West Cheshire Autism Hub publishes Focus Group Feedback

Back in November 2023 we hosted a focus group at Dial House so that our members could lead on developing our service.  We had a selection of responses to our online questionnaire and eight people attended in person to share their views.  The focus group was categorised into key areas/topics.  These were activities, seminars and resources, vision/influence and perception of our service.

The session was structured via a series of questions, with follow up questions and prompts  identified beforehand so that staff could guide and assist members.  Visuals to structure discussion were also placed on the tables.

After the focus group, key themes were identified and a summary of those and our responses is below.

More LGBTQ support.  We recognise the intersectionality between our community and the LGBTQ community and welcome this suggestion.  Our response: We are going to develop material in partnership with some members with lived experience.  We will also continue to be a visible presence at pride.

Our members would like to be more involved strategically. Activities like our ‘Pop In’ are more visible than our strategic work, resources etc.  Our response: We all discussed working with staff to create social media campaigns on important autism related issues.  One suggested topic to start with was a social media campaign on ‘hidden disabilities’, challenging myths etc. We are also going to share when our staff are involved in meetings to shape future services. E.g. All Age Autism Strategy Board, Under-served communities Mental Health Alliance. We will share this information in our next newsletter, and welcome expressions of interest from members who would like to be involved in this type of group.

Gaming activities were requested by several members with suggestions of discord servers, hub members visiting the gaming café etc. Our response: To develop further with members.  If this is a particular interest of yours and you would like to be involved in developing this, then please email autism.hub@dialwestcheshire.org.uk

The continuation of our Wednesday sessions was a common theme.  Several members requested LEGO for our pop in.  Watch this space for the addition of LEGO at our Pop In over the next few weeks.  Other additional activities at Pop In were some craft, journaling and book club. Our response: Purchase LEGO. Journaling resources have been planned with themes of wellbeing and promoting a positive autistic identity.  This will be feature at our Pop In over the next couple of months.

The return of autism specific webinars delivered by Karen. This was requested by several members.  Our response: We have numerous webinars already written and additional requested themes were: Monotropism, masking, how to deal with stress and difficult situations, friendships and relationships and female autism.

The first of these webinars will be on Monotropism and Flow: date : TBA

Guest speakers at drop in was requested on issues such as employment, heating, cost of living etc. Our response: We welcomed…. the CWaC Council Supported Employment team in March, we have CWP the first Wednesday of every month in 2024 talking about a different autism related theme, and we are liaising with other services to provide more in the coming months.

Christmas party was requested.  Our response: Jess organised a 2023 party with mince pies, Christmas craft and a fantastic Christmas themes quiz.  Everyone got a prize.  The questions were very hard though!

Database of resources. Some members were not aware of our database of resources that we use to signpost and support our members.  It was suggested after group discussion that resources could be on the  website so those who are able to access things themselves could do. Our response: We updated our website with lots of resources.  We will adding more in the future weeks and months so please feel welcome to utilise the database. https://westcheshireautismhub.org.uk/resources-new/

Not everyone can attend or access services during the day: Due to staffing capacity we are unable to provide evening activities.  Our response: To launch online self-directed learning. We have one course available now https://westcheshireautismhub.org.uk/training-courses/  and will be adding more in the coming months. To continue to signpost to other groups that have evening activities. Ongoing autism specific content on social media to promote feeling of virtual autistic community.

Instead of a phone line, Whatsapp, Messenger, email etc was requested: Our response: We are looking into the launch of Whatsapp as a means of contact.  Increase awareness of email, Messenger via Facebook/Instagram and other means of contact that already exist. Our email address is autism.hub@dialwestcheshire.org.uk. You can find us on Facebook , Instagram and X. You can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

When asked if they were aware of the West Cheshire Autism Hub’s aims and objectives: One of our members wrote:

Yes! To give the best service possible and they do!”