New Forest autism charity Positive Path Foundation plans to take fight for funding to Number 10 Downing Street
A NEW Forest autism charity is demanding government help after being inundated with requests for aid – one from as far away as Scotland.
Jane Atkinson, who set up Positive Path Foundation, says the system for helping autistic youngsters to get education, social and healthcare services is “totally broken”.
She says her charity has been “completely overwhelmed” by desperate families pleading for help, adding: “I have been totally flooded with calls from parents who simply cannot get help at all, or face a wait of years.
“I even had a family in Scotland asking if I could help them.
“The authorities and organisations that should be supporting these families are not equipped or resourced to deal adequately with autism.”
But Jane says she is struggling with resourcing herself unlike the local authorities, schools, GPs, social prescribers, and mental health services that are now referring youngsters direct to her charity.
She said: “To be honest I am at the end of my tether with it all. I am a small charity trying to help as much as possible, but no one will fund us.
“Everyone who can refer to us is doing so, and that just seems so unfair. I need more staff to cope with demand.”
The charity helps people over the age of 16 with learning difficulties and physical challengers find friends, socialise and gain life skills through events and workshops.
It costs at least £30,000 to run, although Jane, an autism therapist, says if she were able to have double that figure, her charity would be able to “do much more”.
She now intends to launch a petition calling for her charity to be given financial aid and says she will take the results to Number 10.
She said: “The charity provides a lifeline of support for our 90-plus members and their families that is missing both locally and nationally.”
“Most families don’t have the energy to fight any more, and I am prepared to take this to Downing Street.
“We are bombarded with demand, yet we are wasting valuable time and effort fundraising: trying to secure piecemeal the consistent financial support we need.”
“Ironically many referrals come directly from the system that is funded to provide support but can’t do so.”
Jane says the mental health service is also failing autistic youngsters saying it is “broken and under-resourced” adding: “The burden of failures elsewhere falls on mental health services which in turn cannot cope with the demand.
“The detrimental effect of this widening gap in provision on the mental health of young people with autism is the reason for the large number of referrals to us.”
BCP Council said it could not offer the charity funding as it is based in Sway, outside its area.
But Jane questions this as she claimed the charity is on BCP Council’s list of approved providers and most of its members live within the conurbation.
A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “We cannot comment on individual grant applications or requests for funding. However, more generally, all grant applications that are received are rigorously assessed against the clear criteria which is set out for those that apply.”