South Shields arts venue set for autism-friendly overhaul

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Young people are set to lead the way in the revamp of a South Tyneside arts venue to make it more autism friendly.

Group AutismAble has secured £10,000 in funding from the SITA Trust to buy materials to transform the Customs Space in Captains Row, South Shields.

In addition, The Foyer Trust Federation will deliver the on ground support to help the revamp.

The project will be led by young people aged between 16-25, who are keen to make the venue more autism friendly.

Stage one of the improvements has already been carried out to upgrade features in the main hall, including the installation of blackout blinds, dimmer lighting, touch screen iPad technology and walls painted in neutral colours.

Stage two of the transformation will involve a sensory garden.

Sarah Farrell, of AutismAble, said: “The project has helped the young people improve team building, communication and organisational skills whilst giving them a real sense of achievement.

“Our open evening was well-attended and everyone commented on what a great group of learners we had.”

The evening was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith and his wife Coun Moira Smith.

Coun Smith said: “This is great news and a fantastic investment in an already much-loved and well-used facility in the borough.

“I am particularly excited to hear that those with autism will reap the benefits of the modifications to this facility.”

Pete Sessions, of SITA Trust, said: “It’s really exciting to see young people taking such an active role in leading projects that enhance their communities.

“Our aim in creating this programme was to tap into their creativity, vision, ambition and drive.

“The young people have been instrumental in designing,fundraising for and delivering this project, and they should be incredibly proud of their achievements.”

John Percival, of the Foyer Federation, said: “This programme aims to tackle issues facing the region, such as youth unemployment, community cohesion, quality of parks and green spaces, trust in young people, influence in decision making, and general community ‘satisfaction’.

“This project shows the advantages of projects to bring young people from different backgrounds and cultures together to provide them with skills, knowledge and support they needed to work together to address urban space related needs in their communities.”

For details on AutismAble, visit www.autismable.com or facebook page www.facebook.com/autismable, email info@autismable.com or call 07935 071 850.