• Kate Allen, Autism at Kingwood CE provides our weekly update

    Although over time everything changes and evolves, it is often be helpful to remember the beginning: that original reason that an action was undertaken.

    Our name ‘Kingwood’ was adopted because that first house purchased for Giles Shirley, a young autistic man, was located in Kingwood Common, just outside Reading. Giles’ home and support was arranged by his parents, Steve and Derek, who wanted a life for him outside of the secure hospital that had been deemed by professionals the right place for an autistic young man.

    It was the love for their son and sheer determination that he live a more meaningful and happy life, that gave Giles’ parents the strength and energy to find a suitable home, identify caring people to look after their son and then, with time, identify another young autistic man to share his home with him. This was no small feat. Setting up the charity was a struggle and the early years were tough: in 1994 The Kingwood Trust was officially registered.

    That might have been 27 years ago but that same thread of resilience and determination to offer autistic adults care and support in normal community settings continues to run through Kingwood.

    We are saddened to announce the news that Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley’s husband of 62 years, Derek passed away quietly at home on Saturday, 18th September at the age of 97.

    Derek, co-founded Autism at Kingwood and the legacy has continued with more 1,000 autistic adults benefiting over the years since whether that be support at home, accommodation, advice & guidance, and more recently diagnosis.

    Steve has asked that donations in memory of Derek should benefit Autism at Kingwood and may be made using this link  Alternatively, cheques can be sent to c/o: Tomalin & Son, 38 Reading Road, Henley on Thames, RG9 1AG 9 (Tel: 01491 573370 email: office@tomalins.co.uk

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    At the Charity Commission AGM this week, special recognition and appreciation was given to the resilience of the 169,000 charities (across England and Wales). It was unsurprising, yet still startling, news that 72% were adversely affected through the last year and recent figures have shown sadly that 19% have downsized. It makes me especially proud that we came through it relatively unscathed as evidenced in the Annual Report and Accounts that were approved on Tuesday by our Board of Trustees.  We will be publishing the report very shortly.

    A different report published this week was our Gender Pay Gap Report, also available on our website. It shows that we have a negative gender pay gap meaning that men are not paid higher than women within the organisation, unlike many other businesses inside and outside social care and the third sector. Another reason to be proud that we live the values we speak. Our next piece of work is to take that pay gap analysis further and conduct a similar exercise with Ethnicity Pay Gaps. I will let you know the outcome of that in the future also.

    Finally, I am pleased to report that no new confirmed cases of COVID have been reported this week amongst people we support and staff.

    Best wishes to you.

    Kate.

    Philippa Stannard

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