Nick Gibb, MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, visited one of Aspens’ residential homes recently, to find out more about our work and how we support people on the autism spectrum and with learning disabilities, and their families.

The MP visited one of our residential services in the heart of Bognor Regis, West Sussex, where we support six adults on the autism spectrum with additional complex needs.

The meeting came about further to an appeal to politicians, commissioners and funders from Robbie Shanahan earlier this year, asking for increased funding to help recruit and retain staff and to help them invest in their skilled workforce of social care key-workers in recognition of the hugely important role they have.

Mr Gibb met with our CEO Robbie Shanahan, Regional Area Manager Samantha Fievez and the Registered Service Manager Scarlett Errington, who introduced him to the people who live there, showed him the home and described the activities and day-to-day life of the residents.

The Aspens team told Mr Gibb about the wider work that we do, and how we provide around 700,000 hours of care and support to people on the autism spectrum and with learning disabilities every year across the south-east, and the range of services we provide, including Children and Young People’s Services, Family Support, Community Outreach and Day Opportunities.

Robbie Shanahan spoke about the huge challenges of funding, recruitment and retention of staff we currently face, along with the majority of the social care sector in the UK, and how he hopes that through partnering and working with local government, MPs such as Mr Gibb and the community, such issues can be tackled. Robbie Shanahan expressed that he hoped MPs such as Mr Gibb will help raise awareness of these concerns and speak out on the charity’s behalf within central government.

The Aspens’ team described the impact of COVID-19 on the charity and how the difficulties it brought about were overcome through the hard work of its dedicated workforce and support from the wider community.

Nick Gibb said: “It was wonderful to meet the dedicated and professional staff who provide help and support to the six residents of the home. And it really is a warm and comfortable home where the residents can feel safe in a family environment. I also enjoyed meeting some of the residents who are clearly happy living under Aspens’ care.”

Robbie Shanahan said: “A huge thanks to Nick Gibb for taking the time to visit our residential service in Bognor Regis and find out more about Aspens’ work. We hope that Mr Gibb will help us to raise awareness about the important issues facing us, and the social care sector as a whole, as we strive for the best possible future for the people we support. Working together with local government and politicians will play an absolutely vital part in helping us to achieve our overarching vision for an inclusive society where every individual on the autism spectrum and with learning disabilities can thrive as part of their local community.