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My name is George Smith and, on 10 December 2019, I was elected to Chair the Board of Trustees of Autism East Midlands.

A good number of years ago, I was asked by a very good friend, who was a senior administrator at NORSACA (our predecessor organisation), if I would be interested in joining the Council of Management of the charity. She knew that I had a close relative who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome but also that I had management and governance experience through my previous employment. At that time, the Council was looking to build its membership and my skills and experience fitted the bill. I agree to give it a go!

In the intervening years, much progress has been made across the organisation, not least with its refreshed image, change of name and expansion of provision. Charities, generally, have encountered difficulties relating to changing political and economic climates, but Autism East Midlands have been able to address their provision, rationalise and improve their estate and introduce new services to support families across an expanded geographic area.

We remain proud to be able to work alongside many families across our expanded region through our increasing number of Family Support Hubs and to support them through our new respite care facility.

In these changing times, there remain many issues for us to encounter and address, not least the need to raise the awareness of autism across the employment sector and improve the life chances of those that we are here to support.
I am grateful for the confidence shown in me by my fellow Trustees in electing me to lead the Trust Board. I will endeavour, over my time in office, to support our excellent and dedicated staff team in achieving our stated vision – A world which recognises, understands and values autistic people, and where their families receive the services and support they need throughout their lives.

Finally, I would like to thank and pay tribute to my predecessor as Chair, Keith Doble, who, over more years than, I’m sure, he cares to remember, has dedicated thousands of hours into ensuring that the vision which was the foundation of this charity over fifty years ago has been maintained and advanced. He will be a tough act to follow, but I will do my best.