To support people in the autistic community achieve financial independence and develop the skills needed to make positive choices.
by Sarah Southernwood in Great Yarmouth, England, United Kingdom
Sunbeams supports children, young people and adults with autism as well as other related conditions such as ADHD, Dyspraxia, anxiety and mental health. Sunbeams also supports young carer's (siblings), parents, carers and professionals in the local community. We do this by providing respite sessions, dedicated one to one key workers, trips and activities planned to support the development of life and social skills which will help support a level of independence once adulthood is reached. Sunbeams also offers training, parent support groups, advocacy and free access to our contracted psychotherapist.
One of the groups that Sunbeams support is the Late Diagnosis Group. This group was started in September 2022 and has grown in numbers. There is very limited support out in the community for anyone with autism over the age of 25 and the people that use our service have shared that we are the only service they can find locally.
It is paramount that we nurture our late diagnosis members and support them however we can, encouraging them to lead independent lives where they can make their own choices about their futures.
One of the areas that Sunbeams identified as needing a targeted approach was financial sustainability. A large number of the people that attend the Late Diagnosis Group struggle to find work and whereas Sunbeams have been supporting with work skills, work experience and interview techniques it is still very challenging for them to find permanent employment. Many rely on benefits. With the ever increasing cost of living there are many people both within and outside of the autistic community that are struggling to make ends meet.
To support older people with a diagnosis of autism or who are suspected of having autism but have not yet been diagnosed, Sunbeams would like to provide a variety of opportunities to build on their financial resilience.
Sunbeams will be providing financial wellbeing workshops and provide each member with a financial resilience kit that will include a variety of tools such as a diary, finance planner, calendar, etc. Members will be loaned laptops to be able to take part in the workshops and to assist their learning. Attendees that have attended all the workshops and fully participated in the activities offered will either be able to keep the laptops they've been using on a long term basis, or be gifted them to help encourage the use of their new learning. It is anticipated that participants who finish the project will have a vastly improved understanding of their finances and how to make plans for their futures. They will be able to make informed decisions about their own futures and be able to save for something special.