In early 2017 Mi-Space’s team of Tenant Liaison Officers (TLO’s) reported that during the course of their work, they were encountering a significant increase in the number of residents advising that one or more of the occupants in the home having been diagnosed with Autism or a related condition. With the aim of better understanding this increasingly common condition, Mi-Space sought to find out more with a view to educating and training our workforce about the condition. We found there was little by way of opportunities to learn about Autism, and no information available on how to adjust working methods in the Social Housing Sector, in order to respond to the needs of residents with this diagnosis.

After a considerable amount of research, Mi-Space discovered a small start-up business called AutSiDe Education & Consultancy Limited in South Wales. After explaining our needs to AutSiDe, Mi-Space felt this provider of specialist advice on Autism was the perfect partner to analyse our working methods and prepare a training module for our workforce on how to better deliver our services in the homes of residents with this and other related conditions.

In order for Donna Sharland and Emma Durham of AutSiDe to understand Mi-Space’s activities in Social Housing, it was necessary to embed them in our workforce on several of our social housing projects in Wales. After visiting all of our active Welsh Projects, they were able to understand the true impact of repairs and upgrades in occupied premises on those residents with Autism.

Armed with this information, Donna & Emma set about preparing their ‘Autism in Social Housing’ training module, in consultation with Mi-Space, and ultimately created a unique and highly informative presentation on the subject. As the presentation evolved, Mi-Space realised that it would only be right to share the training opportunity with our supply chain and partners in the social housing sector.

Launching the first lecture at Liberty Stadium, Swansea on 29th March during National Autism Awareness Week Mi-Space in partnership with AutSiDe delivered their first lecture to Mi-Space staff and supply chain, representatives from Local Authorities and Housing Associations and members of National Government agencies and third sector parties. The success of this lecture led to the event being repeated in Merthyr Tydfil on the 3rd May and at the Offices of Wales and West Housing on 18th June.

The lecture provided each of the attendees with “a background understanding of what Autism is and how it impacts daily life, the ability to apply this knowledge to acknowledge potential barriers it may pose specifically in the Social Housing sector whilst identifying strategies for effective management and enable you to assist Autistic individuals and their families, whilst improving their living conditions and fulfilling their duty to Social Housing Associations.”

Autism in Social Housing – Outcomes and Achievements

“I recently attended the Autism in Social Housing training in Merthyr Tydfil delivered by Mi-Space in partnership with AutSiDe. The training was excellent and I would highly recommend it to other organisations. We were so impressed we hosted the next event at our Head Office in Cardiff which also received fantastic feedback from our staff.”

Carly Hodson, Head of People Development – Wales & West Housing

“As an experienced lecturer in the field of Autism, its rare to see private sector companies taking such active steps to respond to the needs of the non-neurotypical community, better still, sharing their knowledge openly. Additionally, Mi-Space’s commission of AutSiDe has enabled me to take my start up consultancy to the next level and to offer more training to a broader audience”.

Donna Sharland, Director of AutSiDe Education and Consultancy Ltd