ALAG started off as an offshoot of Autism London, formerly the North East London Autistic Society (NELAS) based in Walthamstow. This organisation was set up in the late eighties to offer support and advice to those on the autistic spectrum and their carers, as there was little provision for this at the time.
In 1996, due to increased demand, NELAS became London-wide changing its name to Autism London. Two years later the main office moved to Islington and by then the members of staff had increased from the original two to five enabling the society to widen its net accordingly. During this period several regional support groups were started for parents as well as a scheme known as ‘Propeller’ which was involved in the development of workshops for children on the spectrum.
In February 2002, the support and social group known as ALAG was formed for adults on the autistic spectrum without a learning disability. The group was launched as a result of numerous requests from Autism London members and their carers desperately looking for adult support. The group started off small with just a few members meeting in a small room at the Autism London offices.
In 2003, Autism London became a subsidiary of mcch, a Kent based organisation running homes for those with Learning Disabilities. In 2006, mcch moved the Autism London office to Woodford Bridge for a short time before returning to Islington where it was located in the Aberdeen Centre in Highbury. During this time, ALAG began to grow and become well known across London, however, the premises in Highbury had to close in 2011 as the building was earmarked for redevelopment.
In 2011, ALAG moved to Kentish Town and settled comfortably in the Voluntary Action Camden building for three years from where it ran workshops and training sessions as well as the monthly support group facilitated by Ethney Anderson. During this time, ALAG was funded to run a ‘Skills for Work’ project helping members to gain employability skills, and a Peer Support project, funded by the Arsenal Foundation.
On the invitation of an Islington commissioner, ALAG moved back to Islington where it continued to thrive and develop new services to support its growing membership. It was during this period that a planning committee was formed, chaired by Desmond Meldrum, to plan social events for the group.
In August 2014, ALAG became independent and achieved registered charitable status in February 2015. Since this time ALAG has influenced the setting up of other autism groups across London, attracted a range of funding to develop its services; working with Autism Partnership Boards ensuring that our members voices are heard; co-producing autism awareness training and most importantly, running a support service for our members.
In January 2018, ALAG volunteers and two social workers from the autism project in Islington joined forces to establish a new service – the Autism Hub. More details on the Hub services can be found on their website.
We are grateful for the work of our dedicated volunteers whose selfless efforts have contributed greatly to the success of our work. Without them, ALAG would not be the organisation it is today.
ALAG is at present seeking further funding in order to expand its services and run more peer-led employability projects for its members.
If you would like further information, please send us a message via our contact form.