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Q&A: My Barking & Dagenham -Chris Gillbanks is the CEO of Sycamore Trust UK, a charity which supports those with autism and learning difficulties.

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 September 2018

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Chris Gillbanks, CEO of Sycamore Trust UK, speaks to reporter Rhiannon Long about how businesses in the community can do more to help those with autism learning difficulties.

What is your connection with the borough?

I have been working as CEO of Sycamore Trust UK for more than 15 years.

Sycamore Trust UK is a charity supporting people affected by autism or learning difficulties and we provide a range of specialised services aimed at supporting and empowering our clients as well as educating the community on the positive aspects of autism.

What’s the best thing about working in the borough?

Over the past 15 years, I have seen lots of change in the borough.

The diverse make-up of the community has at times presented challenges but the borough has always risen to those challenges with a vision for a better future for their residents.

What one thing would you change?

The government’s civil society strategy emphasises the importance of business and public sector working in partnership with community groups.

I would like to see more local businesses engaging with the community, especially those with disabilities.

Use three words to describe the area.

Diverse, rejuvenation, vision.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

The MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, has been our patron for nearly 20 years.

When I first met her she was minister for children and worked endlessly to support vulnerable young people in the country. Even today, in opposition, she remains a great constituency MP who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

What new law would you introduce if your were the prime minister?

There are so many issues that need to be tackled at the moment, particularly around support for young people. I would particularly like to see more accountability by big businesses in regards to their social responsibility.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

Making sure that the young people of this borough, those both with and without a disability, are given support to achieve their potential. There is a lot of talent in the borough that must not go untapped.

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