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Highland One Stop Shop in Inverness secures immediate future thanks to public and hard-working fundraisers

By Hazel Urquhart

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Walk for Autism
Walk for Autism

AN under-threat Highland charity that supports people with autism has secured its immediate future – thanks to the help of the public and the hard work of the fundraisers.

Autism Initiatives’ Highland One Stop Shop, based in Friars Street, Inverness, has gained enough support from members of the public and local companies to remain open after April, which it feared could have been its final month.

The news came as the service celebrated its sixth anniversary which also happened to be World Autism Awareness Day.

Autism Initiatives’ national director for Scotland, Catherine Steedman said: “The funding of our One Stop Shops continues to be our fundraising priority and we will therefore continue to apply for grants and undertake fundraising activities.

“Feedback from our recent stakeholder survey tells us that having a base for the One Stop Shop is a key component of the success of the model.

“We will, therefore, continue to provide services from Friars Street.”

The money donated to the charity will keep the service open for the foreseeable future, however it is always accepting donations and is still applying for grants to fund the service in future months.

Some of the money raised to keep the service active was raised by staff and service users who joined in the national Walk for Autism challenge, which consisted of each participant walking 10,000 steps per day for eight days.

Those involved raised donations of over £400 out of their £500 target on their online crowd funding page.

Despite providing a vital service, the One Stop Shop, which supports autistic people and their families across the Highlands, has experienced funding issues in the past. Two years ago there were fears it would close after NHS Highland cut its funding. An anonymous donor, Scottish Government grant and popular petition helped to save it.

The service provides a free, person-centred support service for adults aged 16 and over with an autism spectrum condition who live in the Highlands, as well as their families.

It offers free social groups and activities, scheduled drop in times and one-to-one appointments for advice and support on a range of issues.

The One Stop Shop has supported hundreds of autistic people since it opened and has been described as a lifesaver by the individuals and families.

You can still donate to the One Stop Shop in Highland at https://walkforautism.everydayhero.com/uk/highland-one-stop-shop

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