Cheshire Autism Practical Support

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Cheshire Autism Practical Support's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Cheshire Autism Practical Support is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director, Jo Garner
Togetherness in the
Cheshire Autism Practical Support Ltd started as a parent
support group in 2010 and has since developed into
a comprehensive support network for the parents and
families of people on the autism spectrum. Managing Director
Jo Garner established the group because of the lack of support
she received when she was raising her own son. Their goal is to
inspire families to achieve more through a range of collaborative
activities and services across the region.
What started as a parent support group, eight years ago, very quickly became
a practical support group that is now managing over 80 activities every month
across Cheshire. The passion and drive in the charity comes from ensuring
that children and parents have somewhere they feel accepted and helped,
We achieved registered charity status in December 2010, and we began launching
support meetings and new activities in the following year. In 2011 we were able to
host our first annual conference. By 2013, we employed our first full-time member
of staff and I was able to start working full time as managing director later that
year. As part of a collaboration with the University of Chester, we underwent a
rebrand that was assisted by 60 design students. This has been an important part
of our development and we now have a recognisable identity that we arevery
proud of.
In 2014, we moved into our offices in Frodsham and this acted as a further
springboard for our success. We launched a new website and expanded the
geographical coverage as a result, and this has been supported by further funding
»Managing Director: Jo Garner
»Founded in 2010
»Based in Runcorn, Cheshire
»No. of employees: 23, with 30
»Services: Activities, support,
training, advocacy,
counselling, mindfulness and
attention card
Cheshire Autism
Practical Support
Highlighting best practice
opportunities including Big Lottery.
Continuing to support as many people
as possible has always remained our
primary aim, and in 2017 we opened
a training centre in Northwich. We are
so proud of our success and I am very
excited to continue it into the future.
Our work
We are a charity that supports families
who have a dependant on the autism
spectrum, whether diagnosed or not.
We constantly evaluate all of our
services to guarantee that we deliver
fun and useful activities. To ensure that
we can offer the best possible service,
we provide:
»Activities that include family
swimming, multisports, anti-gravity
yoga, animal therapy, horse riding,
dog training, gardening, yoga, gym
with games, family Pilates, swimming
lessons, crafty clubs, kidz clubs,
youth clubs, circus skills, Spectrum
Connect for adults, trampolining
»Parental training courses
»Intensive social skills classes for
»The Club, our specialised
socialisation group for children,
which meets weekly in Northwich
»Counselling for older children, adults
on the spectrum and parents
»Independence and living skills for
adults on the spectrum – two courses
»Mindfulness for parents; “The Best
Gift is YOU” intensive course
»Autism awareness assemblies in
schools – reaching over 15,000
children already
»Mindfulness for children in small
groups of six
»Play therapy and Lego therapy at three
venues and intensive group work
»Professional autism training
»Attention Card and Autism Code
Keyring in partnership with Cheshire
and Merseyside Police
»Holiday club providing 800 hours of
fun over four Wednesdays in August
»This summer we had our first ever
residential – 16 families for three
nights camping in Wales
»In the last year we have provided
1,758 hours of activities, accessed by
nearly 2,000 people.
Holiday club Kidz Club, Chester
Our lives are so
much greater,
and so much
richer for
having ChAPS,
travelling with
us on this
ride of an
autism journey
Standing up for people with
Our ethos has always been working
positively and proactively with a
range of organisations, charities, local
authorities and funders. We would
not be where we are today without
taking such a collective effort. Our
collaborative approach to working has
been highly commended by a number
of partner organisations, and we have
been able to strike a delicate balance
between sourcing funding, expanding
services and ensuring oursustainability.
Unfortunately, there is a huge gap in
the provision of mental health services,
occupational health, paediatricians,
social workers, speech and language
therapists and specialist knowledge
between the local authorities and
clinical commissioning groups. We
have been extremely lucky to have
been privately funded for the majority
of our services, but we are working
against a culture of cuts to disabled
services. More needs to be done
by local and central government to
support autism, which is the fastest
growing disability in the world,
yet it pales into insignificance with
national spends on research into and
interventions on other disabilities.
We fill this gap as best we can, and
our families are less likely to refer into
specialist services because they are
given the coping skills and the specific
autism knowledge that helps their
child achieve. The majority of our staff
are parents of children or adults who
have autism or additional needs, so we
understand the difficulties.
One of the most challenging systems
we have is schooling for children with
autism. Virtually all of our families
have struggled to receive support
from the education system, as many
of our children conform in the
school setting, and then experience
meltdown at home where they feel
secure. We know that ten per cent of
our families educate their children at
home, either as a result of inadequate
provision or repeated exclusions in the
All children and adults on the
spectrum need to live in the real world.
We give them the skillset to gain
qualifications, and as the awareness of
autism increases, we hope employers
will recognise the talent, attention
to detail and dedication of these
I would be so
lost without
the incredible
support of
ChAPS – they
have been an
absolute life
saver for us
My 15-year-old neurotypical daughter and my nine-year-old ASC son have
never got on. Last night, however, I got them both to play Junior Monopoly
with me and my husband. There were a few small disagreements but nothing
major. Even when K lost the game, he didn’t kick off; I just got the Scrabble
out and they stayed sitting at the table playing next to eachother.
Then, this morning C let K in her room to help feed her hamster; this never
happens. They spent 15 whole minutes giggling together; it was beautiful to
hear. Over the years we’ve tried different strategies to help them bond without
success, due to K’s violence and not listening. I put this improvement down to
K attending the ChAPS activities. Thank you so much to all who work with K
and help us teach him social skills. Long may his progress continue, hopefully
making our house a happy and friendly home full of kindness and laughter. I
hope other families get to enjoy the positive outcome of being with ChAPS, as
Raft building

This article was sponsored by Cheshire Autism Practical Support. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy