A North-East council is continuing to lead the way in training its staff to be more aware of autism and other neurodiverse conditions.

Darlington Borough Council has embraced the training services offered by the award-winning North East Autism Society as the town aims to become one of the most autism-friendly places in Britain.

Around 200 employees from Darlington Borough Council took part in an initial training day delivered by NEAS experts in June.

And that partnership has continued with 15 more training sessions in autism awareness being completed.

Participants include staff employed in customer services, early years learning, civic enforcement, housing, transport, legal services, and those dealing with fly-tipping and other examples of anti-social behavior.

Earlier this week, a session was dedicated to swimming pool attendants at the Dolphin Centre.

Dawn Wise, training manager for NEAS, said: “We have covered a huge range of council employees in Darlington and the engagement and feedback has been really positive. It is so refreshing to see a local authority taking such a proactive approach to making its staff more aware of the needs of people with autism and other neurodiverse conditions.”

Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: "The council places a high priority on autism awareness, and the training sessions we've rolled out to staff have been well attended with positive feedback.

"Both the council and the North East Autism Society are committed to leading the way in making Darlington one of the most autism and neurodiversity aware places in the country."

A working party has been set up in Darlington to maintain the focus on the campaign to raise the bar on autism acceptance.

One of the members of the working party is Susan Young, manager of the Cornmill Shopping Centre, which has responded with a “Quiet Hour” every Sunday between 10.30 and 11.30.

Susan said: “The training by NEAS has been very valuable to members of staff who are now better equipped to assist autistic people and their families. We are keen to continue working with NEAS to roll out the training further.”

NEAS was recently a finalist for the North East Charity of the Year title and also won the “Not For Profit Campaign of the Year” category at the North East Marketing Awards.

  • The charity is expanding its services and is looking to recruit teachers and teaching assistants. There are also vacancies in other care and education roles. Anyone interesting in being part of the charity should call the NEAS recruitment team on 0191 410 9974, email recruitment@ne-as.org.uk, or view vacancies here

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