More than 150 autistic people in Surrey with a mental health need will benefit from an innovative project led by Active Prospects

The project has been funded by a grant from Surrey County Council’s Mental Health Investment Fund, which was set up in 2022 to fund innovative solutions to the rising demand for mental health support in the county.

Active Prospects aims to address the recognised lack of effective support in Surrey for autistic people who also have a mental health diagnosis, by offering people up to a year’s support from a wellbeing coach. The small team of coaches will be trained in supporting people with both mental health needs and autism, and will work with people individually to understand their needs and aspirations, set goals and access the support they need to achieve these goals.

The project builds on a successful pilot led by Active Prospects, which has seen improvements in participants’ wellbeing across the board. Participants – all of whom have a dual diagnosis of mental health needs and autism – worked with Active Prospects’ Clinical Director Lynsey Way to set wellbeing goals. They used a bespoke wellbeing outcome tool to track their progress and were given a discretionary budget of £1,000 to spend (with Lynsey’s approval) on activities or support which would make the biggest difference to their wellbeing. One participant used their budget to pay for paddleboarding and outdoor adventure courses, which have not only had a positive impact on their wellbeing but have also opened up paid work opportunities which they are now pursuing.

The project also incorporates ‘social prescribing’, defined by NHS England as “an approach that connects people to activities, groups, and services in their community to meet the practical, social and emotional needs that affect their health and wellbeing”.

Participants in the project will also have access to a brand new Wellbeing Outcome web app (a prototype for which was designed in partnership with JP Morgan Chase’s Force for Good programme), which will enable them to update and track their progress online independently or with their family or support worker.

The project will go live from April 2024.

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