In 2009 Polly Tommey was approached by Gordon Brown to represent The Autism Trust within the External Reference Group (ERG). This followed a meeting with the Prime Minister as a result of The Autism Trust’s "Dear Gordon Brown" charity billboard campaign. Polly was part of the ERG that helped formulate "The strategy for adults with autism in England (2010)."
Since then, Sarah Brown became actively involved and recently organized a breakfast meeting at 10 Downing Street to bring together autism organizations from all over the country to discuss both the strategy and how best to move it forward.
Having read the aforementioned strategy, Polly was encouraged by the amount of work and effort that Phil Hope and the Department of Health had undertaken. "They have acknowledged the desperate situation and lack of support that adults with autism in this country are living with. They have also acknowledged the increased demand for facilities, services and provision, and have accepted the need for greater social awareness towards autism in this country."
A new autism program board has been established to lead change in public services. £500,000 will be invested in developmental training within health, social care, and professional bodies; it will address training for job center disability employment advisors to work for those with autism to help them to be able to work, and it will champion improved diagnosis.
Polly comments, "In all, the strategy is hugely important and a crucial milestone. It is as the Department of Health said when presenting it – ‘a start’. And a very good one."
Last year, following the campaign, Polly announced on national television that everybody could take part in formulating this plan; no one was left out of the strategy. It was announced via a direct email address to the Department of Health so that everyone who wanted could get involved. Polly says, "Yes, there is room for improvement; and, yes, we have to look at all levels of autism, but this is a significant step forward."
Polly concludes, “The responses of Gordon and Sarah Brown, Phil Hope and the Department of Health have been impressive. They are listening, acknowledging, and, above all, acting on behalf of adults with autism in the UK today.”
Polly‘s work continues with the new campaign in the lead up to Autism Awareness Month in April.
Polly Tommey is a mother dealing with autism. She is founder and editor-in-chief of The Autism File and has been producing what is now the leading retail magazine on autism in the UK, USA & Canada (with a current issue circulation of over 50,000 copies) from her family’s home in Hampton, West London since 1999. Polly is also founder of The Autism Trust, a UK registered charity focused on creating a future with purpose for children everywhere with autism.
Polly’s recent achievements include meeting Gordon Brown at Downing Street in April last year following her headline grabbing “Dear Gordon Brown…” billboard campaign. The meeting was instrumental in the government’s move towards helping those with autism. Polly returned to Downing Street in December to meet with Sarah Brown and other figureheads of the autism community. In 2009 she hosted The International Autism Conference 2009, supported by the Department of Health, which succeeded in its aim in bringing together people from across the diverse world of autism. Her efforts in the world of autism have gained her nominations for both Barclays’ "Woman of the Year" and Red magazine’s "Red’s Hot Woman of the Year" awards as well as a nomination for BSME’s "Campaign of The Year."
Polly is regarded as one of the leading figures in autism in the UK, as a campaigning and influential journalist, and a sector expert in the media. Polly presents regular radio programs including Autism Issues From Around the World on Autism One Radio; she is secretary of the Autism Human Rights & Discrimination Initiative; and she is a frequent attendee and speaker at conferences worldwide. She is married to Jonathan Tommey who runs The Autism Clinic, and they have three children, one of whom has autism.
The Autism Trust
The Autism Trust recognizes the immense gap that exists between the demand for and availability of existing residential and professional support options once children with autism leave supported education through the world.
The goal of the charity is to provide this support through the development of a network of consistently outstanding and innovative outreach centers for autism worldwide. We consider it essential that each of these Centers of Excellence not only provides help and support to individuals with autism but also to their families and those involved with their care, support, ongoing education and development.
Autism in the UK:
Autism affects over half a million people and is the cause of often overwhelming stress for families of those with autism. This is not a passing matter; autism numbers have increased dramatically in the last twenty years from 5 in 10,000 in 1989 to more than 1 in a 100 (100 in 10,000) today. Something needs to be done to reduce the effects felt by people coping with autism.
The UK government has taken a major step forward in responding to the challenge ….