02 May Clive Stobbs – Reflections over the last 35 years
Having almost reached the grand old age of 72 and approaching retirement gives me the ideal opportunity of looking back over the 35 years that I have been involved in the world of autism and particularly the twenty-one years of the Autism Alliance.
Like most local autistic societies, Autism Anglia (or The Essex Autistic Society as it was known then) spent its first twenty years or so concentrating on developing its own services to try to provide information, help and support to as many people in the area as possible.
The Autism Alliance was founded in 1997 by a small group of Chairs and CEOs who realised they could improve their services by sharing good practices and ideas. They were frustrated that they weren’t allowed to attend any of the established networking meetings that their professional staff were invited to so started their own group. I think there were five charities represented at the first meeting. The fact that there are now seventeen charities is an indication of how important the Alliance has become.
I’m pretty sure that I must be the last of the early Alliance pioneers still working and I’d like to say a big thank you to all those who, over the years, have contributed to the Alliance being so successful. We have members from all over the UK and their incomes range in size from £200k to £48m. With a combined income of over £160m the Alliance really can claim to be the ‘UK’s voice of autism’.
Although I will be stepping down as a member of the Alliance when my successor takes over as CEO of Autism Anglia I’m sure I will keep in touch with the Alliance and hope that its next twenty-one years are as successful as its last.
Clive Stobbs, OBE, FRSA
Company Secretary & Hon Treasurer, Autism Alliance UK
Chief Executive, Autism, Anglia.