Cabinet Member: Cabinet Member for Families, Health & Social Care, Councillor Janet Campbell and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learning, Councillor Alisa Flemming
Officer: Director of Operations – Health, Wellbeing & Adults, Annette McPartland
Key decision: yes
The Leader of the Council delegated authority to the Cabinet to make the following decisions:
1. Endorse and approve for publication the Autism Strategy.
2. Note the approvals either received, or pending, from other partner organisations in the strategy.
3. Agree that minor future amendments to the strategy can be made by the Director of Commissioning in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Families, Health and Social Care.
Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick noted that most people in attendance at the meeting were neuro-typical but that Croydon had a neuro-divergent community of around 10,000 residents. In development of the Strategy the council had listened to the voice of community in 2019 and undertook consultation in 2020.
It was stressed that it was extremely difficult for many within the neuro-divergent community to navigate the world created by neuro-typical people. That often led to neuro-divergent people living unnecessarily frustrated lives, suffering from unnecessary levels of physical and mental ill health and premature death. It was noted that training was an important theme within the Strategy as it was important that every neuro-typical person understood how to interact positively with neuro-divergent people.
Whilst Councillor Fitzpatrick stated that the Strategy was not world changing, he did stress that it was significant step in the upward journey of ensuring neuro-diversity in the mainstream agenda. Furthermore, it was noted that the development of the Strategy had been well received by the council’s health partners and all those who had been involved in its development were thanked; including Nicky Selwyn and Kevin Oakhill.
It was highlighted that the Strategy was an all-age strategy but it was noted that there was a need for a national strategy also, which incentivised employers to hire and retain neuro-divergent workers and supported the neuro-divergent to set up businesses.
The next step, it was stated, was to develop an action plan which ensured the objectives outlined with the Strategy were taken forward by and Councillor Fitzpatrick called for the responsibility for implementing the Strategy be with the Executive Leadership team within the council to ensure change occurred.
Nicky Selwyn, Chair of the Autism Partnership Board stated that she felt the Strategy was a game changer as previously the closest Croydon had been to having any strategy had been a draft version in 2012. It was noted that Croydon were fortunate to have an Autism Inclusion Lead (Kevin Oakhill) who had supported the development of the Strategy.
It was highlighted that there were active and committed partners from health, mental health and various agencies which it was hoped would be active participants in implementing the objectives set out in the Strategy.
It was noted by Nicky Selwyn that it had been really positive that the voice of the neuro-divergent community had been integral to the development of the Strategy, with over 500 responses having been received. Members were advised that a working group had been established with the support of Councillor Fitzpatrick and the Autism Inclusion Lead which it was felt represented the community.
Nicky Selwyn stressed that it was important that the Strategy did not just get filled after approval, but was developed into an action plan and a means of monitoring progress would be established.
The Leader of the Council (Councillor Hamida Ali) highlighted Councillor Fitzpatrick’s personal leadership in this area and welcomed the feedback on the partnership working which had taken place in the development of the Strategy.
The Cabinet ... view the full minutes text for item 87