Stuart McMillan with Michael Matheson & Councillor Math Campbell-Sturgess, with the staff of REACH for Autism
Today is Autism Awareness Day. I’ve hinted before at how much of my life is linked to the Autistic Spectrum: one of those links is Inverclyde’s own REACH for Autism.
REACH is a centre for supporting individuals on the Autistic Spectrum, their parents, and families. Prior to its foundation, the 1,000 or so individuals on the spectrum in Inverclyde would have to go all the way to Glasgow to receive vital support and services – and given the nature of the condition, that can be extremely difficult for them. As someone who is very involved with the Autistic Spectrum, I was very interested in the project since its early days: back when it started as a series of videos to raise awareness, to the search for premises, to planning all the rooms and facilities. REACH now supports over 50 Inverclyde families on a regular basis, and I couldn’t be prouder of what Vicki, Maureen, Margaret, and the team have achieved over the past four years.
Stuart McMillan was supportive every step of the way, inquiring with the Scottish government for support, looking to see what could be done to help REACH out:
We are delighted that Stuart McMillan MSP lodged a motion of support today at Scottish parliament for other members of parliament to sign regarding the funding we have just been awarded from Scottish Government through the Better Breaks Scotland Fund
By doing so he has helped raise awareness of REACH for Autism to other Scottish Ministers which in turn raises awareness of autism.
Mr McMillan has been incredibly supportive of REACH for Autism since the very beginning and we are incredibly grateful to him!
Since then, my pride has only grown. At the 2015 SNP conference in Aberdeen, Mark McDonald brought a motion calling for the Scottish government to look into how the Scottish justice system could better understand and respond to people on the Autistic spectrum. It was, according to the National Autistic Society, the first time a stand-alone motion dedicated to Autism had been tabled at any party conference. It was passed unanimously.
(Start at 25:50)
I was one of the delegates for that conference, and I can’t tell you what an amazing experience it was. Here I was, one of thousands of delegates, actively affecting party policy for the governing party of Scotland – and it was about something that has been very dear to me for many years. I felt like I was truly making a difference, as I and thousands more signalled our assent by applause. This was why I joined the SNP – to make active, meaningful changes for the better in our wonderful country.
When the Scottish Cabinet came to Greenock, individuals on the spectrum from REACH actually questioned the Cabinet themselves – a truly amazing display of confidence that does not come easily to those on the spectrum. The Cabinet were extremely accommodating, and even invited REACH to Parliament to discuss what the Scottish government could do for those with Autism in more detail.
Magic Moment for REACH for Change our fabulous youth group!!
They’ve just been invited to deliver their unique style of training to the highest level of the Scottish Government (and there’s 400 witnesses to prove it 😄). Our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave them a personal invite to train her and the cabinet on autism at Holyrood. How amazing is that?!!!
An incredible event tonight in the town hall. So delighted to be a part of it!
A huge thank you to the team from Scottish Govt for taking such good care of us tonight 😄
Autism awareness is growing and growing. At the most recent SNP conference in Glasgow, we had our first ever speaker with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome; REACH is going from strength to strength; and I know that as long as the SNP are in Holyrood, we will have people like Michael Matheson, Mark McDonald, and of course Stuart McMillan lending all the support they can give.
MSP and Councillor Welcome Minister for Children and Young People to REACH in
SNP MSP Stuart McMillan and Councillor Math Campbell Sturgess welcomed Fiona McLeod MSP, Minister for Children and Young people to the REACH for Autism Project in Greenock. Ms McLeod was keen to hear about the project, undertook a tour of the facility and spent time with some of the service users and their families.
REACH was founded in 2012 as a Social Enterprise to help bridge the gap in services for people who have been diagnosed with autism in the Inverclyde area and now provides services for all ages and their families.
Welcoming the Minister the Greenock based MSP said:
“I was delighted that Fiona came back to Inverclyde after being here only a few weeks ago. As well as her ministerial capacity, I know she has an interest in Autism related issues and was grateful to her for taking time to visit REACH to see and hear for herself the great work that they do.
“In only three years, REACH have become well respected in Inverclyde and they make a great difference to the individuals with Autism and families who have a member with Autism.
“I cannot praise Vicki and the team enough for their outstanding efforts and I know the Minister has taken away a number of issues to consider.”
Stuart’s fundraiser (ends tonight at 21:39!)