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Annual Review 2016

Making a Difference


Annual Review 2015/16

The purpose of this document is to demonstrate the impact we have had on the lives of those affected by autism. Our work is entirely centred around the people we support and their individual needs and wishes. We help people achieve their potential and live life to the fullest, whilst dealing with the many challenges autism can bring.


Welcome from Andy Gill


Our Vision & Objectives


Advocacy Services Amy’s Story


Portfield School - Education Jake’s Story



Portfield School - The Hub Charlie’s Story



Community Wessex - Children’s Homes & Respite 11, 13


Community Wessex - Community Support Robert’s Story 15


Community Wessex - Residential Homes Dom’s Story



Fundraising Josh’s Story


Central Support Services & Statement of Financial Activity 21


Chief Executive Report & Chair of Trustees Report


Thank you



To show how we have impacted on people’s lives over the past year, we have filled this report with real-life stories. You will meet real people in these pages whose lives we have affected in the best possible way thanks to the unfaltering work of our dedicated professionals. It is a reminder that each and every day we are focusing on positive outcomes for all to achieve our vision where people with autism are active citizens enjoying a good quality of life. As a charity, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2018, Autism Wessex has and continues to support thousands of individuals, and families affected by autism. Throughout these pages we share some of their stories to showcase not only the work we do but the achievements of so many of our wonderful individuals who we support.


Welcome from Andy Gill Andy Gill is 36, and, with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, has been accessing the services of Autism Wessex for over eight years. He met his wife Daisy at Drop-In Group and they are parents to their beautiful one year old daughter, Maisie. Andy welcomes you by sharing the impact Autism Wessex has had on his life. “When I first encountered Autism Wessex following a nervous breakdown, I was depressed, newly-diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and living with my parents without any real prospect of moving on. I had my meals cooked for me and my clothes cleaned, never ventured outside without my mum or dad, couldn’t maintain my finances, and had truly eye-watering dress sense. I spent my time indulging my obsessions, and the slightest element of stress or disruption to my daily routine sent me into a spin. What was worse, I loved the sound of my own voice, didn’t care what anybody else had to say, and thought I was right about everything. ‘I’m not arrogant,’ I used to say. ‘It’s not arrogance when you’re God.’ After eight years of support, my life could not be more different. Moving to an assisted living house gave me a stepping stone to greater independence. I learnt to wash my own clothes, cook my own meals. I began to budget and go shopping, first with support and then by myself. Attending the Drop-In and Social Support Group gave me access to new social opportunities, and over time, with incredible patience, my support workers taught me to listen, and to consider what was said, and to realise my place within the wider society of human beings. What does this support mean in practical terms? I recently got married to a girl who also has Asperger’s Syndrome, and we live together with our infant daughter, a dog, a cat, two chickens and some fish. For a person who couldn’t look after himself eight years ago, looking after a home and a family is a remarkable leap forward. I am independent, happy and confident, and none of it would be possible without regular support to keep me focused on the tasks at hand, offload my troubles, and help guide me through this challenging marvel that is life. There is no greater accolade I can give than to say that I am the husband, father and person I am today because of Autism Wessex.”


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Objectives “For the public benefit for the provision of education, social care, advocacy and other support services to those whose lives are affected by autism, learning and developmental difficulties or mental health difficulties.” Principal objectives of the year were; Secure ‘Good’ Ofsted status at Portfield School (having previously fallen to ‘Requiring Improvement’). Pursue strategy for increasing day student population at Portfield School and raising student numbers. Secure ‘Good’ Ofsted status within Children’s Homes (having previously fallen to ‘requiring improvement’) and re-position for growth and extension into community-based housing. Pursue community-based children’s homes. Commission a new residential care home for four adults. Secure growth in Community Support Services. Re-frame delivery of clinical support services. Maintain existing information, advice and advocacy services.

