National Autistic Society - Minutes of Annual General Meeting 2016

Date: Wednesday 13th July 2016     Venue: Christ Church, Woking

Present:  Emma Whitfield, Haywood Drake, Sara Truman, Rachel Pearson, Sarah Mead, Stella Drake

and approx 6 others.

Apologies for absence: Eileen Bruce, Sarah Mason, Emma Searle

Minutes of last AGM – accepted.  No matters arising.

 Branch officer’s report.  Emma Whitfield presented her report covering the branch's activities for the year. 

Branch Officer’s election:  Emma Whitfield was the only person to stand for election as Branch Officer. Her appointment was proposed by Rachel Pearson and seconded by Avril O’Brien.

 Annual Accounts:  The branch accounts were presented, which showed that during 2014/15 the branch had a surplus for the year of 1,014.95.  The total balance the branch held at the start of the year was £25,381.44 and the balance as of 5th April 2016 was £26,746.49. There were unpresented cheques to a value of £350.10.

 Treasurer’s election:  Haywood Drake was the only person to stand for election as treasurer. He was nominated by Emma Whitfield and seconded by Sara Truman.
Any Other Business: Sara Truman thanked Emma Whitfield for her work as Branch officer. The speaker was Tom Madders, Head of Campaigns & Community Engagement at the NAS who spoke about the new ‘Too Much Information’ campaign and showed us a virtual reality film designed to improve understanding of what it can feel like to be on the spectrum for some children.



Over 1500 people in and around Surrey receive our newsletter and over 800 people belong to our moderated online forum. Key activities in the past year have included:

Local Support Groups
Local support group meetings – these continue to evolve and grow. Huge thanks go to our hosts: Chertsey - Eileen Bruce, Cranleigh/Ewhurst - Lucy Tosh, Guildford - Sara Truman, Frensham - Christine Malik and Bonnie Noyce, Haslemere - Fiona Ringwood, Hinchley Wood - Juliette Sturge, Milford - Sue Briggs, Redhill - Helen Ruffhead and Woking - Sarah Norris.
The Parents of Girls group continues to meet in Woking and Guildford and to host social activities for girls and their parents. Thanks go to Rachel Pearson for all her work.
Parents of adults groups meet regularly in Farnham, Guildford, Camberley, Weybridge and Reigate. Thanks to Hilary Dyce and Sara Truman for organising these.
The Dads’ group continues to meet about once a quarter in members’ homes or local pubs and runs a dedicated email forum. Thanks to Martin Trenaman for keeping this going.
Our evening pub meet in Weybridge is going well. Thanks to Fi Phippen for taking on running it.

Christmas Party - this was well-attended in 2015 – thanks again to Santa, Matthew Searle
Ice skating in Guildford, held jointly with interAKtive, was back up to previous levels with over 130 attendees.
Bowling – we used Pine Ridge Bowl in Frimley for our last bowling event which enabled families to have a very relaxing and enjoyable afternoon.
Teen event - we introduced a new event this year with an outing to the ice-skating for teens. It is the first time we have run an event where parents could leave young people as we employed the services of two excellent support workers from Role Models. 

Thanks go in particular to Sarah Mead who manages bookings for all events.  We are now using Eventbrite online booking which, whilst incurring a cost, makes events easier to book and manage.

Branch Talks
Thanks go to the speakers for our talks in Woking, Guildford and Redhill over the past year, who give up their own time, often at the end of long working days: Dr Alex Carlisle on managing behaviour, Clare Percival of East Surrey Carers’ Support on carer personal development, Dean Beadle for the funniest talk ever at our last AGM, Amanda Hitchcock from Surrey CC on home education, Angela Wheeler on the role of OT for children with ASDs, Tom Moore for facilitating a consultation for the national Adult Autism Strategy, Wendy Jenkins from Core Assets on EHCPs and Fran Morgan and Andrea Collings from Family Voice, along with Gaby Close from Surrey CC on the new Joint Autism Strategy.

Parent speakers
We have received more invitations than ever to attend parents’ groups, schools, events, conferences and workshops and are keen to recruit more parents to help with these. Particular thanks go to Sarah Mason for her talks in schools and her ‘funny dance’!

Branch Conference 2015
Over 200 parents and professionals came to our 2015 conference ‘Anxiety and Anger in Autism: What Really Helps’ in October 2015. There was a stellar line-up of speakers led by Dr Wenn Lawson and Dr Raja Mukherjee. Thanks once again go to Sara Truman for organising and ably marshalling troops of volunteers and helpers. She is running our information day on autism in Women & Girls in October 2016.

Parent representation
Sara Truman continues her membership of the Autism Partnership Board and Emma Whitfield is part of the taskforce for the Surrey Joint Autism Strategy Group. We also provided parent feedback ahead of the re-commissioning of CAMHS, which was re-launched in April 2016 as Mindsight Surrey CAMHS.

Parent workshops
Cygnet Parent Programmes - we have continued to host two-day Cygnet parent programmes, with courses in Dorking, Redhill / Reigate and Guildford in the past year. There will be another programme in September 2016 in Leatherhead. Thanks go to trainer Liz Waters.
Supporting your Young Person into Employment – we were very pleased to have been able to be involved with AS Mentoring in the development of these valuable courses for parents of young people over 16 and have hosted a total of three courses so far around the county.

Donations and fundraising
We have continued to receive donations from our very generous membership. Donors are too numerous to mention, but we would like to offer particular thanks to the incredible Pearce family – Jo, who organised a fundraising ball, raising over £2,500 and Laura, Tom and friends who raised almost £1,000 by Tom shaving off his hair in aid of the Branch. Also thanks to The Eleanor Creeke settlement, Horley Lions and Hayley Willoughby and friends for completing a Onesie Walk on a particularly chilly day.

Branch Committee

Thanks as ever go our very hard-working and knowledgeable committee:
Emma Whitfield           Chair
Haywood Drake            Treasurer / W Surrey Librarian
Sara Truman               Deputy Chair / Adult Issues
Sarah Mead                 Event bookings
Rachel Pearson           Parents of girls / employment issues
Eileen Bruce               Mental Health
Emma Searle              Events and residential education
Sarah Mason               Fundraising and event bookings
Jill Goulding                Events calendar

Our thanks go to other key volunteers including:
Nancy Rowell for continuing as membership secretary
Stella Drake for providing teas and coffees at Guildford and Woking
Hilary Dyce for acting as reporter for several meetings

Thanks also go to Helena Bateman and Alessia Mitchell our branch support team at NAS head office.

Our East Surrey librarian, Jenny Lawson, retired this year after six years and, as we were not able to find a replacement volunteer, we had reluctantly decided to sell off our two libraries of around 400 books. We are delighted to confirm that member Susan Salter has very kindly agreed to run an online library, providing books by post. More details will appear in the August newsletter.

We once again sponsored the ‘Undiscovered Workforce’ Award awarded by EmployAbility which recognised Kingston University and their employee, Joseph Cross, who works in the canteen.

We were thrilled to be chosen by NAS head office as the runner-up in the National Autistic Society Staff & Volunteer awards for 2016 from 130 branches.

Emma Whitfield, Branch Officer, NAS Surrey Branch

13th July 2016