The region’s biggest building society hosted its first successful Autism Friendly Day in its Yarm branch in collaboration with Daisy Chain.

Newcastle Building Society has been working with Daisy Chain for several years which provides support for families affected by autism.

Seven children and their families, totalling 15 attendees, braved the snow to attend the event. The numbers allowed branch manager Kimberley Saunders, assistant branch manager Helena and library manager Cath to spend quality time with each child.

From crafting dinosaurs and pigs to Easter themed bunny rabbits, children spent their time on a variety of creative tasks.

Kimberly said: “Upon leaving, many of the parents said to me how amazed they were at the length of time their child was happy to stay for, particularly parents of children who don’t feel comfortable socialising with others.

“The parents also said they were really impressed with the exclusive session for children with autism as they are often stumped for places to take their children and that a quiet and public library would usually be a no go. So this is something we’re hoping to do more of in the future with the help of Daisy Chain.”

Leigh Swansbury, parent of Luke, said: “The event was great - Luke thoroughly enjoyed it, which was proved by the fact he stayed to the very end. Arts and crafts is one of his favourite interests and it was nice to have a new environment to explore, a place where Luke could explore different surroundings.”

After lots of crafting fun the children were given free reign of the library. Some sat quietly reading on their own or with their parents, while others sat down for story time with Kimberley. They particularly favoured the sensory books the library has to offer, which encouraged touching and feeling of different textures.

Parent of Ava and Albie, Sarah Berry, said: “We all had a lovely time at the Easter craft session. Everybody was really friendly and welcoming and it was so nice to enjoy the craft making in a totally relaxed and comfortable environment. The children were proud of what they made and said they had a fun time. They also enjoyed the goody bag, and spent time doing the puzzle books afterwards, it really was a great afternoon.” 

At the end of the event, the children received a Newcastle Building Society goody bag and parents received an information pack and a £5 investment voucher that could kick start a children’s account with Newcastle Building Society.

Holly Abbott, corporate partnership manager at Daisy Chain, said: “It’s fantastic that the event was such a great success and all the families had such an enjoyable experience. We know it is difficult for our families to find places to go and activities to do in mainstream environments so to be able to enjoy the library and a crafting session all set up to be autism friendly is wonderful. We are really grateful to Newcastle Building Society for their support and demonstrating that there are many innovative ways to support Daisy Chain.”

As well as the Autism Friendly Day at the Yarm branch, Newcastle Building Society is the sole sponsor of Daisy Chain’s World Autism Awareness Event, which will be held at their Norton site on Saturday April 14th.