Our Vision “Our vision is of a world where people with autism are active citizens enjoying maximum independence and a good quality of life.” In pursuing this vision the charity’s principal aims and activities are: • To provide education and social care services for children and families of children with autism, learning and developmental difficulties or mental health difficulties

To secure net fundraising income of £250K to fund information, advice and advocacy services and to support the capital costs associated with a new adult care home. • To provide information, advice and advocacy services.

In what has been a challenging year for the charity, performance against these objectives has been mixed. This Annual Review details the outcomes for each business area in the pages to follow.

The charity’s focus on quality, value for money and impact has proven effective and, over many years, the charity has been successful in responding to many thousands of direct and indirect beneficiaries and has enjoyed year on year growth in its activities.

• To provide social care services to adults with autism, learning and developmental difficulties or mental health difficulties


Advocacy Services Information & Advice

Our advocacy services have had another busy and successful year. These services include our information and advice service, drop-in groups for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome in Bournemouth, Dorchester and Yeovil, support groups for parents, a parent training programme and the provision of an ‘alert card’ to the local autism community. These services are well-utilised and fill an important gap in society.

1,726 The service responded to 1,726 enquiries from parents, people with autism and professionals. This is an increase of 8% on the previous year.

Over 100 parents attending the four parent training programmes delivered across the region during the year giving very positive feedback as to their enhanced understanding and confidence in responding to the needs of their child.

An average of 45 adults attending our free weekly drop in groups in Yeovil, Dorchester, and Bournemouth with the large majority reporting benefits in their confidence and overall well-being.

Amy’s Story Amy Roach who attends Bournemouth Drop-In Group presented her Autism Alert Card to receive the help she needed after a fall when out with a friend in Bournemouth. Autism Wessex launched the Autism Alert card earlier this year.

32 Autism Awareness talks were delivered to over 450 people in settings such as schools, banks, vets, shops and colleges. We promoted our Advocacy services at seven organised events.

An Autism Alert Card was launched and we now have over 300 card holders registered. This card is to support an appropriate response from those services when engaging with a person with autism.

Alert Card Scheme The Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole autism alert card scheme is managed and provided by the Advocacy service at Autism Wessex, and funded by Dorset Police. Just one year after the scheme was launched it issued its 300th card. The cards are issued free of charge to people aged 10 years and over on the autism spectrum, which includes Asperger’s syndrome. The cards are there to be used by people with autism who may find themselves in an unfamiliar or potentially difficult situation and are a quick and easy way of letting people know the card holder is on the autism spectrum and needs help or support.

These are credit card sized and are designed to be carried at all times and to be shown if a person with autism needs help or needs to give an explanation. Amy said: “I was walking to catch the bus with my friend Daniel when I tripped and fell. I ended up with a hairline fracture to my arm, broken glasses and bruises around my eye. I felt scared and was struggling to speak, Daniel reminded me to get my alert card out of my purse.” Amy presented her Alert Card to some nearby construction workers who helped her by offering her a seat and glass of water. They continued to offer assistance by calling the emergency numbers on the reverse of the card. Karen Wilmshurst, Advocacy Manager at Autism Wessex said: “It is good to know the Alert Card was effective at the right time. It is reassuring to know people can present the card when they are feeling vulnerable. Autism can mean people have communication difficulties which can make them anxious and behave in manner that could be alarming, so by showing the card a person with autism is able to get the right help when they need it.” The autism alert card includes simple, practical advice, the cardholder’s name and two emergency contacts. Amy continues: “I was pleased I could show my alert card because I was feeling very anxious and I needed some help.” Amy’s friend Daniel adds, “I always carry my Alert Card, it is important to make people autism aware especially when first aid is required.” Autism is invisible. The Alert Card continues to help people be seen and heard.


Portfield School Education

Portfield School was successful in securing a ‘Good’ Ofsted status reflecting the very positive quality of education and experience it affords its students and as acknowledged by parents and other advocates.

