10th June this year saw a record turnout of more than 30 MPs, Peers, and Ministers for the annual general meeting (AGM) of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA). Functional meetings of this kind usually only attract five or six Parliamentarians.

The APPGA brings together MPs and Peers from all parties to campaign in Parliament for greater awareness of autism and to lobby the Government for improved services for people on the spectrum and their families and carers.

It is a testament to all the work of our supporters, in the run-up to the General Election, in meeting and sharing their experiences with their parliamentary candidates, as part of our I’m One campaign, that so many MPs came along and are engaged in making a real difference.

The APPGA is an important platform for autism to be discussed and raised in Parliament. Last year the Group convened successful meetings on employment and over a hundred members of the public came to a meeting on criminal justice issues, which led to the Prisons Minister helping to start a number of prisons on the road to Autism Accreditation.

Yesterday’s meeting was the Group’s first of the new parliament and an opportunity to begin setting their agenda for the years ahead. Members old and new exchanged experiences of autism from their constituencies and discussed what needs to change to improve the lives of those on the spectrum. They covered a whole range of issues, from achieving timely diagnosis and creating employment opportunities, to ensuring the Adult Autism Strategy for England is implemented, as well as the worrying number of children with autism excluded from school.

The National Autistic Society provides the Secretariat for the Group and will be working with the Group’s chair, Cheryl Gillan MP, on the programme of work for the next five years.

APPGA Officers

Chair: Cheryl Gillan MP
Vice-Chair: Lord Don Touhig (also a vice-president of The National Autistic Society)

Officers
Steve Brine MP
Thangam Debbonaire MP
Robert Flello MP
Charlotte Leslie MP
Justin Madders MP
Jonathan Reynolds MP
Jim Shannon MP
Baroness Uddin