Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has visited Essex to mark the start of a campaign to raise funds towards a specialist autism service.
The new service, spearheaded by the national learning disabilities charity, Hft, will provide a specialist environment specifically for young adults with complex needs and on the autistic spectrum, who are moving out of assessment and treatment centres to more independent living in the community.
The royal visit today (Wednesday 27 November), marked the launch of the fundraising campaign which will be used to part-fund the build for the specialist service.
Everything about the development has been carefully designed to meet the sensory needs of people with autism, to keep them safe, and minimise their anxiety.
The new service, which has been designed in consultation with people with autism and those who support them, will incorporate a range of personalised technology to support people to live as safely and independently as possible.
Staff working at the service will also be given specialist training to support people with complex needs and autism to learn essential life skills that will help them build their independence.
The Princess Royal, who is a dedicated Hft Patron, spent time at a reception, attended by more than 90 people, at Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers in Stansted Mountfitchet to find out more about the project. This included being shown a video walk through of the development which would consist of six homes which each have bespoke sensory environments.
At the event Hft Chairman Baroness Judith Jolly talked about Hft’s experience in supporting people with complex needs and autism and the local need for this type of specialist service. Keith May, Divisional Director for Hft, provided more information about the development, as well as discussing the future local impact of the project.
Her Royal Highness spent time meeting guests, which included Hft trustees, family members, patrons and local dignitaries, as well as the project’s architects and consultants and prospective donors, trusts and foundations.
Vanessa Edwards, Hft’s Director of Fundraising said: “We were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and share our plans for this essential specialist service.
“There are too many young adults living in environments unsuited to their needs. Through this project we are creating purpose-built homes and a supported living service where people can gain some independence and have the freedom to make choices about how they want to live.
“Today’s royal visit marks the start of our campaign to raise the remaining funds for the build which will help us open the door for young people with autism to live the life they choose.”
For further information about the development or to donate to The Orchard Project appeal please visit www.hft.org.uk/theorchard