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From Telegraph & Argus, April 19th, 2018
Written by Karen Pickering

AN AUTISM resource and support group has received its first cheque from the Big Lottery Fund. As part of the fund’s Reaching Communities scheme, AWARE was told late last year it had been granted £219,526 over a three-year period to help with core costs. AWARE is a parent-run group that supports over 300 families, across the Airedale and Wharfedale region and beyond, including in Bradford, with children and young adults on the autistic spectrum – whether they have been formally diagnosed or not. It says the funding is vital at a time when large-scale cuts are being made to support services for children in the area.
Link worker at the group, Margaret Nash, 53, said: “While the incidence of autism is increasing, statutory services are decreasing, meaning it’s taking longer for people to be diagnosed.”
She said this was a major issue as “lots of doors are closed” to those who have not been formally diagnosed.
The group continues to help during diagnosis, which can often be prolonged.
After a diagnosis, AWARE carries on its care regardless of the outcome, if the family feels the support is still helping them.
Mrs Nash said she was proud of the group’s holistic approach to autism, ensuring the whole family was supported.
The charity offers a variety of services for the families it supports, from organising fun activities to helping parents through the maze of services which cross health, social care and education boundaries.
Receiving the appropriate support can make a real difference to a person with autism, helping them to maximise their skills and achieve full potential.
AWARE held an event on Tuesday at Addingham Youth Centre where it celebrated the success of being granted Lottery funding, as well as marking World Autism Awareness Week.
Among the guests were Keighley MP John Grogan, and Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Doreen Lee.
There were also a number of AWARE staff members and volunteers on hand to provide care and advice for attendees.
Some activities on the day included cycling, cookery and family-to-family support.
A set of grandparents even made the trip from Hampshire for the event, where 22 families turned up in total.
Mrs Nash explained the group was so far-reaching because it wants to stretch to “those who are isolated”.
She added that the team at AWARE were “extremely grateful” to the Reaching Communities scheme for the funding.
More information on AWARE’s services can be found at their website,