Autism Bedfordshire (Bedford, )


  • Name:Gill Christmas
  • Title:Mrs

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Autism Bedfordshire
  • Address:Salamander House
    2-10 St. John's Street
    Bedford MK42 0DH
    United Kingdom

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:01234214871

Organization Web

User Email


Click map for a full size active view.


  • Mission:
  • Autism Bedfordshire is an independent charity whose mission is to:-
    - Improve confidence, self-esteem, social and communication skills for children, young people and adults with autism in Bedfordshire
    - Reduce social isolation for people with autism and their families in Bedfordshire, and
    - Improve awareness, knowledge and understanding about autism amongst families, professionals and the wider community.

    We want people with autism to feel as accepted, respected and valued as people who are not on the autistic spectrum and for them and their families to enjoy fulfilled and rewarding lives.

  • Overview:
  • To achieve our mission, Autism Bedfordshire offers information, advice and emotional and practical support through the following services:-
    • Children and Young People’s Services:-
    - Loads of Autistic Fun (L.O.A.F.) - Saturday morning social activity and support groups for children with autism aged 0-12 years, their siblings and their parents/carers. 4 groups run across Bedfordshire, each providing 18 three-hour long sessions per year.
    - ‘Wanted Fun’ - evening social groups for young people aged 10-17 years with high functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome. 4 groups run across Bedfordshire, each providing 18 two-hour long sessions per year.
    - Summer Activity Schemes – 10 week-long schemes based in Bedford and Luton for children with autism aged 3-17 years. Each scheme runs from 9:30am til 3pm Monday to Friday.
    - Sport and leisure activities during term time

    • Adults’ Services:-
    - Skills Project - one day a week modular courses at 3 locations in the county which help adults with autism develop communication, employment, social, independence and life skills.
    - Social Groups - 5 groups meet up every fortnight throughout the year at various venues in the community to develop social networks and improve their social and communication skills.
    - Employment support
    - Directory of adult services.

    • Information, Support and Training:-
    - Helpline service (telephone and e-mail 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, and monthly drop-in sessions)
    - Information packs
    - Library of books, DVDs and other resources
    - Newsletters for members, staff and volunteers
    - Website, Facebook and Twitter
    - Training courses for parents and professionals

    • Advocacy for people with autism amongst the local authorities, voluntary agencies and other local services

  • History:
  • Autism Bedfordshire was founded in 1991 when a few parents got together to find help for their autistic children, share experiences and provide mutual support. They established a charity that began with a telephone helpline and grew into a suite of services that would give people with autism and their families invaluable support over the years to come.

    In response to the stress and exhaustion parents reported during the summer holidays, we introduced our first Summer Activity Scheme in 1995 to provide activities for children with autism and give their parents a much-needed break. Our 2001 membership consultation showed families also wanted to go out together and meet others in a similar situation. In response to this we launched a term-time Saturday morning support/activity group called ‘Loads of Autistic Fun (L.O.A.F.) in 2002 which was for children with autism up to age 12, their siblings and parents. Our 2003 consultation found that parents wanted social activity groups for their teenage children who often felt isolated or depressed and withdrew from society due to ridicule or bullying by their peers. We therefore introduced, in 2004, our fortnightly evening youth clubs (‘Wanted Fun’) for young people with Asperger Syndrome or high functioning autism aged 10 to 17 years. Once a year we ask the children, parents, siblings (if appropriate), staff and volunteers at our groups to complete formal written evaluation questionnaires. Unanimously, we are asked to continue with what we are providing and to increase our provision. Over the years, therefore, we have developed our Summer Activity Programme and we now run five different schemes at two locations; we have opened a further three L.O.A.F. groups and three more Wanted Fun groups. Feedback shows how much our members value these services and how their situation would be a lot worse if they had to stop.

    85% of adults with autism are unemployed, even though many want to work and have skills they could bring to the workplace. In 2007 Autism Bedfordshire opened its Adult Services with an Adult Skills Project – a one day a week course teaching communication, social, employment and independence skills. We followed this up in 2008 with an Adult Social Group. We now have 3 Skills Projects and 5 Social Groups operating across the county. Following the Autism Act 2009, the Government issued statutory guidance for local councils and NHS bodies to deliver services for adults with autism. As the only specialist autism provider in the county, Autism Bedfordshire was invited to be a key participant in developing the Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives Autism Strategies. We were commissioned to run an extensive Autism Awareness Training programme for professionals throughout Bedfordshire and to date have offered places to over 3,000 people. In 2014, thanks to European Social Funding, we were able to pilot a ‘Progress into Education, Training and Employment’ programme. Our Employment Support services is now being funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation and Big Lottery/ESF Building Better Opportunities.

    Autism Bedfordshire is the only voluntary organisation in Bedfordshire that is specialised in supporting children, young people and adults with autism and their families. Over the last 26 years we have built a widespread reputation for offering high quality autism support and have been commissioned to help other areas develop their services for people with autism. We have sustained year-on-year growth, which we have secured funding for despite the challenges of the recent economic climate. Our membership has grown and we currently have around 700 members accessing our services with a further 300+ people contacting us for information and advice.

    Our specialist autism training for staff and volunteers cannot be found elsewhere in the local area. Feedback is always extremely positive and is reflected in our staff retention rate (around 67%). We provide a range of activities at our groups, planned through consultation with our members, which are risk-assessed and tailored to the ages, interests and abilities of the people we support, and all our venues are risk assessed and autism-friendly. Advancements in our monitoring and evaluation have provided evidence of individuals’ progress as a result of using our services, showing improvements in areas such as confidence, self-esteem, communication, social skills and, for some, improved planning, organisational and decision making skills. Our last full stakeholder consultation (2013) highlighted a high level of satisfaction with our services, with most respondents wanting want more of them. Our Board of 6 Trustees meets monthly on a voluntary basis and is a diverse group of people, including 4 parents of children with autism.

  • Year established:1991
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United Kingdom
  • U.K. Charity Commission ID #:1100722