Funding will help support autism services

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Families with Autuism Coming Together for Support (FACTS) has received £9,632 funding from Big Lottery Fund, to support its Autism In Mid Ulster (AIM-U), a local family support and activity group for children with autism and their supporters.

FACTS was founded in the summer of 2017, and received charitable status in August last year.

It was born out of a need to help support families in the district with children on the autism spectrum.

The Mid Ulster people are known for their generosity and a lot of the fundraising for the area was going to other areas and local people were not benefiting.

A few parents got together to establish their own local autism group. To find help for their autistic children, share experiences and provide mutual support. Today the charity has 140 members, 18 volunteers, has provided four free outings attended more than 200 families, have held 22 monthly peer to peer meetings, 10 awareness sessions.

The donation from Big Lottery fund will be used to support the charity’s AIM-U social skills programmes for 8-12 years old children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions.

It aims to provide a place where the whole family can enjoy social educational activities in a safe environment, it’s a place where parents can relax and feel supported. 

Tommy Doherty, Chairman of FACTS said: “The need for our social skills project was originally identified by our members who said they were desperate for their children to have additional support in the local area.

“The development of a child’s social skills can be life enhancing, not just for the child but the whole family.”

Mary Margaret Love, Honorary President and long-time community fund raiser, said: “We’ve had a very successful year of fundraising, we can’t thank the generosity of the Mid-Ulster people enough. It’s important that the local community see this reflected on the ground in the services we provide.

“We faced an incredibly tough decision last year but have not looked back since we first were established.

“Local people want local solutions, they want to share with others who understand and can empathise with the challenges of raising a child(s) on the autism spectrum.

“The work that FACTS does is vital for families in the Mid-Ulster community, enabling parents and carers to better support their autistic children, as well as their other children, and accessing a critical support network for themselves.”