Autism Action Network Charter

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1 Autism Action Network Charter Introduction The Autism Action Network is an exciting opportunity for you to be part of a passionate community committed to helping people with autism to live the life they choose. By joining our network, you will develop a range of skills as you take action in partnership with our external affairs team as we campaign at a national and local level for lasting positive change for people affected by autism. You will also have the chance to increase public awareness and understanding of autism through our media work. You will help to fight for a world where everyone living with autism: gets the support, education and training they need lives with dignity and as independently as possible feels part of their community and wider society is understood by all professionals who support them is respected for who they are by a knowledgeable public. This charter sets out what you can expect from joining the Autism Action Network. It reflects our commitment to working with you and recognises that we can t achieve change without the invaluable experiences and dedication offered by people affected by autism. It has three sections: Section 1: Being part of the Autism Action Network Section 2: Understanding what is involved Section 3: Working together You can also find out more about the network in the Your questions answered section at If you would like more information about the Autism Action Network, please contact our external affairs team by ing or calling

2 Section 1: Being part of the Autism Action Network In this section you will find out about how the Autism Action Network works and how to join. How the Autism Action Network works You can choose how you want to be involved in the Autism Action Network by applying to be either a champion or an ambassador. Ambassadors will agree to take part in regular activities and will receive regular contact, support and training from our external affairs team. Champions can choose to take as much or as little action as they want, but will not receive the same level of support from us. All champions and ambassadors will receive a regular newsletter. This will tell them what opportunities there are for involvement, provide accompanying resources when appropriate and celebrate examples of successes. The type of activities champions and ambassadors may do include: coming to an event or meeting organised by us (like a lobby of parliament) sharing your experiences with the media informing our views and understanding by taking part in online consultations, surveys or by coming to a focus group meeting or writing to politicians and decision-makers in your area raising awareness of autism with an event to mark a key date, such as World Autism Awareness Day or our 50th anniversary. Champions Champions will receive regular information by on forthcoming activities, as well as resources to help them carry out these activities. They will also find out about what other champions and ambassadors are doing. However, there is no expectation that champions will carry out regular activities, only that they will tell us when they do take part in an activity. Therefore, they will receive less individual support from our external affairs team. Everyone who applies for the champion role will be accepted. Ambassadors Ambassadors are the most active members of our network. They will agree to take part in a minimum number of activities each year and in return will receive regular contact, support and training from our external affairs team. Since ambassadors will receive more intensive support from us, there are approximately only 130 places for ambassadors across the UK at this time. We are committed to participation of people with autism and their families, and to the Autism Action Network, across the UK. Owing to the different devolved governments across the UK, the scheme may be delivered slightly differently from nation to nation, and the levels of support champions and ambassadors receive may vary.

3 In Section 2 we will tell you in more detail what you can expect from us if you are a champion or an ambassador and what each role requires. This will help you to decide whether you want to apply to be a champion or an ambassador. How to join the Autism Action Network If you want to join the Autism Action Network, either as a champion or an ambassador, you will need to complete an application form. This is so we know about your experiences of autism and the issues you are most interested in. You should read this charter carefully before completing an application form, so you know what to expect. You must be aged 18 or over to apply to join the Autism Action Network through this application process. (Young people under the age of 18 can join if they have previously worked with us through our Young Campaigners Group and have their parent s permission). The Autism Action Network is open to applicants from across the UK. You can complete the application form at You can also request a copy by ing us at or calling Recruitment We have an equal opportunities and diversity policy, and believes that no one should be treated less favourably because of their gender, marital status, sexual orientation, social class, race, ethnic origin, religious beliefs or disability. Everyone who completes an application form will automatically become a champion of the network. We will choose up to 130 ambassadors from across the UK. Read our role profile at to find out who should apply to join the Autism Action Network and how we will choose our ambassadors.

