ABP Minutes - 20 June 2023

Autism Partnership Board Meeting

Time: 10am to 12.00pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams Virtual Meeting/Sovereign Harbour Yacht Club, Eastbourne

Chair: Samantha Williams, Assistant Director, Strategy, Commissioning and Supply Management

1. Welcome, Introductions and Apologies

Samantha welcomed everyone to the meeting, introductions were made, and apologies noted.

2. Agree minutes from previous meeting

The minutes from the meeting held on 14 March 2023 were reviewed and accepted as an accurate record of discussions.

3. Actions from previous meeting

It was agreed that action 11 would be closed. Further information recorded as below:

ACTION: If anyone has any further questions regarding action 11, email APB@eastsussex.gov.uk

ACTION 12: Terms of Reference to be added as an agenda item to next meeting

ACTION: During the March meeting a presentation was given regarding the Neurodevelopmental Pathway. A question was raised regarding the backlog of referrals locally. This to be added as an agenda on next meeting.

4. Feedback from World Autism Acceptance Week (27th March – 2nd April)

Aspens Roebuck

A PowerPoint presentation was shared.

An Open Day held at Roebuck Enterprises (Hastings) on Wednesday 29 March. Other local support organisation was invited, these included Boathouse Theatre Arts, Tree of Hope, Little Gate Farm & ISEND.

During the week there were shared stories from autistic people as well as support, information and resources about autism shared across social media and website. Quotes from service users were shared.
It was mentioned the carer story that was promoted that shows what it is like to be a care to someone with autism (AD story), however, not so much other reference to carers, however this is an important part of autism acceptance and what it means to the whole family. https://your.eastsussex.gov.uk/2023/03/29/celebrating-world-autism-acceptance-week/

Little Gate Farm

Little Gate Farm did a variety of social media posts from the work trainees who have autism, talking about their experiences with employment and employers.

The main event was held on the Sunday. We hosted an autism acceptance walk along the sea front in Hastings and we invited lots of other organisations to come and walk with us.

Individuals from Project Artworks, Aspens Roebuck, Little Gate Farm and the charity Amaze joined us.

There were about 80 people.

A marquee was used to host workshops for people to come and find out a bit more information.

We have people who have autism come and do the walk, but we also have people who didn't, who were just interested in what we were doing. Along the sea front there were Little Gate Farm gates with QR codes for individuals to join in the quiz about Autism.

Really good feedback has been received.

We had families coming and asking questions about support services that were available in East Sussex, so we thought that it was a successful day.


The presentation slides were discussed, which were distributed with the papers for the meeting.

Key points below:

  • Internal communications.
    The communication theme was around employment.
    Thank you given to individuals for providing case studies.
    Two key communication messages on yammer (internal social media):
    General information including why the week is important. 1342 views, with conversations and engagement from colleagues and thanking us for the signposting. The case studies received 3183 views.
    Increased uptake of the ESCC autism training offer.
    5 staff members requested group coaching of which feedback has been positive.
  • CLASS communications. Schools were provided ideas and resources. Social media posts reached up to 1013 people with an engagement rate between 5.23% and 7.77%.
  • External communications.
    ASC provider bulletin was viewed by 2626 people and the autism-related links opened by 32 users.
    You East Sussex (YES) online newsletter shared case studies. Article received 46 page views.
    Social media posts sharing Aspens, Amaze and BBC content. Engagement rate between 1.4% and 4.4%
  • Autism Acceptance Week now forms part of the ESCC Equalities, Diversity, Inclusion communications calendar going forward.

Question was asked on whether there was anything more that could be done to promote the training to staff.

In relation to communication, there is the opportunity to look at having the information available for everyone in advance as there are barriers to be able to book time to attend training.

Mention given regarding the communication that will be produced for yammer.

ACTION: Meeting to be arranged to discuss yammer article

Breakout room 1 (virtual)
Carers perspective – to build on this for next year.

Breakout room 2 (Virtual)
Agreed that all events this year were great, but maybe expand more broadly next year. Talk about services for young autistic men in Eastbourne (Eastbourne Asperger’s Support Group) and other similar organisations available along with other connections and links with what is happening out in the community.

Breakout room 3 (Virtual)
Three main areas discussed, extending to elsewhere in the county, concurrent diagnosis of autism and ADHD and the prevalence of autism and the transgender community.

Breakout room 4 (Sovereign)
Awareness around workplace adjustments.

ACTION: It was agreed that it would be beneficial to start networking beforehand (around 3 months) to share ideas, outside of the Autism Partnership Board meeting. This to be noted and organised for 2024.

5. Update on Oliver McGowan Training

The presentation slides which were distributed with the papers for the meeting were discussed.

Key points as below:

  • 849 registrations (481 in March)
  • 718 completions (388 in March)
  • Code of Practice expected in Autumn 2023 which will inform any changes needed to current provision

6. Commissioning of Community Mental Health services

The presentation slides which were distributed with the papers for the meeting were discussed.

Key points as below:

  • Recommissioning of Community Mental Health Services in East Sussex. This includes wellbeing centres, crisis cafes, employment advisors, complex emotional needs, and homelessness.
  • Current finance budget is around £4.5 million.
  • Wellbeing centres – 924 individuals supported 22/23 of those 65 people with autism.
  • Staying Well (crisis cafes in Eastbourne & Hastings) – 766 individuals supported 22/23 of those 58 people with autism.
  • Community Connectors (social prescribing service) – 495 individuals supported 22/23 of those 53 people with autism.
  • IPS Employment Support – 1210 individuals support 22/23 of those 82 people with autism.
  • Thinking Well (Complex emotional needs) – 68 individuals supported 22/23. Number of people with autism is unknown.
  • Seaview (Project in St Leonards) – 636 individuals supported 22 /23. Number of people with autism is unknown.

Ask of the Autism Partnership Board – discussion on what could/should be included when setting out the requirements for supporting people with autism and their mental health.

Further information requested relating to the physical support people with autism require to be signposted onto different services. Confirmation given that this was specific to the mental health element, not directly specific to autism, but includes individuals accessing the services with autism with low mental health.

It was mentioned that there is a three-month waiting list between referral and receiving services. Is there going to be further investment? Confirmation that further funding will be available to address this. When services are redeveloped, roles will be looked at to more resilient and attractive.

ACTION: meeting to be set up to discuss ideas.

ACTION: if anyone has any thoughts or questions, or would like to be involved in exploring these issues, please email apb@eastsussex.go.uk 

7. Any Other Business

Autism Project and Engagement Manager

Thanks was given to those who were involved within the process. Candidate is currently going through the relevant processes and employment checks, with the hope of joining us later in the Summer.

Terms of Reference

To be brought to next meeting so that they can be signed off.

Police contact

Confirmation of the police contact was given.
Learning Disability Week
Information shared relating to Learning Disability Week https://www.mencap.org.uk/LDWeek

8. The next meeting is to be held on Tuesday 19 September 2023.