The Local Area Co-ordinators

The Local Area Co-ordinators (LACs) provide support to people in East Dunbartonshire who are over 14 years old and have a diagnosis of autism and/or learning disability. They use an asset-based approach to identify what your personal goals are, and help you overcome any barriers in working towards them.

Some main areas that the LAC’s can offer you support with include:

  • Signposting to local organisations and supports if there is anything you want more information about
  • Introducing you to social or activity groups to meet new people
  • Communicating with schools, employers, health professionals etc. if you need extra support explaining your needs
  • Finding volunteering experience
  • Linking with local employment agencies to find paid employment

They also run a monthly parent and carer forum for those who have a caring responsibility for someone on the autistic spectrum (currently online on Microsoft Teams) – this is not just for those 14+ and is open to any age, or stage of diagnosis. 

To receive 1:1 support from the team, they require you to fill in an ‘introductions form’ (below), these can be filled in by anyone (teachers, social workers, health professionals, from the family, self-referral etc.) Please fill in as much information as you can so the team can understand what you are looking for before they make initial introductions. 

If you would like some more information about what the team can offer, or to discuss a potential introduction, please email – LACs@eastdunbarton.gov.uk

(in addition, if you are pursuing or thinking about pursuing an autism diagnosis and would like some more information or support, please feel free to get in touch with the team).

View further information below.

EDC parents and carers forum

The Local Area Co-ordinators host a monthly group for those in the area who have a caring responsibility for someone on the autism spectrum.

A key focus of the group is peer support – the opportunity to meet other local people who can share experience and insights. There are also opportunities to hear from invited speakers about local organisations and initiatives which are available, and to provide feedback into the council’s autism strategy.

Although the LAC service is for those with a diagnosis aged 14+, this group is open to families who are at any stage of the diagnosis process, and all ages.

Due to pandemic restrictions the group have been meeting virtually over Microsoft Teams but hope to start their in-person meetings at their offices in Kirkintilloch later this year.

The meetings are usually on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, 6-8pm.

Up and coming dates:

  • 8th June
  • 13th July
  • 10th August
  • 14th September
  • 12th October
  • 9th November

Please contact the Local Area Co-ordinators if you would like to be added to the mailing list to be informed of future meetings, or if you would like to represent your organisation as a guest speaker.

LACs@eastdunbarton.gov.uk

Key Additional Suport Needs services in EDC

Where can I go in East Dunbartonshire for advice or support for someone with additional support needs?
 

What do you need support with?

Where to go

What they do

Where to find them

Overcoming difficulties achieving goals and feeling more included in the community

Local Area
Co-ordinators

Support people (with Autism and/or learning disabilities over 14 years old) to fulfil their ambitions such as finding employment, preparing for further study, increasing social networks and building independence

0141 578 2142

LACs@eastdunbarton.gov.uk

 

Additional struggles with mental health

EDAMH (East Dunbartonshire Association for Mental Health)

Offer 1:1 recovery-focussed support to people experiencing ill mental health for up to 6 months (must be over 18 years old and without a learning disability)

edamh Website

 

0141 955 3040

Advocacy

Ceartas

Provide independent advocacy on issues including communicating with social work, guardianship, accessing extra support for education or employment and PIP assessments, among many other things 

ceartas website

0141 775 0433

Advice and help applying for disability benefits

Citizens Advice Bureau

Advice on a range of topics including financial, legal and healthcare issues. CAB within East Dunbartonshire also have a dedicated service to help understand and apply for disability benefits.

edcab website  

0141 557 3220

Support for carers

Carers Link

Provide support to carers within EDC by offering 1:1 support, information, advocacy, courses, groups and overall listening to your needs to support you within your caring role.

carers link website

0800 975 2131

Questions about ASN supports within education

Autism Advisors

Every school within East Dunbartonshire has trained Autism Advisors. They receive a range of Autism-specific training and are there to promote inclusivity and positive experiences for Autistic pupils.

