Perth autism charity in running for top cash prize

© DC Thomson
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik during a visit to Perth Autism Support in November 2016.

A vital charity which teetered on the brink of closure earlier this year is in the running for a top cash award.

Perth Autism Support, which offers critical help to around 650 children and young people, was forced to briefly suspend services in August in the face of a severe funding shortfall.

Emergency aid from the Scottish Government, Perth and Kinross Council and NHS Tayside is helping keep the charity afloat while negotiations take place to find a permanent solution with core funding.

The Market Street group has now been shortlisted for this year’s ScottishPower Foundation Awards, putting it in the running to receive a share of the £30,000 award fund.

It is one of 18 projects nominated for the accolade, which will be announced at a ceremony in Glasgow on Tuesday.

Funding from the ScottishPower Foundation has already allowed the charity to deliver extra four sessions at Teen Ranch, a residential facility located in Inchture.

The facility has been developed for children living with disabilities, supported by trained volunteers, and allows the family a weekend of respite.

The weekends also support children with autism as they get the chance to benefit from  independent time in a safe environment.

Perth Autism Support has been nominated for the Community Impact and Engagement category and stands to receive a cash prize of £5,000, or a runner-up amount of £2,500.

Ann McKechin, trustee and executive officer of the ScottishPower Foundation said: “I have had the pleasure of getting to know the team at Perth Autism Support across the last year and have learned about some of the fantastic work which they are undertaking in the area.

“We’re really pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to receive additional funding, but also to meet with other like-minded organisations and foster learning.”

The foundation was established in 2013 to support charity projects across the UK. The awards are now in their fourth year.

Perth Autism Support received received glowing praise from the Care Inspectorate.

Its holiday, after school and weekend services fare particularly well. Inspectors also highlighted the positive relationship between volunteers, staff and children.