About our Branch

Our Branch was formed from a small support group set up in March 2004 for parents of children with autism and Asperger syndrome in mainstream schools. The group attracted a lot of interest from parents and soon we were also running our monthly family youth club. We were soon welcoming anyone who was affected by autism whether children, adults, parents or professionals, so called upon the National Autistic Society for assistance.

In January 2005 we became the Eastleigh and Winchester Branch of the National Autistic Society.

Over the years our membership increased considerably to well over 100 families and, as it covered a much wider area than just Eastleigh and Winchester, we decided to change our name to reflect this.

In October 2008 we became the South Hampshire Branch and were pleased to welcome the Asperger Support and Social Group, based in Southampton, as part of the branch.

In 2015 we celebrated our 10th anniversary as a Branch of the National Autistic Society.

We now have over 500 members and offer a wide range of support and activities (see our Diary dates pages).

Please see below for more information about the branch:

 

News from the committee

Branch information is now regularly being circulated to more than 750 families and professionals. Although we are based in the Eastleigh/Winchester/Southampton area, we welcome anyone for whom our group may be a helpful resource.

We have received an increase in enquiries in recent months. Information about our branch is being circulated by health professionals on a regular basis.

A number of events have taken place locally over the years, in addition to our monthly parent support group meetings and family youth club. This will give you an idea of some of the activities we get involved in:

  • In 2006 and 2007, we hosted NAS help! programmes in Eastleigh, run by the NAS help! team - excellent days with over 60 people attending each one.
  • Since 2006 we have had a stand at the Hampshire Special Needs Information Days
  • In 2006 the Branch Officer attended the launch of the Make school make sense education campaign at the Houses of Parliament.
  • In July 2006, our Resource Library was launched at our support group meeting.
  • Since 2006 we have run a series of social skills courses benefitting almost 100 children and young people.
  • Between 2006 and 2013, we hosted NAS help!2 programmes and family seminars in Eastleigh, run by the NAS help! team.
  • In May 2008 we joined forces with the other three NAS branches in the county to launch the NAS I Exist campaign in Hampshire.
  • In October 2008 we became the South Hampshire Branch.
  • In 2011 and 2017 we organised seminars at Winchester Guildhall featuring Professor Tony Attwood, one of the world's leading experts in Asperger syndrome, each attended by 400 delegates.
  • In 2014 we began jointly hosting a monthly local initiative with Eastleigh Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Paediatric Services (Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy) and the Primary Behaviour Service (Education). As a result of this group, CAMHS have now commissioned similar groups across Hampshire facilitated by Autism Hampshire.
  • In 2015 we launched our monthly LEGO club and the branch reached its 10th anniversary
  • We held two 10th Anniversary celebratory events: Sailing on SS Shieldhall in Southampton Water and an exclusive evening at Winchester's Science Centre and Planetarium.

Our monthly parent support meetings continue to be well attended and we have had some interesting guests. 
From The National Autistic Society, we have welcomed a number of guests. Other visitors have also included representatives from The Aviary and Lantern's Children's Centres, Hampshire Families, Eastleigh Child and Family Guidance, the Eastleigh in touch project, Support4SEND (Hampshire Parent Partnership), Connexions, Contact a Family, Portsmouth Autism Support Network, Not Just Talking Ltd, Southampton Autism Assessment Team, Hampshire Police, Hampshire Adult and Children's Services, Hampshire County Council, Eastleigh CAMHS, Community Wessex, KIDS Face2Face Befrienders, Speaking Space, Healthwatch Hampshire, Portsmouth Autism Research Network, Autism Hampshire, medical professionals, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, an Educational Psychologist, a dramatherapist and other professionals in the field of autism.

Our Family Youth Club continues to be a success and we are now running a LEGO club.

On the social front, we have enjoyed parents' skittles evenings, a Family Fun Day at Fairthorne Manor which attracted over 90 members, a Quiz Night, A cruise on SS Shieldhall and an evening at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. Our Southampton social groups also run a variety of social events throughout the year. 

The branch is represented on the Hampshire Autism Partnership Board (HAPB) and we actively campaign for improved understanding and support for children, young people and adults with autism, and their families. We also provide support to Hampshire Autism Voice (the parent, carers and people with autism group of the HAPB).

We now regularly offer Introduction to Autism talks to local community groups and businesses to raise awareness and understanding of autism.

We have also drawn up and approved a Branch Child Protection Policy and Equal Opportunities Policy.

Members are asked to complete a branch membership form if they have not already done so. We also encourage members to become full members of the National Autistic Society. There are a great many advantages. A leaflet and membership form is available from the Branch Officer or visit the NAS web site for full details. (Additionally the Branch gains financially from each NAS member who nominates us on joining).

As always, we are pleased to hear from anyone interested in coming along to our meetings and from existing members with ideas for events, fund raising, etc.

At present the committee are David, Rachel, Claire, Gillian, Linda, Ian, Lisa, Caroline and Tracey. We would welcome any other volunteers to join us, whether as committee members or as occasional helpers. Please do get in touch if you are able to help.


 

Family youth club

Our monthly Saturday afternoon club continues to be a success with between 20 and 30 young people attending with their families each month.

The cost per child is £1.50 per session.

Chandlers Ford Methodist Church Youth Club kindly continue to allow us use of their facilities around once a month on Saturday afternoons. Our thanks to our volunteers who help out on the day.


Resource library

Thanks to an initial grant from the Local Network Fund, we were able to set up a resource library which now contains over 350 items. Members are able to borrow books, videos and DVDs on ASD topics. For full details of the library and how you can join, please click here.


Social skills groups

During 2006 and early 2007, thanks to funding from Awards for All, we were able to run four social skills groups (for 5 to 16 year olds) All four 6-session courses were a great success and the 26 young people also enjoyed their Activity Days at Calshot or Fairthorne Manor.

Thanks to new funding from the Local Network Fund, we were able to extend the programme into 2008. In August 2007 six young people from our previous courses took part in a self-esteem group. In the Autumn we ran a new social skills course for 7 to 11 year-olds and another was held during February and March 2008 for 11 to 14 year-olds. Additional 'Good Experience' groups in August 2008 concentrated on self-esteem. Funding also enabled some social skills sessions at our teenage youth club at Fair Oak.

Thanks to a grant from the Grassroots Fund, we were able to restart the programme in 2010 and ran four courses between October 2010 and May 2011. Over 20 children benefitted from these.

We have been able to run further series of courses since then, as and when funding has been available. To date, almost 100 children and young people have benefitted from these courses. 


Teenage youth clubs

On 2 October 2007 we were very pleased to see the launch of a teenage youth club for children with social communication difficulties. This was a joint project between ourselves, the Eastleigh in touch project and Fair Oak Youth Centre. A 'pilot group' of over 13s drawn from our previous social skills groups and from the in touch project got the club underway.The weekly running of the club is now in the capable hands of local charity, Friends of In Touch. The National Autistic Society have assisted with staff training and continue to have close links with the charity. The club continues to be a success. If anyone is interested, we can put you in touch.

Additionally similar groups are now running in Hamble, Hedge End and Romsey.








The South Hampshire Branch is a self-funded branch of the National Autistic Society and run entirely by volunteers.

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