Contact school and ask to speak to one of the Autism advisors (if unable to make contact, call the Local Area Co-ordinators)

Advice for options after school

Skills Development Scotland

Provide assistance creating a CV as well as advising on which jobs are most suitable to apply for and signposting for employment support

Google search ‘East Dunbartonshire Skills Development Scotland’

 

0141 777 5860

Support preparing for, or finding employment

No One Left Behind

Role within EDC specifically to support those with an ASN to find employment opportunities (age 16-24)

Chelbie.donnoghue@eastdunbarton.gov.uk

Fair Start

All age support to prepare for and find suitable employment for anyone facing barriers to finding work (delivered through the Lennox Partnership)

start Scotland website 

or Mary.mccaig@thelennoxpartnership.org

Finding volunteering experience

EDVA (East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action)

Assisting people within EDC to find positive volunteering opportunities, and providing ongoing support throughout.  

Edva website

 

0141 578 6680

Dealing with recovery

GRACE

A peer led organisation for adults that are dealing with some kind of recovery (mental health, loneliness, bereavement etc). They offer advice and support, activities and educational courses across EDC

grace after care website

Facebook search ‘G.R.A.C.E.’

Finding local activity groups

EDC website

A list of local social and activity groups for those with an ASN

Additional support needs activity groups

Social work support

EDC social work advice and response team

Guidance on what social work services are available, and to request a social work assessment

0141 777 3000

This resource was created by EDC’s Local Area Co-ordinators, if you have any suggestions for how it could be updated or changed then please give us a call on 0141 578 2142 or email LACs@eastdunbarton.gov.uk 

The Spectrum Film Club

East Dunbartonshire’s inclusive cinema night for people on the autism spectrum (and associated conditions) at Kilmardinny house in Bearsden

Additional Support Needs Activity Groups

On this page is a list of some activity and social groups within East Dunbartonshire for individuals with Additional Support Needs.

2022 summary

There are now 5 Local Area Co-ordinators in East Dunbartonshire covering 4 posts; George Burt, Hannah Murray, Ashleigh Grant-Ng, Heather McFadyen and Ailsa MacNab.
We work with individuals from the age of 14 upwards who have a diagnosis of a mild learning disability and/or a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum.

Clients

  • Current active caseload = 112
  • New referrals in 2021 = 41
  • New referrals in 2022 = 80
  • Currently on waiting list = 13

In addition to the 1:1 work, LACs will often have to sign-post individuals and families to other opportunities and services. Emails, telephone calls or conversations at events may be light-touch but will regularly form part of the week’s work. [accordion collapsed]

New LAC’s

In March 2022, 2 new LAC’s started within the team on a temporary basis until 2024, their role is to focus on employment however the role has developed as the year has gone on. Although the focus is on employment some individuals are further away from that goal so we will work with them to build confidence, attend social groups, volunteer, complete training or college course so they can build up their skills to achieve the end goal of employment. We also support parents with a disability to reach a positive destination - this can be by gaining new employment, attending social group, volunteering, studying, and training or to gain a promoted post in the employment they are already in.

We work alongside No One Left Behind (NOLB), Enable and other local employability schemes who will support our individuals to search and apply for jobs. As part of our role we will continue to provide in support work, working with employers to attend review meetings, helping support with reasonable adjustments and support with applications to external agencies such as Access to Work. We support the individuals to make sure they understand the expectations, explaining ‘work jargon’ in a way they will understand and ensuring they feel supported in the work place.

This year we dropped off flyers to local businesses to offer our support if/when the employer hires someone autistic or with a learning disability. We can provide funding support, autism at work training, review the role and make reasonable adjustments. We have had little response from the flyer drop so work will continue in 2023 to develop working with employers within East Dunbartonshire.

Work with schools

At the beginning of 2022, each secondary school was allocated one member of the team to be the key LAC contact for their school. This enabled us to engage more closely with the key teachers within the school and have more of a presence for both staff and pupils. We have attended TAC meetings, autism-specific PSG’s, parents evenings and guidance teacher meetings. As a result, there is now much more of an awareness through teaching staff about the LAC team and what our service can offer, as well as more referrals for 1:1 client work (particularly for those preparing for transition) and more introductions to parents for parental support or accessing our parent and carer forum.

