Calls for autism centre in Thurrock

A CENTRE to support people with autism is the dream for parents and councillors in Thurrock.

A motion calling for plans for a centre to be assessed was tabled by Labour councillor Angie Gaywood, who has an autistic son, at a meeting of the full council.

Cllr Gaywood told the council chamber that there are around 1,500 people in the borough who have been diagnosed with the disorder.

She said: “The number of children, young people and adults with Autism in Thurrock is rapidly increasing and their needs may not be met unless we consider something which could provide a multitude of support, skills and care.

“Parents of children with autism have asked for a safe haven where their children, as adults, will have a permanent home, a transition between home and moving towards independent living and also lead a fulfilling and enriched life learning additional skills, rather than be placed in an institutional environment outside of the borough.”

Councillor Gaywood urged the council to work with the Autism Trust who aim to provide networks of outreach centres for the sufferers of the condition.

The public gallery was packed with members of the Autism Trust who had held a meeting before the council business began.

A number of councilors echoed their support for the centre.

Deputy leader of the council, Val Morris-Cook said: “ We need to not be afraid of tackling this and really go for it.”

Portfolio holder for childrens’ services, Diana Hale had her reservations

She said: “I worry that we may be too small a borough to go it alone.”

But portfolio holder for culture, cllr Lynn Worrall believed that a bit more ambition was needed.

She said: “Because we are a small borough, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be aiming high.

“We might be small, but we are as good as everyone else, and we deserve it.”

The motion, which called for officers across council directorates to work with The Autism Trust to investigate the potential for a centre, was carried.

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