Our Awards

Autism NI is proud to be recognised for our work and achievements from external organisations. Through great team work, partnerships and dedicated staff & volunteers the organisation has received a number of prestigious awards over 25 years plus of our existence.

CO3LeaderAwards2016.pngCo3 'Lifetime Commitment Award'

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Autism NI's CEO, Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE, was recognised at the annual CO3 awards 2016, for her work in the area of Learning Disability and her specialism in Autism which extends back over 25 years.  

She has now already been honoured for her lifetime work through an honorary doctorate in 2012 and MBE in 2015.  She is overwhelmed that she has earned a hat-trick by being recognised by her fellow peers within the voluntary sector too!

She won this prestigious prize specifically for her work in research, service development and taking the strategic lead in the development of an internationally acclaimed early intervention programme for Autism. She was also congratulated for ensuring social change through a community development and partnership ethos which led to the successful political lobby and implementation of the Autism Act (NI) in 2011.

Dr Cassidy comments, "I was absolutely thrilled to receive the Lifetime Commitment Award from CO3. Autism NI has came a long way over the past 25 years when Autism services were virtually non existent. Through the help of a great support team and our tireless volunteers and parents, we have made a real difference to Autism families throughout Northern Irelandand I am honored to have been a part of that. "

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Lloyds TSB Overall UK 'Championing Change' Award

Autism NI was presented with the award at Banking Hall, the historic London Headquarters of Lloyds Bank, in London as part of the first ever Charity Achievement awards organised by the Foundation to celebrate its 30th anniversary. In 2015, Autism NI has been selected the overall UK winner of Lloyds TSB Foundation 'Championing Change' award, beating competition from England, Wales and the Channel Islands.

The 'Championing Change' award honoured the charity that had a significant impact on policy, commissioning, practice or debate at a local or national level. Autism NI spent years campaigning to bring in legal recognition of the condition that culminated in the Autism Act (NI) 2011. The charity worked tirelessly with parents and politicians to bring about this legislation.

Kerry Boyd, Director of Development at Autism NI said, "I'm delighted that Autism NI has won an award that recognises our achievement of influencing public policy with the introduction of the Autism Act (NI) 2011. It was a long hard struggle to make politicians and decision makers understand the need for change but we kept going because we know that this leg was crucial to providing access to better Autism services. Lloyds Bank Foundation has supported us over the past 20 years by providing funding for our Family Support and Training departments, and for that alone we are grateful to them. By winning this award for 'Championing Change', this will undoubtedly provide us with the platform we need to continue to raise awareness for this very misunderstood disability throughout Northern Ireland."

The UK-wide awards recognised the work of outstanding small and medium-sized charities, which have benefited from grants from the Lloyds Bank Foundations of Northern Ireland, England, Wales and the Channel Islands. Since the launch in 1985 the Foundations have distributed over £575m to charities in communities across UK helping tackle disadvantage.

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Autism NI has secured a much sought after accreditation from 'Investors in People' for our excellence in the workplace. This award represents a huge achievement for the Charity and reflects the hardwork and dedication of our staff and the lengths they go to to provide further support to families living with Autism.

Autism NI's CEO Dr Arlene Cassidy explains Autism NI's choice to embark on the 'Investors in People' programme, "It was an easy decision to get on board with the 'Investors in People' programme as we have already achieved so much as an organisation throughout the 25 years of our existence. People are at the centre of everything we do, whether it is managing and supporting our staff or developing training programmes for parents and carers. We want to make sure we are providing effective services as well as long-term buisness successes in every aspect of our work. Our staff motivation and work ethic is an area which deserves recognition and it is the true value of everything we have achieved and strive to do at Autism NI."

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The award was given following a comprehensive audit by 'Investors in People' assessors who evaluated the Charity's performance including business strategy, communications, learning and progression in the workplace, operations, management of staff and performance recognition.

Autism NI's CEO Dr Arlene Cassidy expresses her delight in achieving the accreditation and what it means for the future of the Charity, "We are absolutely thrilled to have been recognised for our quality of staff and operations in the workplace. Achieving this award will help us build on our people-orientated approach, staff motivation and business ethic which already reflects the Charity's ability to provide effective services to the Autism community."

