TYP Christmas Campaign: Your time to make a difference

Pictured (left to right) Alexis Webster, 5, and Sophie Thorpe, 8, grooming one of the centre's ponies called Blackjack.
Pictured (left to right) Alexis Webster, 5, and Sophie Thorpe, 8, grooming one of the centre's ponies called Blackjack.
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Your donations will help families with children with autism access life-changing support services and mentoring programmes run by this innovative local charity.

But we also want to make a real difference in increasing awareness and understanding and so are calling on places such as attractions, theatres and shops to hold special autism accessible events enabling families to enjoy the day-to-day activities that others do.

“There are hundreds of children in Yorkshire who really are struggling,,” said Lynn Westerman Holt, a parent who works with Autism Angels which is based on a farm between Leeds and Harrogate.

“They are quite isolated, and in many cases very much judged when they do venture out.

“We are creating an environment that is safe for them, unconditionally. A place for them to come and have the same opportunities to learn and grow and have fun that other children do. The money donated will be used to help families who are waiting right now. There are hundreds of families across the region who are isolated at the moment and they are not getting the help and support they need.”

Autism Angels, founded by horse-whisperer Sarah Craven, works with children of all ages with additional needs at the farm near Sicklinghall.

The charity’s programmes work with horses to create real-life situations for the children and their families,but in an environment they find calming. The work includes mentoring programmes and family sessions as well as fun days and camps.

For Mrs Craven, best known under her maiden name of Kreutzer, it’s more than a centre; it’s a community.

“It’s become somewhere people can go unconditionally,” she said. “For some, it’s a second home. We want to become a sanctuary, where they can grow and stretch.”

Your donations are vitally important, but key to this year’s Christmas campaign is also the focus on accessibility for youngsters with autism, calling on organisations across the region to open up events so that every child can access them. We will be reporting on places which agree to help as part of the appeal.

“For many families, struggling, their world just gets smaller and smaller,” said Mrs Craven. “Even a simple trip to the supermarket can turn to crisis.

“Studies have found that parents are living with combat levels of stress hormones - they are always on alert, there’s always a crisis around the corner.

“Their siblings too are very aware of the comments and tuts, and that stays with them. Accessibility is so important. Where you’re not rushed, there’s no pressure.”

Mrs Westerman Holt, who became involved with Autism Angels after experiencing her son’s additional needs, said: “You can fight it and fight it or, more likely, you lock yourselves away, retreat home and stop trying. You make the world smaller. You strip it back, bit by bit, to what you can manage as a family.”

This Christmas, we’re asking readers of The Yorkshire Post to help raise money so that more people’s lives can be transformed through the work of Autism Angels.

We’re also calling on businesses such as attractions, theatres and shops to hold special autism accessible events so that families can enjoy the day-to-day activities that others do.

WAYS TO DONATE

Cheques, payable to Autism Angels, can be sent to The Yorkshire Post Christmas Appeal, No1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Rd, Leeds LS12 1BE.

Text Giving: Supporters can text £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to Autism Angels by texting this code, YPAA22 followed by the amount to 70070. (eg: YPAA22 £10)

Just Giving: Visit www.justgiving.com/autism-angelsjg

YOUR SUPPORT

For volunteering, sponsorship opportunities or if you want to organise an autism accessible event, call Autism Angels on 0113 387 3064 or e-mail info@autismangels.co.uk

If you are arranging an event please email The Yorkshire Post too and contact hannah.start@jpress.co.uk