A Birmingham-based charity has launched its largest-ever fund-raising campaign to support people with autism.
The autism.west midlands charity has set itself the target of raising £3 million over the next three years to fund local projects to help people with autism spectrum disorders and their families.
The money raised will be put towards a range of projects – both large and small – across the West Midlands.
The Edgbaston -based charity, which was launched in 1988, aims to improve the quality of life for people with autistic spectrum disorders and their families by raising awareness of the condition and making provision for the individual needs of autism sufferers.
It is the largest provider of autism-specific services for children and adults in the West Midlands region.
Autism is a lifelong condition which has a profound impact not only on those affected, but on those around them. It is believed to affect one in a 100 people.
Services currently run by the charity include a school for residential and day pupils, employment support for adults with Asperger Syndrome, family support, an information help-line, and the provision of training for staff, parents and professionals.
It also runs seven residential homes across the region which care for adults with a range of autism disorders. The homes are in Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Droitwich.
The charity hopes the new money raised will make it possible to expand its services even further and help more people with autism.
Chief executive Carolyn Bailey said: "As the principal provider of autism-specific services for children and adults, our funding stream plays a constant and vital role in all we do.
Much of our current work is funded through residential services we provide, but there is much more that we want and need to do.
She added part of the process would be to quickly set up a fund-raising committee and to appoint a chairman to spearhead the drive to raise the money.
"We provide a comprehensive range of family support, employment outreach services and high quality training for staff, parents and professionals," said Ms Bailey.
"Such a high level of provision costs money. We have intentions to grow and enhance what we do, so a fund-raising committee will help us deliver that through events and innovative ideas.
"We want to do much more in the community and it is only through a concerted effort to raise funds that we are going to be able to do so."
She added the appointment of an inspirational chairman would be a very important decision for the charity. And she added: "We rely on the goodwill and effort of a network of people; we are now in the process of generating a fresh wave of support to help us reach what is an ambitious target."
Events held to raise money in the past include charity balls, auctions, golf days, and sponsored walks and runs.n To find out more about autism.west midlands, or if you want to help with fund-raising activities, contact: 0121 450 7582.