the community. We would like to thank Deputy Head Adrian Mitchell at Swanage Middle School, and all the pupils and staff for inviting us to be a beneficiary in their final school challenge.”
Autism Wessex has undertaken a comprehensive rebranding that reflects its commitment to remaining current and relevant to its beneficiaries in a changing world.
The headline change is a new name - Autism Wessex - and a brand new look including the logo. The new look was unveiled at a special event held at AFC Bournemouth recently attended by actress and entrepreneur Jane Asher, who is also President of the National Autistic Society.
The charity is also introducing two new ‘sub-brands’ to the organisation – ‘Portfield School’ for education and children’s services and ‘Community Wessex’ for social care services. These are the two main service areas and income generators and it is felt that they should be recognised as standalone brands under the Autism Wessex umbrella. This is to support one of the charity’s main objectives, which is to widen access to its services.
The world is a very different place to when the charity was established nearly 45 years ago and, while people with autism remain the focus of the charity’s work, this change aims to make the organisation more inclusive so that it responds to people’s needs rather than, necessarily, their particular diagnosis.
Whilst services provided at Portfield School and Community Wessex will be accessible to people who do not have autism, the charitable vision remains focused on people with autism and this will continue to steer the work of the organisation’s advocacy and advice services.
Bob Lowndes, Chief Executive of the charity comments; “A great benefit of rebranding is that it allows us to acknowledge our strengths and re-focus on how we can have greatest impact on the communities we support. With local and regional media support this change allows us to use it as a platform to tell people who need us, who we are, what we do and how well we do it.”
“The change is also important because it gives us an opportunity to remind ourselves, and the people and organisations we engage with, of our values. We have always stood for the highest standards and this remains the case. As a leading charity, we have an important role to play in promoting better lives for people with autism and their families. It also reminds us how proud all of us who work for Autism Wessex can be about the many and varied services we offer,” concludes Mr. Lowndes.
As a regional charity Autism Wessex is looking forward to embracing these changes and the positive impact they will have not only on service user’s lives, but those of employees throughout the region.
The charity employs over 450 staff in Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset; 90% of employees work directly with service users either at the school, within residential homes or as part of the community support service under Community Wessex.
Many people with autism need ongoing support, every day of the week, every week of the year. Autism Wessex continues to grow to meet demand and will be opening a new residential home for four young adults in Hampshire in September this year. Over the past three years the charity has acquired and opened a residential home every year to meet demand.