Jake’s Story

In consequence of a ‘Good’ Ofsted, and supported by a wider strategy to play a more active part in the local day school community, referrals have been strong and the school is now responding to children and young people of a wider ability range than was previously the case. During the year the school had an average population of 56 students.

Jake joined Portfield School in September 2015 at the age of six. “Sometimes I would break down and cry at night, especially after a hard day with Jake. I would lay awake wondering what was wrong with him. I know now he was just born a little different and that’s OK.”

Portfield School is for up to 70 children and young people at its main site at Parley and its centre for 14 -19 year old students in Christchurch. The school is led by its joint head teachers following the departure of Head Teacher Tyler Collins this year.

The school has made good progress in meeting the increasingly complex needs of the children being referred to us. At a cost of £40,000 the new Interactive Room is an asset we are proud to offer our pupils and teachers to benefit the school community as a whole.

One of our first early years pupils, Jake, is now flourishing. With capacity for a large number of early years students we look forward to welcoming more pupils in the future.

The Portfield School Hub is a dedicated resource for the provision of children and young people with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome based at Portfied School, The Hub has 13 pupils and caters for 4 to 19 year olds.

The Interactive Room is a state of the art sensory space and was officially launched by Harry Redknapp in December 2015. “The difference such a space makes to the development of those students with additional needs cannot be underestimated. Just an hour in this immersive space decreases anxiety, improves communication, enhances interpersonal interactions, improves mood and results in fewer disruptive behaviours. The benefit to individuals and in turn communities, is profound.” (Head Teacher, Portfield School)

Jake’s Mum, Cheryl

“Jake’s early milestones were all appropriate for his stage of development. He was sitting at six months, walking at nine months, and started to talk at twelve months. From the age of about sixteen months we started to have some concerns about Jake’s behaviour. He was always running off, difficult to control, disruptive, and did not follow instructions. But for a long time we dismissed his behaviours as ‘terrible twos’. When he started nursery five months after his second birthday, they recognised problems with his understanding and communication immediately, and were very concerned about his behavioural difficulties. They were unable to refer him until he was three years old. So we waited and struggled on in the meantime. Once he turned three we had to wait almost another year until Jake started to have a few sessions with a speech and language therapist which eventually became regular sessions with Jake receiving nine hours of 1:1 support from a trained SEN Nursery Teacher at his Nursery. Jake left Nursery to start mainstream school. Jake was introduced slowly to mainstream school and only attended school in the mornings for his reception year. Jake struggled, we struggled and his teachers struggled. By the time Jake entered Year 1 he was awarded a statement of SEN and given thirty hours of 1:1 support. This meant he was able to attend school for longer periods but it also meant Jake was taught away from his peers, never had lunch at school or playtime with his classmates. He was taught alone in ‘Jake’s Den’ for the duration of his second year at mainstream school. By this time Jake was realising he was different and not in a way that was being celebrated. Jake became very unhappy. Similarly I was exhausted taking Jake to and from school three

times a day as Jake wasn’t able to stay for lunch. After eighteen months in a mainstream setting it was agreed between his teachers and SENCO that Jake’s needs could not be met in a mainstream setting. After a further six month wait we were informed the Local Authority had agreed that a place should be sought at a specialist school. And this is when our lives finally took a turn for the better. Jake was offered a place at Portfield School in July 2015 and started in September. Now Jake attends Portfield as a day pupil and is so happy and excited to go to school. Jake has already been able to experience so many new things. Jake is already achieving major milestones, writing independently for the first time and is learning and remembering his letters, sounds and numbers at school every day. These basic learning tasks have always been a struggle for Jake. He has achieved so much in a short space of time since attending Portfield. We are so proud of Jake and all he has achieved. We have a very happy boy who loves his new school. I am so glad I contacted Portfield – they have truly changed our lives for the better and I look forward to Jake achieving loads more in the future. I know now that Jake is in the right school and the best environment for him to develop in. We are all very happy and content knowing this. And there was a time when we never thought we’d get to where we are today.”


Portfield School The Hub

Charlie’s Story Ten year old Charlie Green joined The Hub at Portfield School for students with High Functioning Autism in January 2016. Her Mum shares her family’s story. Like so many other families, the Greens enjoy the beach and outdoors, the company of their beloved guinea pigs ‘Bob’ and ‘Buster’ and ‘Hunter’ the cat, alongside family holidays. The family lives in Southbourne. Addison is eight and his sister Charlie, is ten. Mum is a nurse. Dad works in Compliance for an Insurance company. Like just 1 in 100 families, the Green’s daughter is on the Autism Spectrum with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. As part of her condition, Charlie is battling with issues ranging from sleep problems, inflexible behaviour, regular meltdowns, echolalia (repetition of vocalisations associated with autism), sensory issues, high anxiety and a brief spell of self harming. Mum Tiffany explains further; “I had always felt there was something different about Charlie from a very early age. She would come out with grown up statements and didn’t respond or interact socially as expected, particularly with other children. “My husband put it down to shyness for a long time but she was confident doing things without interaction, like dancing or being on stage. Whilst at school, Charlie was referred to the Occupational Therapist due to issues with her writing. This appointment lead to us booking a meeting with the school SENCO. Eighteen months later we had a diagnosis of Autism. It was a relief to know what we were dealing with and be able to put a name to it.” Getting a diagnosis was profound for the family, who felt their daughter was struggling and not getting the support she needed to understand the world around her. “We had heard of autism prior to diagnosis but didn’t truly appreciate or understand the full impact it can have on daily lives. Things with Charlie unfortunately got worse before they got better.” The Green family resolved to do anything in their power to help their daughter. Tiffany continues; “Home life was getting desperate with meltdowns from Charlie lasting an hour or so, and with increasingly aggressive behaviour. Charlie was extremely unhappy and we were very concerned. She had fallen behind at her mainstream school and presented increased sensory needs, leaving her unable to concentrate and learn.” The Local Authority finally agreed to move Charlie to a specialist Autism Specific Placement and Charlie was offered a place at ‘The Hub’ at Portfield School. ‘The Hub’ is a specialist service for high functioning students at Portfield school. Tiffany concludes; “Within the first two weeks of Charlie starting at Portfield School we noticed an amazing change in her. She was much calmer and having far fewer meltdowns. We could see glimpses of our vibrant, cheerful, funny daughter again, which was so lovely after such a long time. Charlie even said, ‘I can be myself there.’ Things continue to go well at Portfield and we are happy that she is finally in the right nurturing environment for her needs. She continues to be anxious, and she will always have autism, but we feel with the help of Autism Wessex, she has the opportunity to meet her potential in life and be happy.”


Community Wessex

Children’s Homes and Respite Care

The charity’s ‘Children’s Homes’ provide flexible packages of care including respite provision at Wessex Lodge, as well as on-site residential homes for students who board at the school.

Respite Care We recognise that as much as parents/carers need a break from loved ones, children need a break from their grown ups too. Over this past year we have been successful in creating personalised activity plans for everyone in our care, whether they are staying with us for one night or longer. It is an opportunity for us to plan a really enjoyable break for children so that parents get the break they need too, safe in the knowledge their child is not only safe but happy. Mum Steffe explains the positive impact this had on her family.

“Wessex Lodge has been a lifeline for us when we truly needed a break. Equally, it gave Peter a break from us. Peter was becoming increasingly dependent on me and increasingly less willing to do anything with others. We were keen for Peter to continue to develop his independence and Wessex Lodge has been brilliant at keeping his busy mind involved and interested.

There are six houses (registered as one children’s home) which, during the year, provided residential care to an average of 23 children and young people and respite care to a further 25 children from the local community.