4 Section 2: Understanding what is involved In this section you will find out what champions and ambassadors are expected to do. This will help you decide which role you want to apply for. It will also explain what our external affairs team will and will not provide to champions and ambassadors. What Autism Action Network champions agree to do They will: agree to follow the commitments in this charter agree to receive a regular newsletter agree to be contacted with specific opportunities as appropriate agree to be contacted outside of office hours if there are urgent media requests (Note: This will only apply to those who have agreed to speak to the media.) agree to have their details kept on our database tell us if their contact details or circumstances change have the opportunity to say 'no' to taking part in any activity, and will be able to change their mind about taking part in any activity up to a point tell us if they don't want to be involved in our policy, campaigns or media work any more respect the need for confidentiality whenever they have access to restricted information (eg research statistics before they are published) tell us when they have done something as part of the Autism Action Network accept that the ultimate responsibility for decisions about how our organisation is run and the work we do is made by our Board of Trustees and senior management team not make public statements or write articles for publication in our name without first obtaining the permission of a member of our external affairs team rather than represent us, champions and ambassadors work alongside us to achieve a world where people with autism can live the life they choose. What Autism Action Network ambassadors agree to do Ambassadors will make the same commitments as champions do, as listed above. Ambassadors will also be expected to: attend at least one day of training carry out four activities as part of the Autism Action Network each year, as agreed with a member of our external affairs team and set out in their action plan give feedback on their involvement in the Autism Action Network when requested by our external affairs team. What we will provide to Autism Action Network champions We will: send a regular newsletter outlining upcoming opportunities for involvement, provide accompanying resources when appropriate and celebrate examples of successes

5 get in touch on occasion about specific opportunities to get involved which we think may be particularly relevant to you provide information and advice for activities as required by phone or during office hours (Monday-Friday, 9.30am-4.30pm) provide out-of-hours information and advice to anyone doing media interviews outside office hours keep contact details and information about the kinds of activities each person would prefer to be involved in, secure on our database give as much information as we can to help people prepare before taking part in an activity give at least three weeks of notice where possible when asking someone to take part in our work (Note: Sometimes things are planned or changed at short notice but we will try to avoid this when we can media work is also an exception) pay reasonable expenses incurred when taking part in an activity, if agreed in advance with a member of our external affairs team eg travel to an event at Parliament aim to respond to s within ten working days (Note: If we are not able to speak by phone when you call, we will arrange a time to call back within ten working days) make reasonable adjustments where possible to meet individual access needs always discuss the circumstances that may result in a person being asked to leave the Autism Action Network and explain to them why that decision has been reached. What we will provide to Autism Action Network ambassadors Ambassadors will get the same support champions do, as listed above. Ambassadors will also be provided with: at least one day of training to help them develop their campaigning, policy and media skills priority to take part in events and activities which match their interests and experience regular contact, expert advice and feedback from our external affairs team to support them in the activities they take part in communication, where possible, by phone or according to their personal preference the opportunity to help us develop how the Autism Action Network works. What we will not provide to Autism Action Network champions or ambassadors We will not: provide case work, or offer support to help with individual problems pay champions or ambassadors for taking part in our work always provide the same level of support for activities that fall outside of our work programme we will discuss with champions and ambassadors what support might be offered, based on the issue raised and team resources always offer everyone the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of our work some opportunities, eg speaking at events, are limited so we will approach people with these opportunities depending on their preferences, skills and availability.

