The National Autistic Society has 115 volunteer branches set up normally by parents. They are financially independent and have to rely on their own fundraising to generate funds. Each branch does what it can to offer support to autistic people and their families. The Branch is run entirely by volunteers.
In 2006 a group of parents began to meet, who shared concerns over the lack of support, resources, and information about services for themselves and their children. They were joined by others who had been through similar and often more difficult experiences, whose offspring were by then adults.
The group initially ran under the umbrella of Carers Resource in Harrogate before it was decided to become affiliated to the NAS in March 2007 with the formation of the Harrogate and District Branch.
The following year the branch set up the Springboard Youth Group with Danielle Mulholland of Harrogate Borough Council. Springboard is primarily for young people with a diagnosis of autism who attend mainstream schools but remain socially isolated. Springboard is still flourishing.
In 2019 we have been involved in starting a new Girls Group with Danielle and Harrogate Borough Council. This group is for girls primarily who are very socially sensitive and who have strong autistic traits (without necessarily having an autism diagnosis) but who are likely to be school refusers and very isolated. The group prides itself on working with parents to find ways to get the girls to attend.
The Branch has tried to run a number of young people and adult groups. A social group called Aspect ran for a number of years but numbers declined and it has not been running for the last year.
The Branch runs an annual conference which has grown in size year on year attracting national and international speakers. We consider the conference a critical part of our aim to raise autism awareness locally and that there is a real need for autism training and information, not just amongst parents, but also for schools and professionals.
When the NAS holds its national conference in Harrogate we organised a free fringe event with some of the speakers from the main event. These proved very popular and if the NAS decide to return we would welcome the opportunity to put on similar events.
Our last conference in November 2018 on Autism and Eating Disorders was our biggest yet attracting delegates nationally. Our next conference is being run in partnership with York St John University on Autism and Employment and will be held at the University in April 2020.
We ask for a minimum donation to cover costs at a fraction of what it would cost to hear the same speakers at commercially run conferences.
We are also available to do talks or training sessions. We adapt the talks to the needs of the audience and share our experiences and insights.
There was a monthly support group run at Harrogate Carers Resource. This is no longer running and we are now in the process of setting up another support group.
If you would like to join us or if you have any ideas or suggestions please get in touch with us. We are keen to instigate, promote, develop and publicise developments in Harrogate.
VOLUNTEERS, BEING A MEMBER, MEETINGS
The Harrogate and District Branch was set up by a group of parents from the area who shared concerns over lack of support, resources, and information about services for themselves and their children. They were joined by others who had been through similar and often more difficult experiences, whose offspring were by then adults.
The group ran under the umbrella of Carers Resource in Harrogate for about a year before affiliating to the NAS in March 2007. The Branch now includes families affected by both Aspergers and Autism, across a whole range of difficulties, abilities and age ranges.
We plan to continue our campaigning to improve support for children from pre-school through school education, and develop more support for individuals and families affected by Autistic Spectrum Conditions in adulthood.
The Branch is run entirely by volunteers. It receives no funding from the NAS, all activities are funded via fundraising.