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Mums Fight To Save Autism Service
A petition has been set up by a Hamilton mum in a bid to stop the closure of a service that helps families cope with autism.
More than 2700 people have backed the bid by Karen Noble to save the Autism One Stop Shop in Motherwell.
Funding is due to switch from the Scottish Government to local authorities and unless North and South Lanarkshire councils commit to the project there are fears that it could close within two months.
Karen, a mum-of-three from Torhead Farm, says the service is a complete lifeline to many who have children with various forms of autism.
Her daughter Amy was diagnosed with autism when she was 11 and says the shop has been “invaluable” to them.
She explained: “The One Stop Shop offers an advice line, drop-in sessions, one-to-one appointments, workshops, support groups and a resource room full of books and information.
“As a parent, when your child is diagnosed you are given two things – a list of books to read and the contact details of the local One Stop Shop.
“With no one to turn to, I phoned them and spoke to an advisor who met with me later that day. They have been the most wonderful support for myself, my daughter and the rest of my family.
“Without them my life would have fallen apart. The One Stop Shop supports the whole of both North and South Lanarkshire. Hundreds of families will be affected by its closure.
“I would urge everyone to sign the petition and not let this service close down.”
The Scottish Government set up the Autism One Stop Shops to offer support and advice to both children and adults with autism as well as their families and professionals. Funding is set to change hands to councils.
Karen says both North and South Lanarkshire councils are not, at present, committing to funding them – which could result in them shutting their doors within weeks.
However, South Lanarkshire Council said they were committed to work in partnership with Lanarkshire One Stop Shop (OSS) to ensure support continues for individuals and families coping with autism.
Michelle McConnachie, adult and older people service manager for the council, said: “The Lanarkshire One Stop Shop was created and funded by the Scottish Government to support the Scottish Strategy for Autism which was launched in 2011. The Scottish Government advised that funding for the OSS would come to an end in March 2016 and requested feedback from the authorities as to the feasibility of the services continuing as part of the delivery mechanism for local autism strategies.
“South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership and the council have offered a commitment to work in partnership with Lanarkshire OSS to ensure that individuals with autism and their families can access support and guidance from within current resources to meet their needs.”
Bobby Miller, head of adult social work services for North Lanarkshire Council, added: “We have received a funding application from Scottish Autism.
“However, the council, together with NHS Lanarkshire, already funds and supports HOPE, a local North Lanarkshire autism organisation, which provides information and support to individuals and their families. We have done this for some years, with excellent outcomes for those affected by the condition.
“Any additional service developments for people with autism will be part of the wider considerations for the Health and Social Care Partnership in North Lanarkshire.
“In the meantime if anyone is worried and needs advice or support to deal with their personal or a family member’s circumstances, they should phone Morris Howat, senior officer, who will try to link with them with the right means of addressing their difficulties. Morris can be contacted directly by emailing email@example.com or by phoning 01698 332662.”
Karen’s petition can be found online at www.change.org/p/karen-noble-save-our-lanarkshire-autism-one-stop-shop.