Wessex Lodge put together this brilliant programme of activities for three days to make sure he was happy for those 3 days. And that’s so important. Respite isn’t just somewhere to stick your kids so you can go and do what you want to do. It’s about knowing your child is going to be happy and enjoy respite as well. Peter loves Wessex Lodge.”

Steffe, Peter’s Mum

Wessex Lodge provides a one-of-a-kind service with benefits far beyond that of the individuals we support. We provide family stability and put the balance back into people’s lives.

Children’s Homes As a result of having a high number of graduates this year, we have fewer residential students and an increase in day students. This has also meant less demand for our children’s homes services and this, along with fewer referrals has meant the decision has been taken to close all of the homes, which takes effect from December 2016. This decision allows the charity to utilise these assets for the relocation of some of our staff teams to free up capital invested elsewhere in office provision. It also allows us to consider a different use of these buildings, and perhaps utilising them to expand provisions such as our popular and successful Early Years offering.


Community Wessex

The Community Support Service

Community Support Service comprises supported living and domiciliary care service to (currently) 297 adults and children.

216 The Community Support Service provides a high quality service and enjoys a ‘Good’ regulatory status from the Care Quality Commission.

This year we have helped 216 people, many of whom have been accessing our services for years. Robert has been supported by us for eight years and the impact on his life has been transformative.

Robert’s Story ‘My Support Worker is my Superhero’ For most of us a superhero is a benevolent, fictional character with superhuman powers. It is not something we generally associate with real people. But for 32 year old Robert, his Support Worker, Karen Jeans, is without doubt, his real life hero. “It perhaps sounds boy-ish and fantastical to compare a mortal human to a comic superhero character. But for me Karen is a heroic character. She is intent on making this a better place for people. Karen’s commitment to her work and the results she achieves has completely transformed my life. I couldn’t be more grateful for her honourable goals and commitment. I wouldn’t be where I am today withut her.” Robert was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 13, despite his family’s concerns arising soon after Robert’s 2nd birthday. After a ‘disastrous’ time at mainstream school, Robert suffered at the hands of bullies and after a turbulent time at school, he ultimately suffered a complete nervous breakdown. Asperger’s Syndrome is an unseen disability, and this can lead to unfair judgements, negative assumptions and social isolation for those with the condition, and their families.

Our commitment is to provide every single person we support with the framework to identify the opportunities that are available to them, make considered choices about what they want to achieve and work in partnership to successfully achieve those aims.

We provide services to people of all ages in their own homes or for the purpose of accessing a community activity or duty such as work, college or day services. We continue to provide these services across the counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset.

“Following diagnosis life got better,” reflects Robert. “It wasn’t so much that getting a diagnosis changed who I was in any way, but it changed my perspective of why I am the way I am. It gave me a reason for my anxiety, and more than anything, it allowed my family and me to access support and get the help we so desperately needed. Before I started receiving support from Autism Wessex I hadn’t left the house alone for years. The work Karen has done as my Support Worker has, without question, been life changing for me.” Karen met Robert through her role as a Support Worker at Autism Wessex more than five years ago and immediately got to work on setting some personal goals for Robert to achieve. The first of these was going to his local coffee shop and finding somewhere to sit and order his drink. At the time, this filled Robert with anxiety. Karen comments: “Motivation, encouragement, communication and routine are key to assist a service user to lessen their fear of the outside world and turn it from the unknown to the known. Daily challenges need to be overcome and this is where the Support Worker’s role is vital. Service users, by their very nature, need to follow routines. When these routines change, it is the role of the Support Worker to help them adjust to minimise the levels of anxiety. Going out socialising, to the cinema, bowling, swimming, even planning for a holiday can all be scary. With thoughtful conversations and planning between the service user and Support Worker, all of these things can become achievable and really raise self esteem.” In the five years Robert has known Karen he has gone from being too anxious to leave his parent’s home without a companion, to holding down a part-time job, meeting and making friends at a Drop-In group, continued volunteering with Autism Wessex and taking annual holidays abroad to Germany’s Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, the largest model railway in the world. depending on their needs. “I find it amusing that Robert calls me his superhero because actually he is the hero. He has found the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Some heroes don’t have capes and Robert is one of them.” 17

