Tuesday 16 July 2019

Full buy-in needed to make New Ross autism friendly

David Looby

Businesses, schools and community groups in New Ross have to come on board to help make the town autism friendly over the coming 12 months.

Sinn Fein election candidate Marie Doyle made the application to AsIAm for New Ross to become an autism friendly town earlier this year, having received support from Molloy's Supervalu. Marie said she got the idea having came across countless families and individuals in the district who were in some way affected by autism. 'I heard about it when it first was announced a few years ago and then I got information on it,' the social care worker said.

She said this initiative will require the involvement of local businesses and community groups in New Ross to work together.

Marie said: 'The meeting at the Kennedy Boutique Hotel was such a success. So many people from all different aspects of the New Ross community attended, including teachers, businesspeople and parents of children with autism.'

Among the speakers were Mag Furness of Cottage Autism Network, Peter McHugh (of the New Ross Children with Special Needs Facebook page), Anne Keenan of Cumas New Ross and Erica Fagan from AsIAM.

Marie said there are percentage targets for each category of business, for example 15 per cent for retail. 'Each town needs to reach a minimum of these percentages in each category.'

A further information meeting will be held in mid-June when the committee will start contacting businesses to support the initiative.

Marie said only Clonakilty in Co Cork has obtained autism friendly status, saying this is a great opportunity for New Ross to lead from the front in creating an autism friendly space for people of all ages.

She said everything from transport to schools will be involved over the coming year. 'At the meeting people came forward and said they wanted to be on the committee. Now we're going to have to get out there and meet with all of the business and all of the community groups. This will be a project that involves huge community effort, however many people in the community are excited about it,' Marie said.

She thanked the Kennedy Boutique Hotel who kindly offered complimentary use of their function room with refreshments for the meeting. If anyone has any queries in regards to this initiative they can contact Marie on 086-3598107.

New Ross Standard