autismA grassroots company that supports parents of children with autism to improve their mental wellbeing has received a £10,000 funding boost from the Big Lottery.

Coventry-based community interest company Hope 4 the Community has secured Awards for All Funding towards its autism self-management programme, Help to Overcome Problems Effectively (HOPE). 

HOPE was developed at Coventry University by health psychologist professor Andy Turner and research fellow Dave McHattie in collaboration with local parents and Hope 4 the Community directors Tina Malin, Wendy Dingley and Vicky Harker.

Since launching in 2009 the HOPE programme has already helped more than 250 parents and carers to put themselves first in order to provide the best support for their children. The programme is tailored to help individuals to develop tools and understanding in areas such as coping with stress, anger and behavioural issues – each of which is a significant part of living with autism. 

Research from Coventry University’s Centre for Technology Enabled Health has shown that after attending the course, parents’ mental wellbeing is greatly improved and they are less depressed and anxious. 

The Big Lottery Awards for All funding is set to help training of more parent facilitators to help the programme to be delivered in areas outside of Coventry. A web-based version of the HOPE programme, meaning parents across the UK can get involved, is also in development.

“There’s such a need in Coventry, people are crying out for help and support and the Hope Programme gives them that and a social network of people in the same situation,” said Malin.

“I was doing everything for my children and my nieces and nephews and any opportunity to thinking about me and my wellbeing and made me see what I was doing. Now I deliver the course I was inspired by. We are the HOPE family – it feels like a real community.”

Turner added: “The passion and commitment that Tina and Wendy bring to the programme are one of the reasons it has been so successful. 

“I’m born and bred locally, and did my undergraduate degree and PhD at Coventry University, and to be able to use my academic career to provide tangible benefits to parents within this city and beyond makes me hugely proud.”