10th June 2021
“Ten years ago, I was told to give up on art which was my only escape. I was told I was rubbish. When I joined Triple A, I could only draw in black and grey because that is how I saw the world. I was really not happy. But now I can draw in colour because I can finally see colour!”
These are the words of Carly who spent most of her life as a victim of hate crime. She was subjected to the vilest bullying, which resulted in her retracting from society with regular self-harming and suicide attempts.
Carly is now one of the key members of the Triple A team who co-delivers ‘understanding autism’ training and supports others in the autism community.
Carly continued: “Just because people have autism, it doesn’t mean we are worth less. We just see the world in a different way – autism is a neurological difference.
“Before I first joined, I rarely left the house and relied on my mum for a lot. I was a self-harmer and hated myself and could not look in a mirror.
“Now I am a volunteer for Triple A and I have friends, I can look in a mirror. I have finely accepted who I am, and I am happy. I also help other autistic people through Positive Pals in Penrith and Carlisle – these are mostly people who are in the place I was back then. I now have my own flat because I now feel confident to live independently.”
Based in Penrith, Triple A Project was set up in 2017 by people who are either autistic or have direct experience through close family members.
The charity received £4,000 from the Robinson Family Fund and the Abbeyfield Carlisle Society Community First Fund. Funding contributed towards the Project Coordinators salary for the Navigator Programme, which uses trained individuals to provide specialist one-to-one mentoring to assist autistic individuals and their families. A Navigator is a hybrid of mentor, befriender and is matched with an autistic adult. The aim is to steer and support individuals towards a safe and positive life, building on strengths and navigating a path towards identified goals.
Chair, Karen Quinn, said: “During this extremely difficult and challenging period, the Project Coordinator has been pivotal and crucial both during lockdown and during the ease of restrictions.
“We have had to find new ways of engaging with beneficiaries and it changed, morphed, flexed all services to fit everyone across the county as far as practical and possible. As lockdown eased, we recognised the urgent need to encourage people to re-engage with community, as mental health is deteriorating. This would not have been possible without the role of the Project Coordinator, who had initially been given coordination hours through this grant. The grant enabled us to start the Project Co-ordinator role, while we sought further funds for the post.”