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Charity to the rescue of autistic adults who miss out on support

Autism Hub holds weekly drop-in session at café, but plans full-time operation

17 August, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Autism Hub volunteers: ‘We are just trying to make the case that this is a service that is really needed’

A GRASSROOTS charity which provides much-needed help for autistic adults aims to raise thousands of pounds to expand.

The Autism Hub has recently opened a one-day-a-week drop-in session at a Pentonville Road café but wants to become a full-time operation.

It was founded last year when Ethney Anderson, Zainab Rahemtulla and Elleny Page, who were working in autism support, realised there was little provision for over-25s diagnosed with autism later in life. Some adults fall through the gap, they say, if they have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s and do not meet the eligibility for health and social care services.

One volunteer, Nick Stone, said that after his diagnosis three years ago at the age of 49 he was given “no support whatsoever”. “It was disappointing and that’s what we want to address here,” Mr Stone said.

Instead, he found the Asperger London Area Group, which Ms Anderson is involved in, through a Google search.

It is estimated there are 1,020 adults in Islington with autism who do not fall under learning disability or mental health services.

The Hub, backed by Islington Cripplegate Foundation and Arsenal in the Community fund, was launched at the The Courtyard, part of St Mary Magdalene Academy last year.

It has since expanded into the Time For… Cafe in Pentonville Road on a Monday from 10am to 8pm.

However, the ambition is to provide a Monday-to-Friday service, bringing together agencies across the borough, with paid employees as well as volunteers offering peer support, counselling and help with employment.

Support would be provided to prevent autistic adults deteriorating with other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

The charity aims to raise about £500,000 through grants and donations.

Ms Rahemtulla said it was a “reality” that grassroots groups were having to fill a crucial gap in provision nationwide.

“For everyone, budgets are squeezed,” Ms Anderson said. “We are just trying to make the case that this is a service that is really needed. Hopefully, others will come on board.

“We know the support from the services we offer will help people not to need further input later down the line. There are a lot of people on the spectrum who develop mental health issues simply because they are not getting the support they need.”

Ms Rahemtulla said the charity wanted to work collaboratively with other organisations and not duplicate services.

“We have a whole array of people diagnosed later in life. How do you process that? So having a safe space to talk about that and access services is important,” she added.

Mr Stone said that meeting other adults with autism had benefited him, adding: “You are in company and meeting people who have been through the same experience and are wondering what the next steps are going to be. For me, that’s important.”

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