Ambitious about Autism has launched a new online platform for autistic young people that will provide a safe and moderated online space to help them understand their autistic identity and help reduce isolation and loneliness.
The Ambitious Youth Network will offer autistic young people aged 16 to 25 a platform to take part in peer support sessions, share experiences and find volunteering, work experience and employment opportunities. There will also be opportunities for them to work together and campaign for change.
The network has evolved from the work of Ambitious about Autism’s award-winning Youth Council: fifteen dynamic young autistic volunteers who have led impactful and award-winning campaigns, including mental health campaign Know Your Normal.
Demand surged during the pandemic with the number of young people registering for support increasing from around 50 to over 400.
A space where more autistic young people can have their voice heard
One young autistic person, who is part of the network, said “Before I joined I struggled to take part in group activities and was highly anxious to do so, now I feel much more confident and self-assured in a range of different situations. The network has had a very positive impact on my life because it has given me a strong sense of belonging, enjoyment and I don’t feel as isolated or lonely anymore”
Another added: “I’ve finally begun to understand my autism, and that has made me understand who I am, and develop my identity. I have found some friends too, and I feel I know what my interests are.”
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: “The pandemic left many autistic young people feeling more isolated and alone than ever before. We knew we had to take action and provide a space where more autistic young people can have their voice heard. With the launch of our new online platform we will be able to connect an ever-growing group of autistic young people from across the UK, helping them build supportive friendships and work together to create a more inclusive society.”
The Ambitious Youth Network has been supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the National Lottery Community Fund.
In the next three years Ambitious about Autism aims to support 5,000 autistic young people across the UK to access the Ambitious Youth Network.