Community Wessex Residential Homes

Community Wessex, Residential Homes comprise:

Higher Ground & Barn Close – residential care service for 8 adults

Barnes Lane & Middle Path - residential care service for 9 adults

Manor Road & Rose Cottage - residential care service for 8 adults Pennyfarthing & Greenways - residential care service for 8 adults

The charity’s well-established programme of developing small scale, high quality residential care homes for adults has continued to provide a very positive quality of experience to a growing number of people. Having invested in additional capacity over previous years, the focus of this financial year was to provide new accommodation for eight adults living in the charity’s very first residential facility and the physical environment of which was considered no longer consistent with our high expectations. This objective was achieved through the acquisition and refurbishment of properties in Crewkerne, Somerset and Sherborne, North Dorset. Four people moved to ‘Barn Close’, Crewkerne, in June 2015 and a further four to ‘Higher Ground’, Sherborne, in May 2016.

“Seventeen years ago people thought autism was a disease you could catch, like leprosy. My son and our family were excluded.”

Tracy, Dom’s Mum

In the next financial year we will look to sell the charity’s very first residential home High Croft and reinvest funds raised. We currently operate eight residential homes and support thirty-three adults in these properties.

Dom’s Story Dom was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. For the past seventeen years he has been accessing the services of Autism Wessex. “This year Dom celebrated his 20th birthday and enjoys a life of contentment in an environment where he is loved and cherished and is an active member of his local community. “Things used to be very different. Seventeen years ago people thought Autism was a disease you could catch – like leprosy – so my son and our family were excluded. “Thankfully we found Autism Wessex and were welcomed into a world that brought us all back to life. The care Dom received at Autism Wessex gave my husband Dan and I, our son back.” Up until the age of two, Dom achieved every developmental milestone. Soon after his second birthday, Dom became withdrawn, but his parents put this down to a family bereavement. Dom had always been less talkative than his older sister but this was not initially concerning. Worried that Dom was still withdrawn after several

weeks, his parents took him to see their Health Visitor. Dom was immediately referred to specialists at the hospital where tests took place at the Child Development Centre. After a visit to the Educational Psychologist Dom was diagnosed with Autism and associated learning difficulties. “At toddler group people thought they could catch autism, so as a family we were excluded. Within the autism specialist environment we found at Autism Wessex the reception could not have been more different. We were welcomed and Dom was nurtured. Over the years Dom has transformed from an unaffectionate, non-verbal, reclusive child to a happy, chatty and extremely loving and affectionate young man. We absolutely credit this turn around to Autism Wessex working alongside ourselves, and the exceptional staff who know and love our son as well as we do.” In October 2014 Dom moved out of the family home and started living at the charity’s residential property ‘Greenways’. “As Dom embarks on his 20th year we are mindful of how lucky we have been to find such an incredible charity, whose staff go above and beyond to make a hugely impressive and positive difference to those of us dealing with autism every day. We are so fortunate to have found a place where the staff love and care for our son as if he was their own.”




We raised £318,470. This income enabled us to fund a number of vital services and resources including;

The Information and Advice service – FREE at the point of delivery

State-of-the-art Interactive Room at Portfield School

Three drop-in groups

Four parent training groups

Josh’s Story Often people have powerful personal stories which move them to raise money for us. Josh was jailed six times before he was diagnosed with Autism. People with Autism can end up in the prison system just like anyone else. In fact, people with learning difficulties, and with autism, are hugely over-represented in the criminal justice system.

