Offering state-of-the-art facilities and a therapeutic farm, North East-based Daisy Chain’s mission is to support and empower autistic and neurodivergent individuals regionally and nationwide – the charity changes over 5,000 lives every year.
Studies show that 1 in 100 people in the UK are autistic, but this figure is thought to be much higher as research continues to develop. Working from a person-centered approach, Daisy Chain recognises that every neurodivergent individual has their own strengths, differences and needs, and their own unique story.
In the last 12 months, the organisation has gone from strength to strength, from refreshing its branding and launching new services to opening one of the largest charity megastores in the UK, bringing Autism’s Got Talent to the North East and training more businesses and organisations than ever before. Everything Daisy Chain does is about creating opportunities for every kind of mind, and striving to make the world a fairer, more inclusive place.
Such an innovative range of services doesn’t come without a cost – the cost-of-living crisis has bumped up the annual running costs by around £200,000. Demand is unprecedented, particularly for complex cases and adult support.
CEO Neeraj Sharma says there are many ways the business community can show its support for Daisy Chain and in turn, reap benefits of their own by bolstering their workforce: “Autistic adults have the highest unemployment than any other disability group, yet our employability team has some of the best outcomes when it comes to supporting people into work.
“This group of people have many aspirations and huge amounts of talent but are being locked out of opportunities. This shouldn’t be the norm – we need to address the barriers they’re facing. At Daisy Chain, we work with the neurodivergent person and the employer to get the best outcomes.”
He added: “We’re always hugely grateful when businesses choose us as their Charity of the Year, as Silk Family Law has.
“However, if you’re not able to commit in this way, there are so many different ways you can work with us. For example, you could offer a work placement or host an industry tour.”
Diverse income streams are important to the charity which has recently expanded its award-winning retail arm by opening 23,000 sq ft Daisy Chain Megastore on Team Valley Retail Park in Gateshead, standing shoulder to shoulder with retail giants like TK Maxx and M&S.
With sustainability high on Daisy Chain’s agenda, the organisation is also committed to the advancement of slow fashion by launching its own clothing brand, Neuthread. As pioneers of the project, the team is creating high-end apparel from unusable, donated materials and textiles, reducing carbon emissions, and saving water, energy, and chemicals, resulting in less pollution.
Neeraj said: “Twenty years ago, we were established as a community initiative supporting autistic children and families. We’ve grown so much, and we continue to innovate and develop as the world changes around us, and in line with beneficiary need.
“We are a very diverse and incredibly exciting charity in terms of what we’re achieving and the recognition we’re getting at every level.
“If you think you know Daisy Chain, think again. Get in touch, find out how you can get involved and together we can create a world that is more inclusive and accepting for every kind of mind.”
To find out more about the charity, visit www.daisychainproject.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can get involved. The current service offering is inclusive of social clubs, respite care, wellbeing, independent living skills, employability and animal therapy.