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It was good to talk to people who want to listen” – Speak Out Essex hosts launch events for autistic people

18 September 2023

It was good to talk to people who want to listen to us” – that was the verdict from one autistic person attending a Speak Out Essex launch event.

Kim, a new Speak Out leader in Essex, was among those to attend the group’s first event in Saffron Walden – with similar events also held in Brentwood, Chelmsford, Colchester and Harlow.

Speak Out Essex is a voice for autistic people in the county, and is run by voice and rights charity VoiceAbility in partnership with Essex County Council and the Essex All-Age Autism Partnership Board. 

It’s made up of autistic people – both employees like Kim and volunteers – who raise issues that are important to them, supported by facilitators.

Speaking after the event, Speak Out leader Kim said: This has been a really great experience, so much better than I’d imagined.

It was good to talk to people who understand and want to listen to us.

Sam Geden, a community support worker for Essex County Council’s Local Linked Support Team, attended events in Chelmsford and Colchester.

Afterwards, Sam said: As an autistic person, I certainly shared a lot of views from my experiences, but it’s been heartening to hear others talk about their struggles and their triumphs, and what we as a public sector can do to fill in as many service gaps as possible.

I feel a lot more confident that we can all make a difference, and I think autistic people can now trust us to make things happen.

Parent Ron Harrison (furthest left) and community support worker Sam Geden (second from right) both attended the Speak Out Essex launch event in Colchester.

Parents and carers who support autistic people were also invited to the events to share their views. 

Parent Ron Harrison, who attended the Colchester session, said: It’s the first time that I’ve felt there might be a route through this.”

For anyone who has been unable to attend the events you can share your views by completing an online survey on the Speak Out Essex webpage.