A PIONEERING North-East autism charity has unveiled a flurry of festive fun for its annual Christmas campaign and is calling on people across the region to get involved.

The North East Autism Society (NEAS) launched the “All I Want for Christmas” campaign to promote autism acceptance and raise much-needed funds to support its vital front-line services.

Kevin Meikle, NEAS’s fundraising manager, said: “After a tough year, we’re so excited to be launching our annual Christmas campaign.

“Our aim this year is to shine a light on the wants and needs of autistic individuals and their families, and focus on how we can all do better, together.

“We’re hoping that people, as well as schools and businesses, will get involved and ultimately help us to continue delivering lifeline services for autistic children, young people and adults across the North-East.”

The first big event on the calendar is a special Christmas Fair, held at the Society’s ground-breaking New Warlands Farm bespoke training centre, near Durham, on Saturday, November 27. A variety of handicrafts, food, and drink will be on offer – many made by the Farm’s young people and adults.

Event details may change due to Covid-19 restrictions, so visitors are advised to check www.ne-as.org.uk/Event/christmasmarket2021 for up-to-date information.

Shortly after, the first-ever NEAS Great Christmas Bake Off will take place on Friday, December 3. The North-East’s best amateur bakers can go head-to-head (and bread-to-bread) by setting up a stall to sell tasty treats in aid of NEAS.

A special Christmas Baking resource pack is also available from NEAS, full of cake toppers, special recipes, and decorations that can be used to make stalls look amazing, and prizes will be awarded for the most mouth-watering morsels.

The popular NEAS Jolly Jumper Day will also make a triumphant return on Friday, December 10, with television presenter Pam Royle leading the charge and encouraging people to don their best (or worst) Noël knitwear in aid of the Chester-le-Street-based charity.

For anyone lacking a suitably fashionable Christmas jumper, NEAS is also selling its limited-edition Christmas t-shirts, featuring Santa’s sleigh leaving the gold neurodiversity infinity logo in its wake. Shirts (and matching woolly bobble-hats) can be found on the charity’s website.

North-East schools and businesses can also get involved. NEAS staff will be visiting organisations throughout the season to help educate pupils and employees about autism, including how they can support classmates and colleagues who have, or are going though, a diagnosis.

It’s even possible to join in the fun from the comfort of your own home thanks to a variety of autism-friendly games, quizzes, online resources, and more, which NEAS is making available online.

To find out more about the North East Autism Society’s All I Want for Christmas campaign, or to join in the fun, visit www.ne-as.org.uk/countdowntochristmas or call 0191 410 9974.