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The only way is Wessex as Jane Asher helps relaunch autism charity
A DORSET charity, which helps hundreds of local people every year, has undergone a rebranding, re-launching itself as Autism Wessex.
Formerly the Wessex Autistic Society, Autism Wessex was officially launched yesterday by actress and author Jane Asher, president of the National Autistic Society.
he event marks a turning point for the charity, which is aiming to make the Christchurch-based organisation more inclusive, so it responds to needs rather than their particular diagnosis.
Portfield School and Community Wessex – which covers the social care services – are now standalone brands under the main charity, whose vision remains focused on people with autism, although still accessible to people without.
Jane said: “I knew from the very moment I first got involved with Autism Wessex as it is now known, that they have had a wonderful name all through the years.
“It has moved with the times and adapted brilliantly.
“I think the new branding looks terrific – simple yet very clever.
“It is an honour for me to be a part of this very important ceremony as I believe the work this charity does is so important and provides such a valuable service to families and individuals.
“With the sort of efficiency already shown by the charity, it shows we can provide what’s needed.
“I believe we can help give dignity, and that’s why I am so honoured to be here launching Autism Wessex.”
Bob Lowndes, chief executive of Autism Wessex, said: “A great benefit of re-branding is that it allows us to acknowledge our strengths and re-focus on how we can have greatest impact.
“The change is also important because it gives us an opportunity to remind ourselves and the people we engage with, of our values.
“We’ve always stood for the highest standards and this remains so.
“As a leading charity we have an important role to play in promoting better lives for people with autism and their families.
“It also reminds us how proud all of us who work for Autism Wessex can be about the many and varied services we offer.”
School contribution praised
Guests at the event also heard from 11-year-old Albert Holes, whose older brother Stanley, 16, was diagnosed with autism just after his third birthday.
Albert regaled the audience with tales of family life – both happy and tough – with an autistic sibling.
He said Stanley, now a boarder at Portfield School, inspired him and his sisters – Mabel, 15, and Elsie, 7, to dedicate their future to helping people with autism.
And the youngster, who wants to be an actor or writer, said he will dedicate his first BAFTA or Oscar to his brother.
“Since he started at Portfield he has progressed a lot ”, Albert said.
“I can’t explain how grateful we are to the school staff for helping to get Stanley to where he is now.