Autism champion pushes for action

November 08 2013

Bishopston councillor David Willingham visited Parliament last month to lobby government for increased support for people with autism.

Bishopston councillor David Willingham visited Parliament last month to lobby government for increased support for people with autism.

The event - hosted by the National Autistic Society (NAS) as part of its Push for Action campaign - was held at the House of Commons on October 15.

Mr Willingham, who is Bristol City Council's Autism Champion, attended the event with Bristol West MP Stephen Williams.

The Liberal Democrat councillor, who has Asperger Syndrome - an autistic spectrum condition - said: "More than one in every 100 adults has autism. In 2009, the Autism Act was passed, with the intention of ensuring they all get the everyday support they need.

"But four years on, despite good progress in some parts of the country, too many are still waiting for that support."

He added: "Investment in an innovation fund would allow leading services like Bristol Autism Spectrum Service to receive the extra funding they need to deliver services such as employment support. 

"Fifty five per cent of autistic adults would like to get employment support, but only 10 percent actually receive it. The multiple benefits to the individual and society by investing to help autistic people remain independent and keep their jobs, are obvious."

The NAS is calling for three changes: an innovation fund to assist with the development of new autism services; improved autism awareness training for professionals in health & social care services, job centres, and the criminal justice system; and for autism to be prioritised, and included in health and social care reforms.

Stephen Williams said: "I am delighted to support the Push For Action campaign. For too long, autism has been stigmatised and ignored.

"I am fully supportive of all measures which will genuinely improve the lives of autistic people. If they don’t have the right support, many people with autism can struggle with the everyday activities that many of us take for granted.

"The review of the Autism Act gives people with autism a second chance to be heard and I am determined to give autism the equal attention it deserves."

Autism champion, Councillor Willingham, pushing for action