Funding

Table showing the breakdown of funding received in 2022:

 

£2, 280

National Lottery communities fund

Start-up costs and funds to cover the monthly film distribution costs for the Spectrum Film Club

 

 

£700

EDC Communtiy grants

At-home arts and crafts activities and healthy cooking packs for members of the women’s group

 

£2, 650

EDC Communities health and wellbeing fund

Re-engaging with the women’s group in-person activities every month

 

 

£9, 320

 

EDC Communities health and wellbeing fund

 

Costs to support the gardening group to run throughout the year and work towards developing a social enterprise

£14, 950

 

 

Social groups

  • The Women’s Group:

Throughout the majority of 2022 the women’s group were unable to meet in person so continued to carry out their monthly activities at home. They were provided with arts and crafts packs to complete in their own time, sharing their creations with each other in their online group chat. They were also provided with ingredients and recipes to make a healthy fruit and yogurt pot independently at home, something which many of the members have re-made for their families. In the summer months we partnered with Aye Can Dae activities to run some aerobics sessions for the women in Kirkintilloch. 
In October, the group was able to formally meet up again in person and had a movie night together in Kirkintilloch. This was followed by an evening of making Christmas cards in late November, then a trip to the Bishopbriggs panto together in December. The group is currently planning what activities they would like to do throughout 2023.

party bagswomens social group

  • Sounds of the Gallery Band

guitarist playingIn September 2022 the band began regular rehearsals again. During the pandemic some members of the band met for regular online meetings using MS Teams. During this time, the band members who attended made plans for a recording session and began work on writing LISTEN TO THE BELLS, a Christmas single for 2023.

Following the long layoff, we thought it was important to begin with re-establishing the confidence-building and working-together skills that may have been neglected or damaged by the enforced isolation of the lockdowns. The band also began working on three new songs, and a massive “story-with-music” about a rogue polar-bear.

The band benefited from meeting in the downstairs space of St Ninians parochial hall in Union Street. This improves access for people with mobility and sensory issues, but it is more expensive. This space is also popular with other community groups, and clashes in timing can sometimes mean last –minute changes to the band’s schedule.

Between September and December the band met for 12 full rehearsals on Wednesday afternoons. Most people were able to use public transport or were supported by family members or personal assistants. Only one band member had real difficulty on a few occasions. We finished this batch of sessions with a gig at the Lillie Art Gallery on Saturday 10th of December to an audience of family, friends and acquaintances. All the new songs were performed successfully, and the audience joined in with the chorus of the new Christmas song.

                band playing

  • New Roots Gardening Club

The New Roots Gardening Club relaunched at the end of 2021 and has had a full year of running since the pandemic started. The group has welcomed back six of its existing group members as well as an additional six members from across the authority. The group is moving towards becoming a limited company by guarantee, led by one of the Tutors Callum Christie. The group have recently applied for a start-up Grant from First Port, and have sought additional funding from The Communities Health and Wellbeing Fund, as well as The National Lottery. The group secured a bigger site in Twechar and

next year the group’s ambition is to offer more sessions at its main site in Twechar to operate a business model that will allow the group to generate an income. In addition, the group will be providing a weekly satellite group in Milngavie, working between the new Allander Day Centre and the beds outside of the library and community centre. One of the big success of this year has been the group members having more of a say in deciding what the group dos and how it operates. The group now has one member that attends planning meetings and each group members has a role and responsibility. A group member has also been discharged from the community health team and sites this group as helping overcome some of the challenges he has had with his mental health.

roots gardening club

  • MAGSS  (Manga, Anime, Gaming and Sci-Fi Society)

MAGSS was re-launched again in February 2022 after a break over the pandemic. They meet once a month at the William Patrick Library in Kirkintilloch and discuss their shared interests and hobbies. The group consists of current LAC clients, as well as new local autistic residents who were previously unknown to the team. The group recently asked if they could meet more regularly as they didn’t feel as though once a month was enough, so in 2023 they are looking forward to meeting twice a month instead. They are planning on creating a recommendation list to share with the public to showcase their interests and hope to take a trip to a Comic-Con event next year.

