On the 14th September 2023, Dudley Autism Partnership Board held an open day at Saltwells EDC. Dudley Voices for Choice and Dudley Disability Service together supported people with lived experience to share their lives, how they had been challenged and most importantly how they had overcome them.
Jo started the day off sharing her journey and the journeys of other home educated parents and the struggle they face on a day-to-day basis. Jo’s experiences were heartfelt, relatable and from the nods that were happening around the room it was clear this was not just her journey.
Andrew from the CAMH’s service then addressed the room to share what their service offers and the challenges that they face. His openness and transparency meant that people could address their thoughts with him.
William shared his experiences of education, both when it goes wrong, when it needs to be done differently and most importantly getting it right. His reflection again represented many voices that we have heard before. His brave, honest and sincere approach to sharing his experiences will be something that professionals stated they will reflect on.
Andy from Glasshouse College told us about how working with materials was a successful approach to learning skills in a different way. He shared that the different ways of educating was an important part of The Glasshouse College ethos.
Simon told us about the Autism drop in and the things that they do on a Tuesday morning. He shared his enjoyment around working and hopes that he will again in the future get a job.
Jack’s journey was around his housing and his plans for independent living. The room filled with laughter when he shared that he was glad he had the opportunity to share and that he was getting a Chinese takeaway and was really looking forward to it.
Finally, the wonderful ladies from the DWP came to share the news that Stourbridge Job centre has been accredited as an autism friendly environment. They also shared the successes they have had with people they had supported.
A wonderful lunch was provided by Lunch on the Run where sandwiches and cakes were enjoyed by all attendees.
In the afternoon the board held an open session and invited all the attendees to share their viewpoints and what they feel the priorities. We will be sharing the priorities at the next meeting.