Hope GB, bringing a glimmer of hope for families of autistic children

Torfaen Voluntary Alliance works with some amazing organisations across Torfaen, this is just one of those that we’ve supported in the last year and continue to do so.

Hope GB is a registered charity based in Torfaen, South Wales, offering support services to people with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASCs), and their families. As a people-centred organisation, they place great importance on building relationships.  It’s their belief that strong relationships can create a solid foundation that enables and encourages positive change.

It’s been 14 years since Sarah’s son was diagnosed with Autism, and at a time when support groups didn’t really exist, she and some other parents of autistic children, got together and created a group. The group has grown and is now a registered charity in Torfaen.

Back then, they started out in a room in New Inn and met once per month, and it’s grown quite organically in how it’s developed during that time.

Sarah tells us; “Parents enjoyed meeting together, having that peer support, and in that way, people find out information just by talking to other people who share the same experience”.

Autism, or Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) is a complex developmental disorder that is normally diagnosed in early childhood. People with autism have difficulties communicating, forming relationships with others and find it hard to make sense of the world around them. It is estimated that approximately 67 million people worldwide are affected by autism. Many others are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help. Hope GB exists to provide support, encouragement and guidance to people from all walks of life that are affected by autism.

They offer a range of things to the community and during lockdown this has been limited to sensory activity packs to young people who have a diagnosis of autism and live in Torfaen. Prior to the pandemic they would be hosting autism specific youth clubs in New Inn on a weekly basis which were extremely popular with up to 30 children attending.

TVA helped support Hope GB through funding of over £6,148.

When lockdown started, they had to develop ways of changing that face-to-face service, Sarah adds.

“We had to adapt the service in order to try and keep that face to face way of operating. This has helped fund the provision and delivery of monthly activity packs to fifty autistic children and young people aged between 5 and 18 who live in Torfaen. The packs were individually prepared to ensure they are suitable for the young person and contained something that they like and will engage with”.

Claire is from Cwmbran, and her daughter Chloe has been supported by Hope GB.

“When Chloe was 3 years old, we realised that something wasn’t quite right. She would struggle to communicate with others and couldn’t talk very well. The A word came up quite regularly but no matter how many times we would ask for help, it never came. It wasn’t until Chloe was 8 that she was diagnosed with Autism. It took us 5 long years to finally get a diagnosis and it was such a relief as she could finally get the help she needed.

With the support of the amazing charity Hope GB and the help of her teachers, Chloe is finding ways of learning to cope with situations that may not affect me and you on a regular basis. We are so proud of Chloe”.

Outside of the pandemic they also wish to run a monthly daytime support group on the last Tuesday of the month and are looking forward to arranging day trips and and fun family activities during the school holidays. The support group is for parents, grandparents and carers and the trips are for the whole family. 

Sarah concludes; “Hope GB’s main aim is to enrich lives affected by Autism”.

You can contact Hope GB via their website hopegb.co.uk, or by calling 01633 495824

Local community groups, organisations, sports clubs or community venue based in Torfaen! TVA can help with you supporting volunteers, your governance, funding and online support. For more information contact us at www.tvawales.org.uk or on social media, search @TVAWales.

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By Patrick Downes

Comms Lead - Third Sector Development TVA