Earlier this year our South of Tyne Family Support team set up a youth club called 'Affinity' in Sunderland to support young people on the autism spectrum who attend mainstream secondary school. 

On Wednesday 24th April, the first 'Affinity Youth Club' session ran from 5:30 to 7:30pm. Affinity has ran every Wednesday since, with most term-time session based at our South of Tyne Family Support Centre in Sunderland. School holiday sessions are centred around community based activities.

The overall aim of the project was to fill a gap for young people for whom there is very little provision otherwise. Directed at those who had unsuccessfully attended mainstream youth clubs, or indeed were unable and are left feeling isolated and forgotten. It is designed by them, with them in mind to give these young people an opportunity to get together with their peers in a setting where they will feel comfortable and won’t be bullied or ostracised for being different.

There are currently 14 members aged between 11-16 with an even mix of boys and girls and all members attend mainstream, secondary schools in the local area.

During the first term of the club, members built friendships with our centre by playing team games as a larger group and by breaking out into smaller groups to do specific activities of their choice. The actives included: pool, table tennis, table football, Lego-building, board games, arts and crafts, football and tennis.

At the request of members we have set up a ‘tuck shop’ and during the first term, we had one outing to the bowling alley - which all thoroughly enjoyed. Over the 6 week summer holiday period, ‘Affinity’ have been to the cinema, enjoyed ‘snow tubing, went for an Italian evening meal and have visited the climbing wall.

Affinity Youth Group

Affinity Youth Group enjoying a meal

Recently, we asked members to comment on how they feel about ‘Affinity’:

I really enjoy Affinity, because it has given me the opportunity to make friend.

This is the best club I have ever been to, there is nothing negative or to improve.

Likewise, parental feedback has all been very positive - commenting how happy their children are attending and that this is the first club they have felt their child is fully understood and accepted.

We aim to ensure that all involved continue to grow in confidence and develop successful peer relationships and is vital that they are made to feel safe and valued when they are in attendance at our project.

Affinity Youth Group snow tubing

If you would like to find our more about Affinity Youth Group please call:

Aelene Burlinson on 07825604214 or email: [email protected]