It took Josh entering the criminal justice system for assault and criminal damages, before his continued interaction with the probation service led to him being sent for assessment. Josh was seen by the probation service for most of his teenage years and young adult life. Josh was twenty-six years old when he finally received his diagnosis of Asperger’s. From the age of four, Josh’s mum, Nicola started consulting professionals about Joshua’s behaviour. Again when Josh was eight, Nicola discussed her concerns with his SEN teacher at school. Although this led to Josh being assessed for Asperger’s, he passed the Speech and Language test, and therefore the assessment was not completed and any hope of a diagnosis at this point, was lost. Joshua’s behaviours did not improve. He ran away from school, had violent outbursts and became increasingly isolated and emotionally removed. Nicola comments: “Possibly the darkest day of my life was the day Joshua went to prison for criminal damages. I also had to take out an injunction on


my own son. Our situation had become intolerable. And yet, going to prison was, ironically, the start of a brighter, more positive future. Nicola continues: “Whilst under the probation service Joshua was sent for assessment. I was over the moon that we were finally being heard. Six weeks after assessment we were sent through the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). My son was twenty-six years old. It only confirmed what I had always thought, but because it was official I felt overwhelming relief that Josh would finally get the support he so desperately needed.” Despite never having accessed the services from Autism Wessex, Nicola continues to raise money for the charity having already run the Bournemouth Marathon and the Larmar Tree twenty-miler and the Southampton half marathon. Nicola has many more running events planned in the coming months. All funds raised will go directly to helping Autism Wessex support families affected by Autism, just like Nicola’s.













Central Support Services

Our central support services comprise all those teams who work behind the scenes as our unsung heroes.

Our business support services include;

Human Resources and Practical & Clinical Support Team





Future P lans We are delighted to have been able to demonstrate the impact of Autism Wessex through the real lives we have directly affected. We hope to have demonstrated how very real outcomes have been achieved, from individuals taking those first tentative steps out of the home to achieving major life milestones such as marriage and the creation of new life. Our future plans all include extending the range and reach of our service so we can continue to change lives for the better thanks to our wonderful, dedicated and talented teams.

Information & Communications Technology


Autism Wessex

Unrestricted Funds

Restricted Funds

2016 Total Funds

2015 Total Funds


















Other income





The charity’s long term aims include: • Extending education provision to those up to and including age 25

Total Income





• Expanding education provision at Portfield School

Raising funds





• Expanding the number of adults to whom we provide housing, support and care

Charitable activities

















Loss on revaluation of freehold property





Net movement in funds for the year





Total funds brought forward





Total funds carried forward





Income Donations Charitable activities


• Extending the range and reach of our advocacy services.

Exceptional item: derivative review

Short term objectives include: • Increasing the number of local day students attending Portfield School

Total Expenditure

• Undertaking a feasibility study into the provision of education services to age 25 • Securing greater robustness in the operation of the Community Support Service and in its financial performance

Facilities & Procurement

Statement of Financial Activities

• Reviewing future strategy reprovision of adult social care and housing and implications of apparent shift away from residential care • Review of HR strategy to ensure future growth is sustainable • Securing more robust internal systems and controls.

Net Income

Net income

Reconciliation of funds

This statement of financial activities includes all gains and losses recognised in the year. For full information on the charity’s financial position, please see the Trustees’ Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 March 2016.


The eight people who were living in Broadwindsor now have a much improved quality of environment and experience. Suffice to say, they rather like it. Despite the popularity of this small-scale residential care model of supported housing, the concept of residential care is not currently favoured by purchasing local authorities and which, in turn, causes us to review how we provide such services in future. The concept of ‘supported living’ where people have their own housing which is entirely separate from the organisation from whom they receive their support is very much the preferred approach. Our community support service is well-positioned to support this and, indeed, currently provides in the region of 3,500 hours per week of such support. Subject to people being able to access appropriate housing, we will continue to have an active role in supporting more adults in the future.

