To launch the strategy, autistic people and their families attended Manchester Central to hear about the strategy and plans for delivering it across the region. They were also invited to continue shaping the strategy and its projects in the future.
The strategy sets out four key areas for improvement; making sure public services are accessible, placing autistic people at the heart of our communities, improving health and care so autistic people stay healthy and receive the support they need and improving employment opportunities as well as the transition to adult services for young people.
The strategy also includes an important vision to make sure public services and facilities across Greater Manchester are autism friendly. One example of public services making reasonable adjustments for autistic people are the Greater Manchester libraries who are working, with the Arts Council and Heritage Fund, to create a network of autism champions and make improvements so the library is a pleasant experience for those who experience sensory differences.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:
“Although some progress has been made in recent years, too many autistic people and their families are not receiving the support they need. We want to change that in Greater Manchester.
“This strategy has been developed in partnership with autistic people, their families and practitioners, with the aim of making Greater Manchester an autism friendly city-region.
“Although diagnosis and post-diagnostic support is vital, this is not just a health and social care issue – it’s also about improving access to services, to employment, transport and more. Through this strategy we will deliver a city-region-wide strategy that embraces the needs of autistic people and supports everyone to reach their full potential.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, which runs the Greater Manchester Autism Consortium, says,
“We are delighted to see Greater Manchester leading the way by launching the first ever regional strategy approach to making its community autism-friendly, with the support of the Mayor, Andy Burnham.
“Since the ground-breaking Autism Act in 2009, we have seen some progress improving and increasing support and services for autistic adults across England. But it hasn’t been enough, far too many autistic people and families continue to miss out on support and end up struggling and becoming extremely isolated.
“We need authorities to come together and think differently about how they can create a society that works for autistic people. Greater Manchester is taking the first step towards this new way of working, building on considerable insight from autistic people and families who have been working with the Greater Manchester Autism Consortium over the last two years.
“I thank the Mayor for his continued commitment to improving the lives of autistic people and their families and look forward to working together to achieve an autism-friendly Greater Manchester.”