The charity Portsmouth Autism Support Network (PASN) obtained the cash so that it could move its Autinet computer sessions to a new facility after the previous venue became cramped.
“The level of demand meant we didn’t have enough space, and occasionally we had to have waiting lists,” explained Natasha Haji, Fundraising and Events coordinator for PASN.
Receiving the grant has meant that Autinet had its grand opening at its new location at the ‘Pompey in the Community Centre’ on Wednesday 9th September.
“We had a bit of a launch, the mayor was there, a few other guests from other charities as well as new parents and kids. It was a really good event – really nice,” said Natasha.
Now Autinet members have the use of a room with thirty computers, and there is the option of using at least one more room if the group continues to grow.
According to Natasha, the new location has gone down very well with the young people: “It’s got Mac computers. The kids love it – it’s brilliant!”
Autinet gives youngsters more than a chance to hone computer skills and play games – it also gives them an opportunity to socialise and gain valuable money-related skills by running a refreshments shop.
The sessions are supervised jointly by staff at the community centre and volunteers from PASN. It is one of several regular events run by the charity for autistic youngsters – for whom loneliness and social isolation can be major issues.
PASN was started by a group of parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders to help other parents access information following a diagnosis.
It is now run by a board of trustees and provides practical support, information and advice for children and young people and their families and carers in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.
Contributed by Lindsay Acland
Lindsay Acland grew up with an autistic sibling. She has a degree from Durham University and is a freelance journalist and aspiring author living by the UK’s south coast.