Daisy Chain, the charity which provides support for people living with autism, has reopened its services for the first time since the pandemic, to provide much needed respite for families in Teesside.
The charity’s day centre, farm and recently refurbished sensory play area based on Calf Fallow Lane, Norton, have undergone health and safety adaptations to enable families in the local area to return to the services.
The closure of much needed respite facilities for families across Teesside during the pandemic, including services provided by Daisy Chain, has proven to have a significant impact on people’s mental health, particularly those living with autism.
Without regular contact with services like Daisy Chain, children and their families have been struggling to adapt to changes in day to day life. One of the Teesside families that has been affected by the closure of services is 12-year-old George, his mum Kate Alewood and six-year-old sister Ellie.
George was diagnosed with autism in October 2011 and has been attending Daisy Chain services since February 2011. His family have all benefitted from the charity’s essential services and are thrilled they are now open again.
Kate said: “I think lock down has been particularly difficult for autism families due to the lack of structure and routine. George thrives on routine and Daisy Chain is very much a part of that.
“George likes to go to the social clubs at Daisy Chain and enjoys outdoor and forest school regularly too. We all take part in the family days most Saturdays and George’s sister, Ellie, is a member of the sibling group, so Daisy Chain is a big part of all our lives.
“During lock down, it has been very difficult not having the usual services available. We have tried to keep some routine within the day, but it’s difficult when we are all stuck in together. Going to Daisy Chain gives George respite from the family and it can also help him to understand his autism better.
“We are all looking forward to getting back to Daisy Chain. I am hoping to book George on some of the chill clubs and get some family days booked in the summer. I think it will be good for us all to have some normality back and for George to have some time for himself.”
Neeraj Sharma, chief executive of Daisy Chain, said: “We’re delighted that we can welcome back families to our services and to start providing much needed respite following the pandemic. I’d also like to thank players of People’s Postcode Lottery, their continued support has meant that we have been able to reopen our doors to provide autism services to Teesside families and individuals.
“Services like Daisy Chain are vital to those living with autism and their families and are a big part of people’s daily routines. We have ensured all our services are in line with government guidelines so that they are safe for both staff and service users to enjoy.
“A range of exciting services have been planned for the summer, spanning from morning to evening and from Monday to Sunday. The sessions cater to a wide range of service users and age groups, including family activity days, chill clubs, yoga sessions and even crazy golf!”