Sunderland autism support group 'devastated' by vandalism gets set for fresh start with new home

A Sunderland voluntary group which supports hundreds of children with autism and their families is now looking forward to the future after finding a new home in the city.

By Sophie Brownson
Sunday, 21 July, 2019, 16:45

Include 'In' Autism provides a safe place for youngsters with additional needs and their families, offering workshops, accredited training and activity groups.

The garden, which provided hours of pleasure for the children, was severely damaged in the attack – with several feet of wood ripped from its fence and equipment, including sensory tents, stolen from a shed, which was wrecked.

Marie Jevon (right) founder and CEO of Include 'In' Autism with volunteers as they take a rest from clearing the grounds of their new premises.

The community was left shocked by the incident, but the group picked itself back up and has now started to move into new premises at Plains Farm Academy on Tudor Grove, to ensure it puts the past behind them.

The group is leasing a building on the site by the school from the Youth Almighty Project, and volunteers from Interserve are now working hard to get it ready for its official opening in August.

Volunteers have cleared the green space around the building to create a new sensory garden and enclosed play space, as well as working on the decor and maintenance of the building itself.

Marie Jevon, the founder and chief executive of the group, said she was left feeling ‘destroyed’ by the vandalism, but said the new site has given the group a huge boost.

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Marie Jevon founder and CEO of Include 'In' Autism.

She said: “The vandalism just destroyed us, but since then we have been overwhelmed by kindness from the community.

“We are moving into a new building which we are renting from the Youth Almighty Project and its project manager Joanne Leverick has been such a huge help to us.

“We started work on the site three weeks ago and the volunteers have been working so hard – we wouldn’t be where we are without them.

“We are now looking forward, not back and are discussing ideas of what we can do in the new space and how we can involve the community.”

The centre before the work to clear the area was started.
Volunteer s from Include 'In' Autism working on clearing the grounds of their new premises.
Volunteers have worked to cut back the overgrown plants at their new base.