Volunteers at a west Cumbrian charity are going above and beyond for people with autism and their families, despite the challenges of lockdown.

Autism Support Allerdale and Copeland are keeping in touch with the families of people with autism, offering resources and virtual activities while their base at Moorclose Community Centre is closed.

Chairman Shirley Murphy who has worked in the field of disabilities for 40 years said: “We’ve probably come out of this better than ever, it’s just a shame that it took something as bad as this for us to shine.”

The charity have released Sunflower Lanyards to identify children with autism while the nation deals with the Covid-19 pandemic. The lanyards act as an explanation to the public and police officers if it appears that a family are not following social distancing guidelines.

Shirley: “We’ve posted out 500, it’s even gone national. We’ve had people saying ‘we’ve got our life back, we can go outside.’”

“We’ve been sending out certificates of achievement.”

Families of children with autism can order the certificates and award them to their child for being patient during lockdown, progressing in their schooling or challenging themselves like trying a new food.

The certificates congratulate children for “staying home, staying safe and making us smile.”

Children were also given the chance to nominate their sibling for a medal. Shirley added that the motivation behind it was to give siblings a chance to shine as their role in supporting children with autism is sometimes overlooked.

Resources for children and their families on the charity’s website include competitions and a daily video displaying exotic animals.

Shirley said: “They love it because a lot of our kids don’t get to go to the zoo.”

The charity has been operating since 2013, it was founded by Shirley and a group of fellow parents of children with autism who felt that there was a lack of provision for them in the area.

As well as offering support to children with autism, the charity raises awareness for the challenges their families face.

Prior to the coronavirus lockdown, Autism Awareness Allerdale and Copeland held a monthly meeting for parents at the Moorclose headquarters. They also regular clubs including Aukids, for ages five and under every Thursday and Ausome Youth Club for ages 10 to 18 at Distington Club for Young People every Wednesday.

To keep up to date with the charity, visit: https://www.asaac.uk/ or the Autism Support Allerdale and Copeland Facebook page.