ASD Family Help: Social connections and control

03 June 2021

For learning disabled people, feelings of isolation and lack of control over access to resources can be heightened due to social and systemic barriers. Social connections and individual and collective control are two of the important social determinants of health which impact our life expectancy and long-term health outcomes.

ASD Family Help, which is funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme are supporting people with autism, learning disabilities and learning difficulties to build social connections and gain individual and collective control.

The project provides opportunities for people to access activities in their local community where they feel comfortable to explore their interests and build social connections. A committee which is made up of project participants and parents of young people involved in the project leads the decision making process about what the project offers.

From this committee, a number of groups and activities have been set up such as a teen’s social group, a family friendly play session, drop-in support sessions and arts and crafts activities. The benefits of these activities and how they have been developed go far beyond having a welcoming space to learn, play and socialise.

Participants have been able to network with like-minded people who have experienced similar barriers in society. The ability to identify their needs in the community and put services in place has helped people recognise their self-worth.

Rachael Chandler, Project Manager - Children & Families Activities, ASD Family Help said:

“There is a welcome move towards hearing directly from autistic individuals and those with learning disabilities and learning difficulties and amplifying their voices. I think that’s very empowering for our participants that they’re very much the forefront of that and involved in owning what they want to do. At ASD Family Help we prioritise this and as staff, volunteers and project participants we’ve learnt so much from one another.”

There is a strong body of evidence which demonstrates that people and communities need to have greater power over the decisions and actions that affect their lives in order to improve and maintain their health.

People’s Health Trust’s Active Communities programme evaluation in 2020 found that 84% of participants felt they could have a say in how activities were designed, developed and run. Through the collective control they develop by leading their projects together, local people have built more self-confidence, aspiration, a sense of empowerment and a greater sense of control over the rest of their lives.

ASD Family Help recognises the importance of bringing the voices of people with lived experience of inequalities to the forefront and creating an environment where individuals feel empowered to set up new activities and opportunities that match their needs and interests. The impact of this is that people who have previously faced barriers in society have control over implementing lasting change and tackling inequalities.

ASD Family Help are funded through our Active Communities programme using money raised by Health Lottery London West.

You have already completed an application for funding, are you sure you would like to submit another application? You should only submit another application if it is for a different project. If you want to amend an application that has already been submitted, please call us on 020 7749 9100.

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