Charity awards logo.pngLloyds TSB Overall 'Championing Change' Award

Autism NI has been selected as the overall Northern Ireland winner of the Championing Change Charity Award from Lloyds TSB Foundation. Autism NI's Director of Development, Kerry Boyd is thrilled with the Charity's achievements and expressed her gratitude to the support network of the Autism community, "We are absolutely delighted to receive such a prestigious award from Lloyds TSB Foundation, and for being recognised for our achievements in championing change.

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Autism NI specifically wants to extend our thanks to all the parents and volunteers who work tirelessly to support our Charity and vision. Our family support groups across Northern Ireland are the backbone of Autism NI and a huge part of our growth and success in the community. We look forward to continue our relationship with our groups and influence change in the wider society."

The Foundations organised the awards to celebrate its 30th anniversary and the Northern Ireland winners were announced in July 2015. Lloyds Bank Foundation NI Executive Director Sandara Kelso-Robb comments, "The aim of the awards is to showcase how local charities are working at the frontline of tackling disadvantage and bettering lives in their communities. The UK-wide awards recognise the work of outstanding small and medium-sized charities, which have benefited from grants from the Lloys Bank Foundation of NI, England, Walkes and the Channel Islands.

The sector has been facing massive funding cuts in recent years but these awards show how groups and individuals are rallying, ensuring that there is hope of a better future for their communities," she added.

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CO3 'Third Sector Chairperson of the Year'

In 2012, David Heatley from Autism NI won the 'Third Sector Chairperson of the Year' Award.

David set up and lead the Parents Autism Lobby (PAL), which was critical to securing the Autism Act (NI) 2011. David is the first Chairperson to visit all Autism NI branches and see the Autism legislation through to a successful conclusion. David continues to ensure Autism NI will have an influential role in the effective implementation of the legislation. The Judges were impressed with David's depth of involvement in the cause they chamption, and the wide ranging impact they have made in their organisation. David's strength of leadership had truly set him apart, as well as his ability to lead change for the greater good.

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The CO3 Leadership Awards are uniquely designed to celebrate the work of Charity leaders, leaders of community organisations and social economy organisations, all who consistently deliver inspiring, dynamic and innovative leadership, which makes a big difference on the ground.

CO3 Voyager Leadership Award for Political Impact


In 2010, Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE (CEO Autism NI) received the Voyager Award for Political Impact on behalf of work with Autism NI. The independent CO3 judging panel had commended Autism NI for it's consultation with and empowerment of a regional network of families to promote a cause and to address a great inequality within the disability sector.

The skill of the organisation in building it's campaign on researched models of innovative legislation and political action worldwide was recognised. Additionally there was mention of Autism NI being the author of a range of influential strategic publications and a founding members of the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership within the UK and Ireland. This was felt to have been very effective in establishing Autism NI's credentials and reputation as an effective, active and innovative agent for real change.

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In particular the Judges noted the leading role of Autism NI in the signing of an agreement between the NI Assembly and the US Congress leading to the creation of the All Party Group on Autism and it's commitment to the introduction of the Private Members Bill on Autism.

She comments, "Receiving the CO3 Political Impact Award was a very proud moment not only for me but for all the staff and volunteers at Autism NI, who were part of the lobby campaign. The political journey I embarked upson involved a lot of persistence, energy and self-belief and at times the goal of attaining Autism specific legislation, seemed so out of reach. Therefore to be acknowledged for all the hard work that was involved during that 10 year campaign, was a great moment of recognition within my career."

GlaxoSmithKline Impact Award

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In 2008, Autism NI were national winners of The King's Fund and GlaxoSmithKline Impact Award which was held in the National Gallery in London.

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The annual GlaxoSmithKline Impact Awards are run in partnership with the King's Fund to recognise and promote excellence in community healthcare. Autism NI was one of 10 charities from across the UK to be honoured with the Award. Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the King's Fund, commented, "Autism NI is a genuine trailblazer - it provides invaluable support to families with young children from the time when they are awaiting diagnosis to pre school training. It knows that early intervention is vital for children with Autism and has worked tirelessly to ensure these families get the attention and support they need."

Dr Arlene Cassidy MBE (CEO Autism NI) expressed her deep pride in the charity's impact and work locally, "The Award selection is on the basis of excellence in the areas of Innovation, Management, Partnership, Achievement, Community Focus and Targeting Need. We see this as a vital endorsement and a critical phase in the development of Autism as an effective partner with government to address the crisis regarding the lack of services for people with Autism."