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23 March 2018

Autism friendly library launches in Millom - Cumbria’s first

A welcoming, safe and stimulating environment for autistic young people is to be launched at Millom Library on Saturday 24th March at 11am.

The library will unveil its new autism friendly pop-up sensory area, supported by a range of resources, which will be available regularly with dedicated weekly sessions.

The pop-up sensory area, which includes a large dark den featuring LED lighting, tactile accessories, lightbox and ear defenders, is designed specifically for people with autism. It will promote a more inclusive use of library facilities and enable people to enjoy a quiet, safe space where they will feel welcome while also developing public awareness of autism.

The launch on Saturday comes on the eve of World Autism Awareness Week which runs from 26 March - 2 April.

Cumbria County Council’s Copeland Local Committee has invested £600 in these additional resources, which will enable Millom Library to be the first autism friendly library in Cumbria. The local committee is investing a further £600 for similar facilities at Whitehaven later this year.

To mark the event, Cllr Keith Hitchen, Chair of Cumbria County Council’s Copeland Local Committee, and Cllr Mike Hawkins, the county council’s Autism Champion for Copeland, will formally open the sensory area.

This will be followed by an open session for local families to enjoy the library’s new facilities. A craft activity has also been arranged for the morning of the launch. There will be a raffle with various prizes and all proceeds will go to the National Autistic Society.

Cllr Keith Hitchen said: “Millom library plays a central role in the community and Copeland Local Committee was delighted to provide funding for the pop-up sensory area, which is a great way to raise awareness of autism and promote the library as an ideal supportive venue. Millom Library has already been working with support groups to provide a safe environment with useful resources, and the new sensory area will complement that work really well.”

Cllr Mike Hawkins added: “I am delighted to be the first member champion for Autism in Copeland. Working alongside council colleagues, members of the business community, parents, carers and people on the Autistic spectrum, we will all work in partnership to be a community that will become Autistic friendly, allowing people living with Autism to access services and facilities that we all take for granted. The opening of this new facility in Millom is to be welcomed and is the start of Copeland’s journey to becoming more inclusive for all our citizens living with Autism.”

Millom Library already has a wide selection of autism books and sources of information and this additional range of resources will enable the library to develop its service and continue to support local community needs. This has been made possible by the generous support of the county council’s Copeland Local Committee in providing funding and encouragement to buy extra resources and develop a sensory area.

The library is keen to be part of Millom’s drive to become an autism friendly town and is particularly grateful to members of the Autism Around the Combe group for their support, guidance and encouragement. 

A welcoming, safe and stimulating environment for autistic young people is to be launched at Millom Library on Saturday 24th March at 11am.