On 18th September, LORIC hosted its 3rd Ideas Café event, with a focus on autism. These events aim to bring together anyone with a personal, professional or academic interest in Autism to meet, share ideas and collaborate on new projects.

Since the first event in April 2019, 31 Individuals have attended at least one event, with attendees coming from a range of organisations, including the NHS, various teams within Lincolnshire County Council, Bishop Grosseteste University, and the University of Lincoln. Previous attendees have also included a number of local businesses with an interest in supporting the autistic community in Lincolnshire. Many of our attendees also have personal experience of supporting a family member who is autistic. The event is open to everyone with an interest in autism, and we would welcome more individuals with autism, and parents/carers of people with autism to come along and share their views and ideas.

The impact of the Ideas Café events so far have been wide ranging, with the principal one being that it has provided a platform for people interested in autism to meet, network, and share knowledge and ideas at LORIC.

Activities undertaken at the events have included mapping out what services are available locally for those with autism, identifying services that are open to all, and those where a professional referral is needed, as well as beginning to explore where there are gaps in provision locally that a multi-agency approach might hope to tackle. Topics of discussion have included: current autism research; autism support in early years’ services; autism and leisure opportunities; funding for autism related projects; and careers and employability support for autistic adults.

Following on from these activities, there has been progress made by attendees that will hopefully support the autistic community in Lincolnshire, for example; The Family Services Directory team at Lincolnshire County Council are now working to include a “flag” for services that provide support for those with autism on their database which is hosted on the Lincolnshire County Council website.

Outcomes also include; a working group which aims to provide a project to support adults with autism in the work place; dissemination of information on services, funding and new initiatives; and providing a starting point for a range of collaborations. These new collaborations include a joint project between researchers from the Psychology department at Bishop Grosseteste University and the Engineering department of the University of Lincoln, and also collaborations between Bishop Grosseteste University academics and local businesses, including careers professionals, activities providers, and a local massage therapist with an interest in using massage to reduce symptoms of anxiety associated with autism.

For more information on the Ideas Café – Autism events held at LORIC, please follow LORIC’s events link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/lincolnshire-open-research-and-innovation-centre-17887241307 or contact kay.purle@bishopg.ac.uk