Virtual Autism Reality Experience Bus in Newry City

Participants outside the Autism Bus | NICRC

An Autism Reality Experience Bus was in five different venues throughout the Newry City area in November 2022.

The bus provided an innovative and immersive training session designed to give participants a virtual experience of living with autism. It was a practical, hands-on experience giving participants a greater insight into autism, which helped to experience the world from an autistic person’s perspective, promoting diversity and inclusivity for all.

Aidan McCabe, Promoting Well Being Manager with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust was delighted to be able to bring this service to the local area.

He said, “With greater public awareness on autism, it can help individuals with autism and make lives easier for families and caregivers, it also enriches our society by helping people accept the wonderful differences that we all have.”

This experience was aimed at professionals working in health and social care at all levels, as well as family members or informal carers who want to have a better understanding of autism. 

The Autism Reality Experience Programme was supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s Housing for All Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.

A total of £5,431,082 has been invested in the Radius Ardmore and Rockmount shared housing developments and associated five-year Good Relations Plans in Newry. Radius continues to work in partnership with the local Advisory Group stakeholders, and with residents to develop each scheme’s Good Relations Plan.

Blanaid Bruce, Communities Officer with Radius Housing, highlighted the importance of agencies working together. He said:

“We are delighted to support the Promoting Well Being Team in Newry through our Housing for All Good Relations programme which promotes inclusion in communities, to help bring this much needed service to the area and enable over 120 people the opportunity to increase their awareness of autism.”

Radius has shared housing developments across Northern Ireland. Good Relations Plans include “Bridging” events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes, which include Health and Wellbeing, Education and Training.