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Think Different Dinner returns to support north-east autism and neuro diversity charity

By David Porter

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Autism and Neuro Diversity North Scotland (A-ND) has announced the return of its fundraising dinner following this year's event which raised £46,000 for the Aberdeen-based autism support charity.

Think Different Dinner will return on Thursday, May 23 at Aberdeen’s Union Kirk venue.

This year, the event was sponsored by Global E&C and Serica Energy and provided A-NDwith a profile- raising platform to connect with organisations and individuals from across the north of Scotland.

A-ND CEO Billy Alexander and Services Manager for Binky and Outreach Support Francesca Read alongside Binky the Sensory Bus.
A-ND CEO Billy Alexander and Services Manager for Binky and Outreach Support Francesca Read alongside Binky the Sensory Bus.

The money raised through the Think Different Dinner will contribute to A-NDls plans for continued expansion and growth, allowing it to provide its life-changing services to more autistic and neurodivergent children, young people, adults and families, and their wider support networks across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, and north Scotland.

A-ND currently supports 150 neurodivergent individuals and families, with its business plan forecasting a rise to over 500 people by 2027.

With approximately 1 per cent of the region's population diagnosed autistic and a further 15per cent - 20 per cent who are neurodiverse, A-ND's growth would enable its team to provide crucial services to more people in need.

The £46,000 raised during 2023’s dinner has contributed significantly to A-ND's business plans, crucially supporting the launch and running of its mobile ‘Binky the Sensory Bus’ (Binky) initiative.

Donated by Stagecoach Bluebird, the refurbished double decker bus provides children and young people with the

chance to experience a multi-sensory environment that has proven benefits for development and regulation.

Aiming to reach a minimum of 1400 individuals and associated families across the region over the next 22 months, in partnership with SensationALL, this initiative will bring A-ND's support to families who can’t reach its Aberdeen City Centre Playscheme.

CEO Billy Alexander at the Think Different Dinner
CEO Billy Alexander at the Think Different Dinner

Despite a successful year for the charity, A-ND requires more than £180,000 a year to exist and continue providing its current level of support through its Playscheme, Outreach, Binky and all its services.

With the 2023 dinner exceeding all expectations, A-ND CEO Billy Alexander is aiming even higher for 2024: “This year, we were able to achieve a longstanding goal of ours in hosting our first ever dinner.

“In the months since the 2023 Think Different Dinner, we have seen the difference this additional funding has made to the number of individuals and families we have been able to support.

"This has been made possible by our sponsors and supporters who continue to believe and invest in the crucial work

we are doing at A-ND.

"Next year, we are hoping to reach more individuals and families through our support in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, Moray and expanding into the Highlands &aIslands – the Think Different dinner will go a long way to help us achieve that.”

Alongside the specialist support A-ND provides to families across north Scotland, the team has a key role to play in building awareness and education within our communities.

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