North Devon's Alex shows the way for autistic people

North Devon Gazette

A Community Interest Company supporting autistic people to thrive is the creation of a former North Devon secondary school teacher.  Â

WayMakers was created during the pandemic by founder Alex Kelly, who has 20 years experience of working in education and running specialist provision for autistic learners. Â
Alex recognised the multiple barriers faced by neurodivergent people moving from school to employment, and beyond. Seeing an opportunity to create a set of services to help manage these challenges, WayMakers began in September 2020 to help autistic individuals, employers and the wider community. Â

Alex explained: “WayMakers is all about supporting autistic people to manage challenges, and giving others the tools to value and benefit from different thinking styles. I’ve worked with many young people, supporting them with change, anxiety and uncertainty, including significant transitions into the next phase of their education and into work. Â

“Therefore, I knew that I could put my toolkit of expertise, insights and strategies to good use to reach a wider number of people at all stages of their lives and giving society the opportunity to function at its best. Â

“As well as supporting autistic people from age 14+, we also work alongside the significant people in their lives, so that they too can help them to thrive; I feel strongly that this should be a joined-up approach. I believe that with greater understanding, society can lower - or even remove - many of the barriers that exist for neurodivergent people really easily, without placing the onus entirely on the individuals facing these barriers.” Â

To help promote this inclusivity, WayMakers is offering a series of workshops this March in North Devon, Torridge and West Devon. These workshops will help educate and support business and organisations in reaching out to neurodiverse customers, as well as welcoming them into their teams.   Â

“Only 22% of autistic adults are in some form of paid work,” said Alex. “I know we can do better and it’s neither expensive nor demanding to do so. There’s lots that can be done to promote a culture of inclusivity and diversity, so that neither the autistic individual nor employers miss out.” Â