Lisburn woman Dr Claire Hughes, Chairperson for Autism NI’s Lisburn Branch has praised the charity after it won the Lloyds Bank Foundation Championing Change Award.
The Northern Ireland charity successfully campaigned for legislation to improve the lives of thousands of local people with autism and their families.
Autism NI was presented with its award at Banking Hall, the historic London Headquarters of Lloyds Bank, in London as part of the first ever Charity Achievement awards organised by the Foundation to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Dr Hughes, said: “I am pleased that Autism NI has been recognised by the Lloyds Bank Foundation for their great achievements in getting the Autism Act (NI) 2011.
“Parents, volunteers and staff members all worked as a team to make those in government sit up and take notice of the changes that needed to be made for the Autism community. The introduction of the Act provides a better future for my two children and for the 30,000 families affected by this disability in Northern Ireland.
“I’m proud to have been a part of this landmark decision in Northern Ireland as the Act is the most comprehensive piece of single disability in Europe.”
Autism NI spent years campaigning to bring in legal recognition of the condition that culminated in the Autism Act (NI) 2011.
Kerry Boyd, Director of Development at Autism NI said: “I’m delighted that Autism NI has won the ‘Championing Change’ award that recognises our achievements of influencing public policy with the introduction of the Autism Act (2011).
“It was a long hard struggle to make politicians and decision makers understand the need for change but we kept going because we knew that this leg was crucial to providing access to better Autism services.
“Lloyds Bank Foundation has supported us over the past 20 years by providing funding for our Family Support and Training departments, and for that alone we are grateful to them.
“By winning this award for ‘Championing Change’, this will undoubtedly provide us with the platform we need to continue to raise awareness for this very misunderstood disability throughout Northern Ireland.”
Autism is one of the most common developmental disabilities in Northern Ireland with approximately 30,000 individuals affected. According to figures from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, there has been a 67% increase in school age children diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder.