Autism project saved - for now

PEOPLE in Suffolk have rallied round and saved an organisation for autistic children that was threatened with closure on the eve of its one-year anniversary.

PEOPLE in Suffolk have rallied round and saved an organisation for autistic children that was threatened with closure on the eve of its one-year anniversary.

The Suffolk Autism Project received official confirmation from its grant provider - the Suffolk Children's Fund - that funding for the project would continue for the next six months.

However the money available for the scheme, which cares for children with autism and their families, will still be slashed by 15%.

Last month, the project faced the axe after regional and central Government funding cuts and appealed to the local community for support.

Despite not knowing their future, project workers continued their commitment to families in the county providing advice, support, information and training on autism.

In return, people made donations, contacted their MPs and wrote messages of support. AXA Insurance in Ipswich and the Clare Flower Club also financially backed the project.

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Six MPs lobbied on behalf of the scheme, including David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, and Bob Blizzard, MP for Waveney, who have signed the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism manifesto.

Lindsay Towns, The National Autistic Society's (NAS) development officer for the project, said: "On behalf of the NAS Suffolk project I would like to thank the local community for their time, efforts and generosity, and encourage further support to ensure this much needed project continues."

The project will now concentrate its efforts on finding an alternative source of funding to fill the 15% gap, which covers the cost of one project worker.

It will also need to look elsewhere for full funding from October to secure its future.

To find out more about supporting the project call 01394 383855.

nMental health provision in Suffolk has been praised for the way it involves people using the services in a report released today .

The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) published the document following a routine inspection of mental health and learning disability services throughout Suffolk.

The Local Health Partnerships NHS Trust has involved people using the services in a range of decisions, including staff appointments and changes to services, according to the report.

However, it did raise concerns about the dirty and unsafe accommodation in some parts of the trust as well as aspects of working for the organisation, such as the training of staff.

CHI acting chief executive Jocelyn Cornwell said: "Local Health Partnerships NHS Trust has undergone a lot of change in the last 18 months and is implementing new structures and processes to ensure services users receive good quality care."

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