We support and empower autistic and neurodivergent individuals through the provision of holistic person-centred services, whilst promoting training, wellbeing, inclusion and acceptance regionally and nationwide.
Daisy Chain began life in 2003 as the dream of its founder, Lesley Hanson, whose son Jacob was diagnosed as autistic at an early age. Lesley realised there was a lack of support available in the region for autistic people and dreamed of a place for autistic children and adults; a place where they could receive personalised support and feel safe to be their authentic selves.
She wrote notes on an evening about what this place would look like – it needed to be close to towns and cities, but still feel ‘away from it all.’ It needed to be a place where people felt no guilt about being themselves, somewhere that was inclusive and offered essential respite and experiences for autistic people and their families.
Soon after, Lesley and her husband Duane set off on a quest to make her dream become a reality. They started with street collections and building awareness, shining a light on the challenges that autistic people and families faced. They eventually met our Patron, Albert Dicken, who was a part of their church congregation. Albert funded the purchase of our farm site back in 2003, and went on to be our Chair of Trustees for a number of years.
After extensive fundraising, the doors to Daisy Chain opened one year after Lesley’s initial dream and has continued to grow every since. Tragically, Lesley died in 2004, but her dream lives on.
Initially launched as a community initiative for autistic children and young people, the charity has evolved significantly, and now also provides support for adults. Daisy Chain day centre is based on a 5.5-acre site offering state-of-the-art facilities and therapeutic animal therapy and also provides community outreach services across the North East region.
We have continually evolved in line with beneficiary need. Annually, we offer a variety of specialist provisions to over 5,000 families and neurodiverse individuals inclusive of social clubs, respite care, wellbeing, independent living skills, employability and animal therapy.