HUNDREDS of council staff in a wide range of roles have undergone pioneering training as part of a campaign to make a North-East town the most autism-friendly place in Britain.
Around 200 employees from Darlington Borough Council took part in training delivered by the North East Autism Society (NEAS).
Earlier this year, Darlington launched an ambitious bid to become to most autism-friendly town in the UK, with dozens of organisations committing to staff training and making adjustments to improve the lives of those with autism and other neurodiverse conditions.
Darlington Borough Council has now led the way with staff across diverse disciplines attending training sessions.
Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “Staff taking part in this training now have a better understanding of autism.
“It will hopefully help them to pick up on the indicators that a person may be becoming anxious and know what they could do to help in that moment.
“About 200 of our staff have taken part in these one-hour sessions. There has been a very high level of engagement, which is encouraging.
“I am proud that the council and NEAS are leading the way towards making Darlington one of the most autism-friendly places in the UK.
“These training sessions are the latest step in that journey, and I would encourage other organisations in Darlington to contact NEAS and arrange similar training for their staff, customers or clients.”
She added that the council is to appoint a group to champion children and adults with autism.
The training was delivered at the Town Hall and Eastbourne Sports Complex, with staff keen to have a better understanding of neurodiverse conditions, including autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, dyscalculia.
Dawn Wise, training manager for NEAS, said: “What is happening in Darlington, with engagement from so many different organisations, is wonderful to see, and it’s really important that the council is setting an example so early in the campaign.”
The team from NEAS also included Charlotte Bentley, Craig Richardson, and Emma Christine, who are learning and development trainers.
Jonathan Raiseborough, from Darlington, also talked about his life with autism and how he has become a professional illustrator.