The aim of the first National Autism Wales Conference “Promoting Autistic Wellbeing” held on 3 April in Swansea was to increase the wellbeing of autistic adults who are not necessarily in regular contact with public or third sector services but for whom an event about wellbeing and increasing their capacity to cope with day to day life would be a positive thing.
The Conference was coordinated by the National Autism Team, hosted by the Welsh Government Association and Public Health Wales. The approach to the Conference was to provide a variety of keynote addresses, workshops, exercises, tools and tips that would all help to promote emotional, physical and/or social wellbeing for autistic people aged 16+, and for those who care for them/ their guests.
The Conference was self-funded through a mixture of core sponsors and co-sponsors from Swansea University, the Swans Community Trust, the Ospreys Foundation, the Welsh Local Government Association, Public Health Wales (core sponsors) and Hacer Developments, the Autism Directory and Welsh Government’s Social Services and Health Directorate (co-sponsors).
Once a business plan had been agreed, the National Autism Team established a Conference Task and Finish Group to co-produce the event. The Group comprised x5 autistic individuals, x5 parent/carer representatives, x5 professionals and representatives of the National Autism Team. The Group met every 3 weeks for two hours in the 5 months leading to the Conference and was chaired by the National Strategic Lead for Autism. The Group informed and agreed the title of the Conference, its aims and themes and the detail of the workshops being offered. The Group also provided a fundamental role on the day of the Conference as part of the Welcome and Support team supporting delegates and ensuring the smooth running of the whole event.
The Conference had two autistic keynote speakers – Emma Durman and Jules Robertson, as well as Co-Chairs, Amara Tamblyn and Gerraint Jones-Griffiths. Vaughan Gething AM, the Minister for Health and Social Services also spoke in the morning and provided a scene setting to the event, while the afternoon plenary session had Cllr Huw David, Welsh Local Government Spokesperson for Health and Social Care providing some insight into the work of the National Autism Team and the planning of the Conference itself. The Conference gave autistic delegates the option of choosing two workshops in the morning and two 2 workshops in the afternoon from a list which focused on wellbeing.
The National Autism Team would particularly like to thank the speakers, the workshop leads and autism leads and Integrated Autism Service staff who contributed to making the Conference such a success. Above all, the Conference Task and Finish Group which gave up many hours of their time to assist in the genuine co production of such a successful event. We would like to thank the delegates themselves, both autistic delegates, their guests and the professionals who supported the Conference and provided such valuable feedback.
Many positive comments were received by individuals who attended the Conference as members of the Welcome and Support Team, the Speakers, and the Workshop leads. These comments, alongside the feedback received from the autistic delegates who attended, and their guests are a testament to the overarching success of the Conference.
An Evaluation Report will be included in this section of the web site when it has been completed, reviewed and endorsed by the Conference Task and Finish Group. We will use the Evaluation Report to inform future events.