6 Section 3: Working together In this section you will find further information on how we will work with champions and ambassadors. This information will also help you decide whether you want to be a champion or an ambassador. Developing the skills of champions and ambassadors Champions and ambassadors will receive briefings and guides relevant to the activities they want to do. These will explain the issues and give advice about how to make the most of the activities they do. Ambassadors will receive at least one day of training. Training will develop the skills needed to carry out the activities. This could include skills like learning how to speak to the media and influencing local decisionmakers and MPs. Our external affairs team will provide information and advice with activities as required, by phone or . Generally we will not directly supervise champions and ambassadors when they are carrying out their activities because we trust them to carry out their work in an appropriate manner. However, we expect champions and ambassadors to provide us with feedback about the activities they have taken part in. Media policy For champions and ambassadors wishing to promote the work they are doing with us in the media, we ask that they contact our press team and not the media directly. Our press team will then contact the media to see if they are interested in the story. We also ask that champions and ambassadors who are directly approached by journalists should get in contact with our press team before they speak to them or answer any questions. This will help our press team oversee all media contact and provide advice for dealing with the media. Use of photographs and films We may take photographs and films at events you attend. We do this to tell other people more about autism and to get people to support our work. We normally use them in different ways, such as in our publications, on our website, in our advertisements, in magazines, newspapers and on television. Each person will be asked to complete a photo permission form to agree to us using their picture. You do not have to give permission if you do not want to. Expenses We will not pay champions or ambassadors for taking part in our work. However, we will pay reasonable expenses incurred when taking part in an activity, if agreed in advance with a member of our external affairs team and receipts are provided. As a charity we ask that as far as possible, travel tickets are bought in advance and are standard class, to reduce travel costs. Representing our ambitions

7 Champions and ambassadors do not represent our organisation, but work alongside us to achieve a world where people with autism can live the life they choose. We must take every effort to protect the organisation s reputation. If the actions of a champion or ambassador are a risk to our reputation, then we will ask them to leave the network. This may happen if champions and ambassadors make public statements or write articles for publication in our name without first obtaining the permission of a member of our external affairs team. Solving problems If champions and ambassadors have a concern or problem, they should contact a member of our external affairs team to agree a solution. If they are still unhappy with the support they have been given, they can speak to a manager in the team. If we are concerned by the conduct or the work of our champions and ambassadors, we will talk to them about this and try to find a solution. Champions and ambassadors involvement in the network may end if there are concerns about expense claims made whilst carrying out the agreed activities. This will also happen if champions or ambassadors verbally or physically abuse, assault, bully, discriminate, victimise or harass staff, other volunteers or members of the public. We will always discuss with champions and ambassadors the circumstances that may have resulted in their actions, and explain to them any decision which is reached. Staying on We wish to maintain the relationship we have with champions and ambassadors. Therefore, there is no restriction on how long someone can remain in either role, providing they continue to follow the commitments set out in this charter. We want to give as many people the opportunity to become ambassadors as possible. We believe that after one year, many ambassadors will have developed their skills to enable them to continue without the intensive support we initially provide and we cannot guarantee that we will continue to provide the same level of support beyond the first year. We do recognise that support needs differ and can change over time. We will therefore discuss what level of support we can provide after the first year should they wish to continue. Moving on Champions and ambassadors can end their involvement in the Autism Action Network at any time. If they choose to leave, we would welcome feedback on their reasons. This will help us improve the support we provide, as well as finding out if they would consider being involved again in the future. Health and safety Champions and ambassadors have a responsibility to look after themselves and should not act in a way that may cause them or others injury.

8 When carrying out activities with us, it is the responsibility of all champions and ambassadors to report any accident/incident or dangerous event to a member of our external affairs team, even if no one has been injured. We will not let champions and ambassadors continue beyond a point where it may be bad to their own or other people s health or safety. If this happens, we may decide it is better for champions and ambassadors to reduce or stop their volunteering with us. We will always talk to them before making a decision. Data protection and law We are committed to protecting your privacy. Personal information recorded about champions and ambassadors will be kept and maintained safely and confidentially in line with our privacy and data protection policy. This policy is based on the Data Protection Act You can view our privacy and data protection policy at or request a copy by asking a member of our external affairs team. Ambassadors as volunteers If you become an ambassador, you will be considered one of our volunteers. A volunteer is someone who regularly carries out activities with us without receiving money for doing so. We have a volunteering policy from which some of the information in this charter has been taken. For a full copy of the volunteering policy, please contact our external affairs team by ing or calling

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