Funding helps support group

A support group for families living with autism is expanding to offer sessions in the Bishop Auckland area thanks to funding from one of the north east’s largest housing associations.

Little Treasures offers ‘stay and play’ sessions in community centres across County Durham for families living with autism. The gatherings provide a safe place to relax, play and meet other families.

County Durham Housing Group has provided £500 through its community funding programme ‘group grant’ to help bring sessions to Bishop Auckland.

Already 15 families have expressed an interest in taking part at West Auckland Memorial Hall. The sessions are designed to reduce social isolation for everyone in families affected as well as providing facilities for young autistic people.

The ‘group grant’ funding has helped to pay for sensory equipment and room hire.

County Durham Housing Group Funding Officer, Damian Pearson, said: “Little Treasures do great work throughout the county and there was a clear demand in Bishop Auckland. We were very pleased to be able to provide support and I’m sure they’ll make a huge difference to the families who take part.

“Projects like this one are exactly the reason ‘group grant’ was set up. There are so many groups doing great work in County Durham where a relatively small amount of funding can make a real impact.”

Little Treasures also offers courses to group members and the general public intended to raise awareness of autism.

Lynsey Lathem’s daughter will be taking part in the new sessions. She said: “My daughter attended the Bishop Auckland group for the first time and loved it. She got involved with the relax kids that was running and enjoyed it so much she has asked if we can go to the next. This group helps her to be herself without worry of being judged and I can’t thank the organisers enough for this.”

Little Treasures Secretary Laura Younger, said: “We are so grateful to County Durham Housing Group for their funding. We have been able to pay room hire to ensure this new group can be maintained for a year and we were able to buy new equipment.

“We are over the moon with the support we’ve received for our Bishop venue, we rely heavily on donations and grants to fund what we do. The money has allowed us to expand and reach 15 new families in the Bishop Auckland area and hopefully more over the weeks to come.”

County Durham Housing Group launched its ‘group grant’ funding programme in summer 2017. In its first year more than £34,000 has been awarded to over 75 groups stretching from rural Weardale to the Durham coast.

The application process has been kept deliberately simple. Full details on how to apply are available here.

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