Busy Bees in Bradford

This morning, I had a really interesting chat with a taxi driver about autism provision in Bradford. He is really passionate about raising awareness of autism services so has asked me to help spread the word.

AUTISM+Y_A+2

This is his tale.

The Taxi Driver (Dad) has a number of children, including a son who was diagnosed with autism a few years ago. Dad said that in the past (pre-diagnosis), he didn’t know how to communicate with his little lad and they often ended up clashing over behavioural issues. Once the diagnosis was in place, Dad went through a full gauntlet of emotions – including guilt – and started to notice how invisible the neuro-atypical were, particularly – he noted emphatically – in his (the Asian) community. So he then ended up very worried that his son would end up hidden in the house, ‘protected’ but limited.

Enter the Busy Bees program (I think this is their website) – a 2 hour after school play group specifically for children with autism (or tendencies) and their siblings. This program has enriched his sons life so much. The little lad discovered he loves music and now plays the guitar and attended music lessons. His confidence has grown – not least from having peers he relates to – and he is now attending swimming classes too!

Being able to access support and information about autism has also relieved many of the family’s concerns for the future. Dad said that they’ve learned so much; they are hopeful and optimistic and feels they have many more options now.
Busy Bees has been hugely positive for the whole family and they are gutted that Bradford Autism Support (a registered charity) are having to suspend this and similar programs due to lack of funding (the last 4 years were funded by a lottery fund that ends next month according to this article as the Telegraph and Argus).
Dad is not terribly impressed that a successful program that has been of such enormous benefit is facing the axe due to a funding structure that he couldn’t get his head around.  As far as he is concerned; this vital service should be centrally provided for to avoid disruptions like this. He hopes that the Bradford council will step in…but the current economic  climate has made that less likely.
So – he is telling everyone that he can. He’s not asking anyone to *do* anything particularly – Dad just wants more people to be aware of how precious these services are to the families of those with autism (and tendencies).
If you are so inclined, then perhaps you could write to your local counsellor or newspaper or post something on social networking about Busy Bees?
From the Bradford Autism Support website:
Bradford Autism Support is a registered charity, set up to help families with children on the autistic spectrum.  We run various support groups and play sessions, and in some cases provide help where other organisations can’t.  We also offer autism awareness training for family members and carers of children on the autistic spectrum, as well as professionals working within other organisations.
Many of you will have read in the local news about our funding crisis.  Please do not panic – we are not closing.  The work we do is funded by various other organisations and charities.  We are currently supported by The Big Lottery Fund, The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (CBMDC), The Henry Smith Trust as well as many other smaller organisations and individuals.  Unfortunately the funding that we receive from the Big Lottery Fund and CBMDC will run out at the end of March.  This is because they agreed to fund us until then.  The funding ending is not a reflection on them or us.
It is with regret that we have to inform you that following the Easter holidays, we will be suspending delivery of Childrens Services.  We are hoping that this will be a temporary measure, however as things stand at present we do not have sufficient funding in place to continue running the out of school sessions.  The sessions affected will be Monday and Tuesday Social Skills, Busy Bees, Thursday Night High Support Group and the Saturday Play sessions.  We do have applications being processed for funding, however as the outcome of these is not guaranteed we need to take steps now to ensure that there is a clean break with a definite end.  We hope that services will be restarted in the near future, but in the mean time I think you would all join me in thanking Simonne, Helen and Danielle for their hard work, dedication and the support they have provided through the groups.
Cross posted on Leeds Book Club
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