Driven by a need to find a suitable space for their children to learn and grow, the founding families of the North East Autism Society pioneered new ways of nurturing children with autism spectrum conditions, more than 35 years ago.

Since then the Society has grown and diversified but its commitment to the rights of children has never lessened, with our schools and residential homes consistently being recognised for the highest standards of care and education.

This week was no exception as Belford (children’s residential home) retained its Investing in Children Membership Award.

Celebrating examples of imaginative practice with children and young people the IiC award is seen to be a measure of best practice for those organisations and agencies charged with the care and education of children.

Yet this award is particularly important to the staff of NEAS because the assessment is not just about facilities and standards – it also listens to the children themselves.

Sharon Robinson, manager of Belford, said:

We’re really pleased. It’s obviously good to be recognised for the work we do but this one is especially important to us because part of the assessment is based on what the children have to say. It’s great to know they feel like we’re doing a good job for them too.

And while Belford has retained its membership following an initial assessment 12 months ago, all the NEAS children’s homes are also members.
Head of Care, Brian Stoker said:

Although this isn’t something we MUST do, membership of Investing in Children is incredibly important to us. Everything we do is motivated by asking ‘what’s best for this person’ and so no two people in our care will have the same experience or the same provision. However, every child, young person or adult should have their needs and wants at the centre of their education and care and should be granted the same rights as any other human being. To be recognised as a provider who does just that is fantastic.

The renewal news comes just weeks after Wallingford home received an outstanding Ofsted report, showing the Society’s commitment to excellence.

IiC Project Worker, Chris Affleck, said:

The time I spent with the young people and the staff at Belford House was very calm and relaxed and like the previous evaluation it was evident that the young people living at Belford House were very comfortable in the house and with the staff there.

Having also spoken to one of the children who was able to verbally communicate and after time with the other young people and staff, he added:

Based on the discussions and the evidence provided by Belford House, in addition to the observations and interaction with the young people I have no hesitation in recommending that Belford House once again received the Investing in Children Membership Award™.