AN event to mark World Autism Awareness Day took place this week in Christchurch.

The Mayor of Christchurch, Cllr John Lofts, officially opened the Big Brekkie event at Bailey’s Cafe in Barrack Road, with support from charity, Autism Wessex.

He was also joined by pupils from Autism Wessex Lifeskills.

Debbie Anderson, fundraising and marketing manager for the Christchurch-based charity, said: “People have hosted all different types of brekkies – tea and toast, fruit and croissants, bacon rolls – to raise both money for the charity and awareness of autism in general.

“Just £17 would pay for a two-hour swimming session for an adult with autism. Swimming is a great sensory experience for people with autism, who feel things differently from others.

“All the funds raised will help us ensure a person affected by autism is set up for life by supporting our objective to increase our residential care homes every year, and we hope more than anything that these properties become lifelong homes for our residents.”

The charity needs to fundraise for three vital elements of the charity: the advocacy and advice service; set-up costs for new adult residential homes; and resources and equipment for Portfield School.

Debbie added: “Autism is a lifelong condition. Children with autism become adults with autism and in many cases require lifelong care.

“Needs evolve and change, but what doesn’t change is the demand for continuous and ongoing support to help make a difference every day of the year, and in many cases, for a lifetime. The Big Brekkie will help us maintain our services for those who need us most.”