Magss group

  • Spectrum Film Club

The Spectrum Film Club launched in January 2022, beginning with a private pilot screening for the committee who had been instrumental in developing the group through their online meetings during the pandemic. The pilot was an opportunity to gather feedback from the committee about their experience and determine whether any changes were needed before opening the group to the public. The first public screening was then launched in February, continuing once a month throughout the year. Information about each screening is shared on the EDC website  and through the monthly ASN newsletter. One of the regular attendees writes an opening speech which he delivers before each screening to introduce the film to the audience, and audience discussion is encouraged after the film. In September one of the LAC team was invited to be a guest speaker at Film Hub Scotland’s ‘Young Audiences Forum’, delivering training on supporting neurodiverse audiences at the cinema, using the Spectrum Film Club as an example of good practice.

cinema nightspectrum logo

Other LAC projects

  • Parent and carer forum

The purpose of the parent and carer forum is to bring together this cohort of people to offer peer support and increase their knowledge and awareness around what is available to them and autistic people across East Dunbartonshire regardless of age or stage of diagnosis. This year the Parent and Carer Forum ran from February – November, with the team managing two in person sessions at Kelvinbank Resource Centre. It has been agreed that the group will alternate online and in-person sessions to accommodate the needs of parents and carers. The sessions welcomed speakers from Carer’s Link, Educational Psychology and Social Security Scotland to increase parent and carer knowledge and awareness as to what services are available to them locally. Numbers have ranged from 3-10 attendees at each session, with a high proportion of first timers attending each meeting.

In addition, the team have worked with Creatovators to put on more tailored parent, carer and autistic person sessions, titled, “You are not Alone” which again has further peer support to our autism community. Numbers for these sessions have surpassed expectation welcoming around 25-35 people in per session, with 8 sessions over the year and 293 people on the mailing list.

  • Festival of Celebration throughout 2022

In 2020, East Dunbartonshire Council were awarded £9,585 from Creative Scotland to run another ‘Festival of Celebration’ – a local arts festival showcasing the creative talents of EDC residents with a diagnosis of autism, learning disability or mental health considerations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was postponed and it was agreed that the safest way to re-launch would be to run smaller events throughout the whole of 2022 rather than over one busy weekend. We arranged for a variety of different creative opportunities to run throughout the year to engage as many people as possible, and still achieving our initial aims while ensuring the safety of the public throughout.

Events included:
- Running a pilot of the ‘You Are Not Alone’ information sessions in partnership with Creatovators
- The first public launch of the Spectrum Film Club
- An art exhibition of local autistic artists who created pieces reflecting on their experiences during the pandemic
- ASN-specific drama sessions run in partnership with Creative Spark Theatre Arts, resulting in an end of year panto created by the group
- Re-launching the Sounds of the Gallery band, supporting them to cover costs of rehearsals and putting on a performance at the Lillie Art Gallery

  • Positive Pathways

Positive pathways was created after our employment project ‘We Connect’ ended. We Connect was run in partnership with No One Left Behind and focussed on employability skills e.g. CV building and application forms. Heather & Ailsa felt this support needed to continue but felt the social side of meeting in person was also important. Therefore we created 9 employability focussed workshops with a different topic each month. The workshops are based in Milngavie and Kirkintilloch. We run sessions monthly and have regular attendees however the group is open to new people. These workshops are to support our clients to become closer to reaching their positive destination. So far we have covered barriers to employment, the benefits of volunteering, CV building, applications, how to search for a job and now a confidence taster session. These sessions have allowed our clients to create a CV and feel more confident applying for jobs and going for interviews.

  • ASN newsletter

The ASN newsletter was developed in May 2022, it was created to pull all the activities and updates in the local area in to one monthly news update. This was to reduce the amount of emails being sent to our parent and carer’s each week and to provide information to external organisations to share with their clients.

The newsletter has been well received, we aim to send the newsletter out around the middle of the month and it includes activities, research and news updates from our groups. Each month that we have sent out the newsletter we have received emails from external agencies, parents & carers requesting new parents & carers to be added to our mailing list.

  • Housing

We have been working closely with the council’s housing department to increase knowledge and resources for staff supporting local autistic residents. Following on from the autism awareness training that we provided last year, we are now in the process of developing a resource pack to benefit both staff and members of the public. The content of the resources was specially requested from members in the housing team, reflecting on some of the communication difficulties that can often arise when liaising with autistic service users about the requirements of them living in a council-owned property. The booklet will have resources for staff to aid them in their understanding of supporting people on the autism spectrum, as well as having resources for autistic residents to aid them to communicate their needs and any challenges that they experience.

