AN autism charity has launched a new family support service with the help of the Echo’s Do a Lotto Good campaign.
The North East Autism Society (NEAS) set up the free Befriending Service in Sunderland after it was awarded £23,625.
The group, based in Chester-le-Street, was one of 14 charities and community projects to win a share of £250,000, handed out as part of the drive.
Last year, Echo joined forces with the Big Lottery Fund to offer grants of between £10,000 and £30,000 to not-for-profit organisations, parish and town councils, health bodies and schools, with readers asked to vote on a shortlist.
The new NEAS service will give youngsters the chance to “buddy up” with a volunteer, who will accompany them on outings and excursions.
Jill Early, registered home manager at NEAS, said the service is a great way for youngsters with autism to socialise and gain confidence.
Seventeen-year-old Nathan Humble, from Sunderland, is one of those to benefit from the programme.
Jill said: “Nathan’s family were very isolated and his mam found it really hard to take him on trips, especially with his younger brothers and sisters who felt uncomfortable when his behaviour was challenging, through no fault of his own.
“This put enormous pressure on both Nathan and all the family.
“The befriending scheme will make a significance difference to Nathan’s life and the life of other young people struggling to cope with outside home activities.”
For more information about the Befriending Service, call 410 9974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ne-as.org.uk/befriending.