We continue to be proud of our information, advice and wider advocacy services which we provide ‘free’ at the point of delivery and support through voluntary giving. Our drop in groups for adults, parent training programmes, information and advice service and many other activities which plug gaps in statutory provision continue to be well-received and highly valued. Behind the scenes, of course, are our fundraising, finance, HR, marketing, facilities, IT teams and our voluntary board of trustees who provide the necessary support and internal services to keep the show on the road. None of our front-line activity would take place without them. Bob Lowndes, CEO

Chair of Trustees’ Report The work of Autism Wessex has continued to grow and develop in 2015/16 with an increased number of people with autism and their families and carers benefiting from the range of services we offer through our Information and Advice Service, Adult Residential Care, Supported Living and Portfield School.

Chief Executive’s Report Reflecting on the year we can continue to be proud of the generally high quality services we provide to a growing number of people whose lives are affected by autism, learning disability or associated mental health challenges. The improving quality of education at Portfield School was acknowledged with a ‘Good’ Ofsted judgement and all our social care services continue to be regarded in a similar, positive manner by their regulator – CQC. For a long time and in common with other ‘independent’ schools, Portfield has historically been seen as something of a last resort to local authorities where their own maintained schools have not been able to meet the needs of a young person – this reflected in young people often coming

from far afield and requiring residential schooling. It is particularly satisfying, therefore, to see that many more young people from our local community are being referred to Portfield for day schooling which is much more consistent with our aspirations as a local charity and also creates a broader and healthier school community. The charity’s original adult residential care service in the village of Broadwindsor, west Dorset, had become out-dated and inconsistent with the quality of service we now aspire to and as reflected in our more recent developments. A significant milestone during the year was therefore to have commissioned two, new, community-based houses in Crewkerne and Sherborne and to close the Broadwindsor home.

With the changing wider environment it has been a challenging year in some areas, meanwhile the staff have continued to show dedication and a professional approach and a drive for excellence led by the Senior Leadership Team and the Chief Executive.

I would also like to thank the many individuals and corporate organisations who support our work throughout the year by giving funds and whose generosity plays a major part in the developing of our services. As a charity we remain committed to improving the lives of those with autism and supporting parents and carers in the area. We look forward to the challenges ahead with optimism. Mary Claire Boyd, Chair of Trustees

I would like to thank on behalf of the Board all those involved in the work of Autism Wessex for this approach together with the energy and inspiration they give on a daily basis. I would like to thank my fellow Trustees for their constant support and guidance of the organisation. Together with the Trustees I would like to pay tribute to all the staff for their continued energy, dedication and professionalism throughout and also to the growing number of volunteers who freely give of their time and energy.


Thank You We would like to thank Andy Gill for writing the introduction to this Annual Review from a service user’s perspective. Thank you Andy for allowing us to share your story. As someone who has come so far in life from where he was eight years ago Andy’s story goes a long way to demonstrating the impact we have as a charity. Thanks to everyone who allowed us to share their stories on these pages: Josh and Nicola Oxborough Dom and Tracy Randell-Snow Robert Ward Amy Roach Jake Amor The ‘Green’ Family. Thanks to all our corporate sponsors including; Big Lottery Fund Basepoint Business Centre, Bournemouth Williams Thompson Solicitors LLP Bank of New York Mellon Abbey Life South West Trains Castlepoint Shopping Park J.P. Morgan Liverpool Victoria Nationwide. And to all our dedicated Trustees; Mary Claire Boyd (Chair) Joan Dampney Chris Page Paul Kemp (Treasurer) Paul McGee Tracy Randall-Snow (Vice-Chair) Richard Purvis Bob Gilbertson Trish Jubb Mike Lofthouse – resigned 4.5.16


Get in Touch T 01202 483360 E W Bargates Court, 22 Bargates, Christchurch, Dorset BH23 1QL Registered Charity No. 1000792

Our Services Autism Wessex (Information, Advice and Support Services) Community Wessex (Social Care Services) Portfield School (Education Services)

Annual Review 2016 - Making a Difference  

Autism Wessex Annual Review

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