Autistic people talked about some of the barriers they face at Bristol’s first ever MP surgery specially dedicated to hearing their views.
Thangam Debbonaire met with constituents at the Bristol Autism Spectrum Service (BASS) in the Create Centre on Friday (September 15) to gain a better understanding of existing issues in a bid to make the city more accessible for all.
Resident Loren Snow said the chance to sit down with his MP in an autism-friendly environment made a difference and allowed him to feel his views were valued.
“MP surgeries for autism are really useful because not everyone is able to communicate in the same way; it can be difficult to understand nuances of communication through email,” he said.
The MP for Bristol West is working with the support of the National Autistic Society to help create changes that could transform the lives of those on the autistic spectrum and plans to follow up on the issues raised on Friday.
Debbonaire said: “Making Bristol an autism-friendly city has been one of my priorities since I was first elected in 2015.
“Constituents tell me that many autistic people in Bristol, and their families, encounter barriers in accessing public services, receiving support in education, and in finding employment.
“I’m pleased to have worked with the National Autistic Society and BASS to arrange this surgery specifically for autistic people. I’m keen to help resolve problems where I can, having found out directly from autistic people in my constituency what changes they’d like me to argue for in parliament.”
The National Autistic Society’s Henry Barnes added: “This was a wonderful opportunity for autistic people in Bristol to have their voices heard. We are determined to raise awareness and understanding of autism in Bristol and by holding this surgery alongside Thangam Debbonaire, we hope to create positive changes for autistic people.”
BASS provides a range of services to adults on the autism spectrum, as well as professionals and carers who support them. People can access groups and one-to-one appointments for a range of needs, including problem solving, emotional support, employment support, benefits, housing and signposting, every Friday between 12.30pm and 4.30pm at the Create Centre.
Main image show Debbonaire with Snow (right) and Barnes (left)
Read more: Interview: Thangam Debbonaire