Campaign aims to put autism under the spotlight and raise charity funds

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 March 2019

Steve Dixon from the Sycamore Trust with mayor of Barking and Dagenham Cllr Sanchia Alasia. Picture: Sophie Morton

Steve Dixon from the Sycamore Trust with mayor of Barking and Dagenham Cllr Sanchia Alasia. Picture: Sophie Morton


A Dagenham-based autism charity is encouraging people to wear something unusual for a day in a bid to raise both funds and awareness.

Sycamore Trust’s Dare to be Different campaign encourages people to donate a pound to wear something a little bit different to work or school for a day.

“You can wear your pyjamas, a football shirt or a wedding dress - or just a pair of odd socks,” the charity’s Steve Dixon told the Post.

“Wear whatever works for you. It’s about celebrating that everyone is a little bit different.”

The date – Friday, April 5 – was chosen to coincide with World Autism Awareness Week, which runs from April 1-7.

Steve said that some schools and businesses in the area have already expressed an interest in taking part, and hoped that others would follow.

Those who do participate are encouraged to take a photo of their outfits and tweet them using #DareToBeDifferent in a bid to generate awareness and conversation about autism.

The charity, which is based in Dagenham but also supports families in Havering and Redbridge, hopes the campaign will also raise awareness of the work it does.

Among its projects is the social survivors scheme, which teaches young people important life skills such as how to pay bills, travel on public transport and how to build safe relationships.

The charity also offers parent support groups and youth groups – including one specifically for girls.

“Girls are less likely to be diagnosed with autism because they’re better at copying behaviour,” Steve explained.

“Eighty per cent of our young people are boys, but autism affects people 50/50.”

The campaign has been backed by Cllr Sanchia Alasia, the mayor of Barking and Dagenham.

She said: “I would encourage residents and businesses to get invovled in Dare to be Different Day.

“It’s about celebrating diversity and celebrating differences.

“We want to celebrate differences in Barking and Dagenham because we believe these differences help us as a borough to face the challenges we have going forward.”

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