• Kate talks about achieving our key Autism at Kingwood mission objectives during lockdown

    Kate Allen Chief Executive

     

    A big, big thank you to 139 of our staff who have so far had their first vaccination; a thank you that we are demonstrating by sending out a £50 Amazon voucher this week to each member of staff who has taken this extra step. The commitment our staff have shown to taking the safety of each other seriously has enabled us again to have another week with no new cases of Covid amongst staff or people we support.

    The focus on keeping people safe over the last year has seen us focus on three of our five key objectives in our mission to “Enable each person we support to develop greater independence, discover their potential and enjoy a better quality of life”.

    We have been determined to provide Expert Support, responding to guidance and direction from Public Health England and the Government, whilst focusing foremost on providing essential support, no matter what.  Underpinning all that we do, we have to keep to a focus on being Financially Fit. This was particularly hard for the first half of the financial year, but efficiencies, seeking cost savings wherever possible and tight financial controls, alongside help from some local authorities providing Covid relief and infection control payments has helped considerably. We have given up some of our office space in Didcot; not recruited to some infrastructure positions as they became vacant and worked hard to recover outstanding aged debts and improve invoicing processes. Although disappointingly we have been informed there will be no cost of living uplift from 2 local authorities (with 3 more yet to confirm), careful budgeting has enabled us to provide a much deserved 2% salary increase to employees from the 1st April 2021.  Our BetterPay4SocialCare campaign will continue to call for greater funding from central government to local authorities.

    And our third objective, Reputation and Reach, has been vital as relatives relied heavily upon our reputation and history to give them reassurance during what has frankly been a scary time for many. There has been some comfort in the knowledge that familiar faces have been involved in caring for autistic people during such uncertainty.

    However, as we approach the beginning of World Autism Awareness Week I realise putting all our efforts into successfully achieving the above, has, understandably, meant we haven’t been able to Inform & Influence as much as we would have in previous years and of course Opportunities have been restricted for many. However, next week gives each one of us the opportunity to make a difference.

    Online events and activities are taking place both to raise funds and awareness and most importantly autism acceptance. We will be sharing increased facts, guidance, information and signposts on our social media next week – please share them on and helps us spread the word.  There is a long way for us to go before we can say we live in a world that ‘embraces autism’ but the efforts we have all been making year after year is making some progress and improvements. I don’t know the statistics, but I feel I can confidently say more people know what autism is; how it can affect people and how we can make adjustments to help autistic people.

    We have organised a virtual Everest Base Camp trek to raise funds with some staff signing up to walk 110km, albeit not in the Himalaya mountain range of Nepal! There is more information in the weekly update if you wish to virtually join the walking challenge. Instead, if you wish to support anyone of us taking part, please find our Total Giving Pages: Sponsor Agueda, Sponsor Philippa, Sponsor Kate.

    Best wishes to you all.

    Kate.

    Abi Cowley

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