Autism champion in line for council gong
Burton Mail 30/1/13 Written by BY HELEN KREFT
A SOUTH Derbyshire councillor is up for a prestigious national award which could mean a £10,000 bursary for the whole district.
Councillor Ann Watson, who lives in Bretby and represents Aston on South Derbyshire District Council, said she is ‘thrilled’ to be shortlisted for the LGiU and CCLA C’llr Achievement Awards 2013.
She is up for The Bruce-Lockhart Member Scholarship against two councillors from London and one from Birmingham. The winner of this category will be awarded a £10,000 bursary to complete a project to promote the case for localism and government at a local level.
Councillor Watson would use the money to create a feasibility study into how different sectors such as the county and district councils, education sectors, charities and organisations can work together to help those with learning disabilities.
Councillor Watson, who came into politics in 2010, is already an ambassador for The Autistic Society, and has a daughter with autism.
She said: “I have always championed rights of people with learning disabilities so I am thrilled to have been shortlisted. I want to change the way services are delivered to increase their chances of getting work and independent living.
“There are so many adults lacking basic skills, such as putting on clean clothes, getting on the bus, turning up for work, cook for themselves, and ironing, and there are lots of little pockets of support from authorities and charities, but very often they are blocked by policy and funding.
“We need to tip that on its head and we need to pull together and talk to the different people we are trying to help and how we apply these ideas to people.”
The councillor is hoping to set up a Life Skills Academy which includes the councils, charities and the education sector to enable them to work without the constraints of policy or funding.
She said: “I want to bring all silos together and see if we can co-produce a solution. The award will allow me to facilitate a feasibility study of getting all these people together in one room. And ask what can you do with our money to deliver what you need to give people to allow them to work, and give them basic life skills?”
“With the Localism Bill, so many more powers and responsibilities now gives local government an opportunity to look at their situation in their areas and come up with new models of service delivery.”
Councillor Watson is now preparing a presentation for judgement.