Hannah, Jo and Terri are all parents with autistic children and they were all too aware of the challenges that exist in accessing support and information in addition to the provision of activities to stimulate development and social interaction.
They are passionate about ensuring that other parents in a similar position and also carers can enhance their children’s lives through accessing the right educational support through working with parents who fully understand through their own personal experiences.
They decided it was important to set up an organisation in Liverpool to facilitate support, networking, activities and events to raise awareness of autism however they were unsure how to go about it.
Following a conversation with their local councillor in Norris Green, Barry Kushner, Jo Hannah and Terri met with Business Advisor Ian Marshall from the Enterprise Hub team at Alt Valley Community Trust.
Following the initial meeting, the three partners were enrolled onto the programme attending workshops in addition to the one to one support from their Business Advisor. They benefitted from Alt Valley’s workshops on subjects including ‘Starting your own Business’, ‘How to set up a social Enterprise’ ‘How to Market your Business’, ‘Social Media for Business’ and ‘Setting up a WordPress website’.
Given the community and social values, it was agreed that the business would be established as a Community Interest Company which offers a flexible approach to managing a social enterprise. In addition, such a business has the potential to apply for grant funding in order to enhance its support services. Alt Valley assisted Jo, Hannah and Terri through the application process and ‘Autism in Motion Liverpool CIC’ was incorporated in January 2017.
They are delighted with the support they have received from Alt Valley Community Trust which has helped them access grant funding through the National Lottery's ‘Unlimited’ fund in addition to other sources.
The company is now renting office space and continues to grow through enhanced activities for children, presentations and events for parents and carers.
On Sunday 2nd April – World Autism Day - the directors organised an event in Norris Green Park which was a huge success. The aim was to raise awareness of autism through providing information and partnering with other organisations to enhance health and wellbeing. There was also entertainment, craft and gift stalls and it was very well attended, exceeding all expectations!
Hannah said: "We started Autism in Motion because we realised through our own experience that there was very little support for families like our own in the north part of the city. We began with monthly coffee mornings for parents and occasional activities to engage with the whole family. Six months later demands of the business mean that we have now increased our parent meetings to twice a month with guest speakers, specialist courses and activities for the children and their siblings six days a week. It's amazing!! "
Terri said: "We were looking for a way that we could bring all of the specialist services together in one place for our families to be able to access the support that they may need. From this idea ‘picnic in the park’ was born. We liaised with local and more experienced community groups, councillors and council officers to hold an Autism awareness event in Norris Green Park on April 2nd to celebrate world autism day. The event was a huge success with more than 500 people from the local and wider community joining us for a fabulous day. We were completely overwhelmed by the turnout.
"Joanne said: "I can’t believe how far we’ve come already, when we first met Ian we were just a couple of mums with a vague idea of what we wanted to do but no clue about how to do it. With the guidance and support we have received from Ian and the rest of the team we are now a viable business. we have new families coming to us weekly and we love seeing the impact the support and activities have on them, its just wonderful."