Autism charity opens £2.5m appeal

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Fundraiser Rick Myers with Queen's Royal owner Mike Rice

Fundraiser Rick Myers with Queen’s Royal owner Mike Rice

A local charity has launched an ambitious £2.5m appeal to help families care for loved ones with autism.

Autism is a lifelong development condition, hence a child with autism needs a lot of care and support.

Wirral Autistic Society (WAS) was set up in 1968 by a group of six families struggling to provide the support their autistic children needed when approaching adulthood.

The society has now launched the biggest appeal in its 45-year history.

Around 550,000 families across the UK have children who live with autism, but with only 3,000 places at residential homes across the country, there are still many families who need help.

Good quality residential accommodation is in very short supply throughout the UK.

The Lifetime Appeal will initially see the society’s original home, Raby Hall, completely redeveloped at a cost of £755k.

The project will create brand new, state-of-the-art accommodation for eight people who are living with autism.

Thomas Whelan, 21, will be one of the people with autism who will benefit from the project.

Rick Myers, fundraiser for WAS, told JMU Journalism: “Thomas is one of the ones who will be affected by the move.

“He is quite sensitive to noise and the environment and finds it difficult to live in Raby Hall as it’s just not fit for purpose anymore – narrow corridors, no en-suite facilities, very noisy at meal times.

“We want to build something we can leave for future generations, our homes are a home for life.”

While the society’s current facilities provide a great service they are dated, far from ideal and unable to accommodate the number of sufferers the society attracts.

Because of the lack of services the homes can offer at the moment, lodgers are restricted in their potential to achieve.

Guests at the new Raby Hall facility will enjoy a lot more comfort in their everyday lives with the aim to allow people with autism to live like any other person.

Mr Myers is aiming to raise the funds necessary within the next 18 months so the redevelopment can take place as soon as possible.

The appeal has already received a massive boost with a donation of £7,500 from Mike Rice, owner of the Queens Royal Hotel, New Brighton.

The hotel adopted the society as its charity more than a year ago and has already made a massive difference.

After attending the launch Mr Rice said: “I was very touched by a video which was screened illustrating the urgent need for updated, modern residential facilities which will make such a difference to the client’s lives.”

The society also offers family support services. As it specialises in providing care for young adults aged 16 and above, it is often helpful for parents to have financial advice along with coping and management skill workshops.

Arthur Johnson, press officer for WAS, told JMU Journalism: “There isn’t formal help for sufferers once they are out of education, which makes this all the more important.”

The Lifetime Appeal is a three-phase development which in total aims to raise in the region of £2.5m over the next ten years.

Wirral Autistic Society Lifetime Appeal Video is available to view at

About Katie Croft, JMU Journalism