Families with autistic children are celebrating after a support group that organises social activities was given a cash boost.
The Loads of Autistic Fun (LOAF) project run by Autism Bedfordshire received a £2,500 grant from new initiative The Paradim Foundation, which aims to help improve the lives of individuals and communities in the area Paradigm Housing Group operates.
Gill Christmas, senior funding officer at Autism Bedfordshire said: “This type of funding is vital to enable us to keep our groups running and it’s absolutely fantastic to get this support from the Paradigm Foundation.
“Our families rely on the support we give them. As well as giving the children a safe environment to try out new activities, we encourage siblings to join in and it gives the parents a chance to share information and have a break while their children are well looked after.”
LOAF is for children up to the age of 12 and groups run every fortnight on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm during term time at Ivel Valley School on The Baulk in Biggleswade and at other venues across Bedfordshire.
Julie Mackney, who attends the Biggleswade group with her 11-year-old son Charlie agrees. “Chatting to the other parents helps to stop you feeling so alone.
“The support is invaluable, we can share problems and tips while knowing our children are being looked after and are happy.”
Another mum, Juliette Felce who attends a different group with her six-year-old daughter Keira, added: “The group is fantastic for Keira, there is no pressure and she can choose which activities she gets involved with.
“And it’s great for me as I can relax, knowing she is safe and happy and I really enjoy the support I get from other parents.”
Mike Gahagan, chair of the Paradigm Foundation, says: “LOAF really does provide a unique service to families, helping to reduce the isolation autistic children and their families often feel. We are delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile cause.”
LOAF sessions cost£7.50 per family at the door. If you would like to register your interest, call the Autism Bedfordshire Office on 01234 214871 for further details. To find out more visit www. autismbedfordshire.net