Fire service funds autism project in Rotherham

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The lives of people with autism and learning difficulties will be made safer thanks to an education project funded by South Yorkshire fire service.

Speakup Self Advocacy, in Rotherham, has been awarded £58,000 from the fire service’s Stronger Safer Communities fund.

The organisation has been working with Government departments and national organisations for 25 years to develop information and training which is suitable for people with learning difficulties and autism.

The money will be used to deliver training sessions, workbooks, DVDs and other educational resources.

The two year project aims to help people with learning difficulties to live more independent lives, by improving their understanding of issues including kitchen fire safety, escape routes and what to do in an emergency.

People with learning difficulties or autism will also be recruited and trained as ‘fire safety champions’, to share information with other vulnerable people in South Yorkshire.

Speakup’s principal officer, Geoff Doncaster, said: “A lot of people with learning disabilities have either no reading skills or struggle greatly with written information.

“The project will help people with learning disabilities by producing information and training which is accessible to them, and ultimately protects them against the hazards of fire.”

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s vulnerable persons advocate, Hussain Ibrahim, said: “There’s a definite gap currently in the quality of information public services offer to people with autism and learning difficulties.

“By working with an organisation which specializes in delivering education and information to these vulnerable groups, this project gives us a real opportunity to change that.”

Dozens of charities, community organisations and partner agencies applied for grants from the £2 million the Stronger Safer Communities fund.