Famous North East landmarks will light up the skies this April as they go gold in support of World Autism Acceptance Day.

Organised annually by the North East Autism Society (NEAS) since 2019, bridges, lighthouses, and other landmark sites from Whitley Bay to Stockton-on-Tees will be illuminated in golden light on Tuesday 2 April.

The display is part of the ongoing campaign to increase the public’s understanding of autism, and the acceptance of autistic people across society.

John Phillipson, CEO at NEAS, said: 

This is the sixth year we have campaigned for Autism Acceptance, and it is always fantastic to see local authorities across the region come together to support our message.

Venues going gold in support of Autism Acceptance include:

  • Sunderland: Northern Spire Bridge, Penshaw Monument, Keel Square, Market Square, Seaburn Lighthouse, Fulwell Mill and Hylton Castle – 2nd to 7th April 
  • Newcastle: Tyne Bridge, Civic Centre – 2nd April
  • Gateshead: Gateshead Millennium Bridge - 2nd April
  • Darlington: Clock Tower - 2nd April
  • Stockton:  Stockton High Street fountains and columns, Stockton Town Hall and Infinity Bridge
  • Middlesbrough: Newport Bridge - 2nd April
  • North Tyneside: St Mary’s Lighthouse and Killingworth Block A

Last year, the charity launched its Everyday Equality campaign, tackling the obstacles faced by autistic people in daily life, covering topics such as access to healthcare, education, travel, and financial services.

John said:

Our focus is now on employment. Only three-in-ten autistic adults are in work, and we must take positive action to improve this by providing the resources and information organisations need to spread autism acceptance in the workplace.

"A vast majority of autistic people want to work, and any organisation that makes adjustments to allow them to do so will soon find it benefits all their employees."

Autism Acceptance Week also kicks off a summer full of fundraising activities that anyone can get involved with.

The annual Walk for Acceptance will return to Herrington Country Park later in the year, and more seasoned walkers can sign up to take part in a 20-mile trek over the Cleveland Way on 11 May.

Fundraisers who are interested in taking on a challenge on two-wheels can sign up for the Society’s two-day coast-to-coast cycling challenge from 24-25 August.

The charity has also created free resource packs for businesses and schools who want to support Autism Acceptance Week, including activities, lesson plans, and information to help organisations be more inclusive. To download the packs, anyone interested simply needs to register on the North East Autism Society website.

For more information, or to register for a resource pack, visit: www.ne-as.org.uk/listing/category/autism-acceptance2024