  • EDLC

We are in the process of developing a range of access guides for all EDC leisure centres, Hubs and libraries. These resources will be available online for those with additional support considerations to view before attending the venues in the hopes of them feeling more prepared to visit, and alleviating any anxieties that they might be experiencing. They will be able to access a walkthrough video of the venue, a step-by-step tour with photographs (which can be printed), floor plans of the layouts and common FAQ’s.

  • Autism training

The team delivered autism awareness training to approximately 98 people this year through a number of different teams and groups including: Kelvinbank staff, Outlook staff, Community liaison officers, local sports groups, Young Leaders within schools, CLD partnership team and through regular training sessions for the Skills for Life, Learning and Work team. This training was carried out both through online sessions over MS teams, and also in-person.

Here is some feedback which we received from the training so far:
 

‘I really enjoyed how the session covered a range of topics. As someone who is new to working in my field, I feel this was ideal. The trainer was extremely open and encouraged everyone’s views and understandings of different aspects of Autism Awareness. This helped me share my basic understanding without feeling I should know more than I do’.

‘I enjoyed the mix of presentation and interaction/involvement in the session. This meant that it was informative but also enjoyable, and Hannah was knowledgeable and friendly when delivering the session and discussing with us’.

‘I will likely be able to be more understanding when I meet and speak with different people in the community, and more able to recognise traits possibly specific to Autistic persons’.
 

  • Partnership Working

The team have been working hard to create working relationships across the public and third sector this year.  This has led to new partnership’s being formed with the likes of Gavin’s Mill in Milngavie and East Dunbartonshire Initiative for Creative Therapy (EDICT). The LAC team have and will continue to support the new hospitality course that has been set up and run by Gavin’s Mill with the view of supporting those who have completed the course to find further paid or voluntary opportunities. With regards to EDICT, the team have been included in a funding application to help with the set-up and progression of their new Study Hub, which will provide a safe space for EDICT members who are still at school or further education to be able to study and possibly pursue art courses with support from tutors. In addition, following on from the success of the ASN-specific drama sessions which were funded through the Festival of Celebration, we are now working closely with Creative Spark Theatre Arts to try and secure funding to run more sessions in the future.

Strategic groups update:

  1. Autism strategy group:

The group is made up of professionals from across the HSCP, Education and planning and commissioning. The purpose of the group is to further the work of the autism strategy and to ensure that East Dunbartonshire has autism friendly communities and good pathways during transition times. At present the group meet every 8 weeks and feedback on the good working that is happening across different teams and in partnership.

  1. Pre and post diagnosis subgroup:

The pre and post diagnosis subgroup was set up to map out and create clear outcomes with regards to support for parents, carers and autistic individuals throughout their diagnostic journey. The group is made up of HSCP staff across numerous teams as well as representation from Carer’s Link, parents and carers and other third sector providers. The group have met every 6-8 weeks and completed their mapping exercise earlier in the year and have developed two clear outcomes for the group to work towards:

  • Creating a resource for both professionals, autistic people and their families which outlines clearly the different routes into the children’s and adults diagnostic pathways
    • This includes referral forms and screening tools for professionals
  • Create clear pathways to support both pre and post diagnosis
    • This includes support from formal and informal services

At present, work is being undertaken to develop these resources with several members of the group. The group is next due to meet early March to look at the resources that have been developed and the next steps will be to work with the communications team with regards to how we get these packs out for the public and referring agencies.

  1. Autism Community group:

The autism community group met online over MS teams once a month throughout the year. A different topic was identified for each meeting to help guide discussion and gather feedback on a range of local issues. The members were invited to share their personal experiences and opinions on each of the subjects which would then be fed-back into the wider autism strategy. Some of the topics that were discussed included: housing, transport, education, employment and preferred terminology about autism. The group also provided feedback on drafts of the access guides created for EDLC to ensure that we represented views of the ASD community.

autism community group

  1. CLD strategy group:

There is LAC representation on the Community Learning and Development Strategy group. The purpose of the group in 2022 was to create a new 3 year CLD plan outlining the priorities for CLD from 2022-2025. This has now been approved by council and the strategic outcome for LAC staff will be to monitor the number of people who join in and are introduced to community learning opportunities, this will also include the numbers introduced to activities for parents and carers. LACs also represent the CLD workforce development group and recently provided frontline CLD staff with autism awareness training.