SuperSONIC is for young people with Autism or Down's Syndrome providing them with a club night at their own pace with organised activities (and sometimes outings). In 2019/20 we ran 46 clubs or trips with 491 attendances of young people with additional needs.
Overall this year has been very exciting; blending groups, bringing back the older cohort and starting afresh in Alton fulfilling a much needed gap in provision in another area of East Hants. Consequently our numbers have increased significantly. Our clubs for young people with Autism or Down's Syndrome are called SuperSONICs (for ages 12-17 years) and KingPINS (for ages 18 years+). These groups continue to be valued, not only for the safe, social aspect of the young people, but also for providing respite for other family members from their caring duties, some of whom are our Young Carers. To be able to make this happen, we have created groups where routine and safety come first, so the Young People feel happy to come to us.
We are now running three groups, having the opportunity to provide a club in Alton as well as in Petersfield; this allows us to fill a gap in provision as well as extending our bases in a large county, where transport links are an issue. The new Alton SuperSONIC group began in December 2019 having been advertised through Alton schools and also by word of mouth. Although there have been many challenges in setting up a new group from scratch, we have seen the young people develop and grow whilst playing games, doing craft, engaging in confidence building tasks, taking an active role in the group, listening to one-another and sharing their own thoughts and interests. In the beginning there was nervousness and anxiety but as the weeks progressed, friendships blossomed alongside their sense of belonging and
confidence in being themselves. One young person said:
At SuperSONICs I don't feel like I have to
put on a front.
Parents from both Petersfield and Alton have been really appreciative of our SuperSONIC/KingPINS groups as in the past they have found it difficult to find opportunities with like-minded youths for their young people to socialise with, where they can be independent, have fun and feel like every other teenager.
This year, Mandy continued to oversee the programme for both locations as well as running and attending the Petersfield sessions, with Charlie running the Alton groups; each session feeds back into Three Crowns framework. Other staff changes were able to be covered with current team members.
Unfortunately some of our KingPINS members reached the upper age limit for this group, which meant that from April 2019 our numbers were low leading us to initially run SuperSONICs and KingPINS together in Petersfield. Following further funding, after May half term both groups were run side by side, and we saw an increase in our
numbers again. We are delighted to be able to continue using the original trust fund to support the 18-25 year olds who have been with us since they were all 12 years old. The parents have been thrilled by this opportunity, as the needs of these young people do not disappear because they hit 18.
The King's Arms has also felt the impact of COVID-19 and unfortunately, we had to cancel our face to face clubs from the 16th March 20020 as these young people fall into the vulnerable category with no self-conscious appreciation of hygiene or personal space. We are working hard on plans to be able to continue our work with the young people, we have consulted with parents and the consensus is that perhaps the alternative at the moment is to do something virtually or by sending activities through the post when we can.
G is 14, autistic and has fragile X syndrome
as well as learning difficulties. They have difficulty in
communicating with people and in large groups can be highly anxious. G's parents say, "G was diagnosed as being ASD when they were 5 years old, they have difficulty relating to other people and can get very upset and angry if their routine is changed. They have a very narrow area of interest and can be intensely focused on one thing. This causes us problems
going out as a family and just doing the normal everyday things like shopping. Knowing that G can go to The King's Arms once a week and they are happy and safe there, gives us some respite from caring for G. We usually take the opportunity to spend some quality time with our younger child.
THE FULL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS
Want to know even more detail? Including the Chairman's comment, how we are funded and how we spend that funding?
Our full report and accounts can be downloaded from the Charities Commission website.