A new year has crept up on us, where does the time go! I can hardly believe that Autism Matters is almost 10 years old.
A new year is often a good time to look forward and back. So I would like to take you on a journey through time.
In February 2012 I had a note book, and a one page business plan in my hands. I walked through the job centre doors to sign on for the final time, after a 6 week stint of unemployment, following my redundancy.
It was a freezing cold day and my hands bright red matched the colour of my face, embarrassed about having to claim benefits.
My initial plan to escape the humiliation of redundancy was to disappear, but my heart was telling me to keep going, learn from my mistakes and create something new. So I pitched my ideas to the job coach, and got a positive response. Armed with my ideas, I set in motion a plan to create a new venture, where all my skills and passion would be concentrated on delivering something I could be proud of.
My husband was my best supporter, and encouraged me to take the leap. I registered with companies house on 5th February, and Autism Matters was born. Together Phil and I delivered the first ever Autism Matters social group, with only 3 members. Word got out, and we attracted more members, we had a handful who got involved right from the start and believed in us.
Four months later Lynne joined us and we had a staff team! Lynne took on the tasks of organising everything, and the greatest duo ever, was created!
Together Lynne and I worked tirelessly to build a provision that Autistic adults actually wanted. We listened, made mistakes, took second jobs to fund it, and never stopped believing in what we were doing.
Slowly we increased in size, and hours, with quality in everything we delivered, top of the agenda. We added new services, and built them to be exactly what was needed, because we NEVER stopped listening and including Autistic adults in everything we did.
So today on another freezing cold winters day, my fingers and face a pale peach tone, I am in a good place. I do not feel the shame of redundancy, or scold myself for making mistakes. I am proud of those mistakes, because look what we created. Born from failure, mistakes and shame, a charity that provides so much for so many. With 31 staff (and counting), 6 volunteers and over 100 members have been through our services.
Now in 2022, Lynne and I are still as driven as ever. I was diagnosed Autistic and ADHD in 2021, which has explained my passion and drive, and gives me an authentic powerful position in an industry which is constantly evolving.
We stay authentic and true, advocate for Autistic acceptance, and have a marvellous time doing so.