Space4Autism was founded back in 2005 when John McKellar, along with Crossroads held a public meeting to see if there was a demand for a social skill club for children who had an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC).
Around 40 parent/carers turned up, and at the end of the meeting, John asked if anyone would like to help start a monthly support group? Cheryl Simpson put her hand up along with Kay and a chap called Colin from Blackpool, and the seed was sown.
Cheryl immediately got busy phoning round all the local pubs in Macclesfield to see if they would give the merry throng a room for free once a month. Karen at The Boar Hound in Macclesfield agreed we could have the room upstairs once a month for free on a Monday evening.
Cheryl came up with the name SPACE – which backwards is the 1st letters for East Cheshire Autism Parent Support – Now changed to Space4Autism and we are now one of the largest charities in Cheshire East.
The 1st few years only a handful of parents came along, but it was evident that this group was so needed.
In 2011 a lady called Ann from the council approached the group and asked if we had thought of setting up a social club as she knew of some funding from Aiming High for Disabled Children. We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for, but the trustees wrote out a bid, and we were successful in gaining funding to run a fortnightly group for 12 children called Space for Kids – this is still going today.
We ran Space for Kids in St Paul’s Church hall taking toys, snacks and the kitchen sink with us every two weeks – not an easy task I can tell you. So in 2013, we decided to try and find a home of our own. John McKellar stepped in once again as his wife had a large room in her offices in Macclesfield that we could use.
So we moved into Association house in 2013, and the room looked huge, there was lots of painting to be done, but we got there in the end.
Having our own premises meant we could expand on the activities we were already providing, and we set up another group for the youths and were able to run workshops for parent/carers.
Within two years we had outgrown Association House so needed to look for another home!! In 2015 we made our 2nd move into Lowe Street. Again the premises looked huge, but we didn’t need to paint this time (thank goodness).
Having bigger premises meant we could expand even more, so we set up yet another social club, this time for adults taking our social clubs to 3 and were able to open two days a week for people to drop in and speak to some of the professionals. We were even able to hold workshops on behalf of CWP NHS Foundation Trust, including the Cygnet Course.
In 2017 the downstairs of Lowe St was turned into a gym which wasn’t very conducive to our clubs or members so once again we were on the hunt for new premises, but this time we wanted to go bigger than ever as we had some big plans in mind.
Initially, we went to see the old Bayley’s Toy Shop, but there was too much work to be done to make it into our 3rd home, but across the road, we saw the Old Aspect Furniture shop was up for rent. The rent wanted was a lot more than we had anticipated, but we thought let’s go and have a peep.
We moved to Mill Lane in October 2017 and to say there was a lot of work to do was an understatement. One side of the building was the old Bluebell public house which was more or less derelict, but with the help of our amazing trustees and members, we were able to move in over one weekend and open our doors on Monday morning!!
We now work in partnership with CWP NHS Foundation Trust who are now housed with us for assessment and diagnosis for ASC for children and adults. Big Life Talking therapies are also based with us. Adelaide School hire a classroom for those children who find school difficult. We work closely with Social Services, SEND teams, DWP and many other services so our members can access these services directly in our Space Centre rather than having to go to them. We have worked in collaboration with Cheshire Commisioning Group (CCG) to deliver a full ASC Training Programme and also commissioned by Cheshire East Council to offer Short Breaks – the rest as they say – is History…