The Wokingham Paper

Wokingham man launches new charity for people with autism

- By JESS WARREN jwarren@wokingham.toda For more informatio­n, visit: kimelfound­ation.com

A WOKINGHAM man has founded a charity that supports young people with autism, and its first 12-week programme launched yesterday.

Nic Lander, who has three neurodiver­gent daughters, created the Kimel Foundation last September over concerns about the number of people with autism in employment.

In 2016, the National Autistic Society found that just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment.

Mr Lander said this statistic worries him, when he thinks of his daughters.

Driven by a desire to help the “local people find lasting employment”, he launched the Wokingham-based charity.

“We have a 12-week programme that focuses on personal developmen­t, and six weeks of job coaching,” he said.

It works in collaborat­ion with the employer, to find jobs that are right for everyone.

“I firmly believe that there is a job out there for everybody,” he said.

The company has also developed an app that keeps communicat­ion flowing between employer, the

young person and the foundation, often setting out clear expectatio­ns and tasks.

“It’s all part of the package we’ve created,” Mr Lander said.

It also means the foundation stays in contact with young people, once they begin a new job.

“People can stay with Kimel as long as they like,” he added. “The app stays with the person while they’re employed there. It’s about making people feel comfortabl­e.”

So far, the charity has found links with Just Around the Corner a

Wokingham charity provides personal learning and developmen­t therapies for children and young people. It also runs the shop JAC In A Box on Central Walk, in Wokingham town centre.

Mr Lander said Chris Pape, who is heavily involved with JAC, is now the Kimel Foundation’s employabil­ity skills mentor.

“Chris is incredible,” he said. “She does some of our interventi­ons, along with Pat Meadowcrof­t, who focuses on youth engagement.”

While JAC is a great stepping stone for employment, Mr Lander said the Kimel Foundation is actively seeking “kind hearted local business” to help give young neurodiver­gent people the opportunit­y to work in the community.

It is also aiming to open a zero waste cafe in the town centre, which will act as a “meeting point” for the community.

“It’ll be a great way to provide hospitalit­y experience,” Mr Lander said.

“We’re hoping to work with Share Wokingham on it.”

Mr Lander has also founded Kimel Solutions, which provides continual personal developmen­t (CPD) accredited training with neurodiver­gent people, workplaces and schools.

It runs courses on neurodiver­sity first aid, accommodat­ing autistic people and unearthing autistic talent.

“We want to help companies, who know they need to do something, but don’t know what,” Mr Lander said. “It’s about opening employer’s eyes , giving a bit of understand­ing, and being more respectful to each other.”

He added: “We’re trying to change the world bit by bit, and make it more accepting.”

 ??  ?? SUPPORT: Nic Lander and one of his daughters, who helped inspire the Kimel Foundation
SUPPORT: Nic Lander and one of his daughters, who helped inspire the Kimel Foundation

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