Here's what Macclesfield's Space4Autism will spend Co-op donation money on

When you buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent goes to you and the Co-op gives the same to local communities.


By Alex Greensmith

Posted: Wednesday, 09th August 2023 11:23 am


Claire Hancock and Cheryl Simpson MBE of Space4Autism in Macclesfield. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)
Claire Hancock and Cheryl Simpson MBE of Space4Autism in Macclesfield. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)
Local initiatives

Beloved Macclesfield charity Space4Autism is to receive thousands of pounds from the Co-op.

The 18-year-old good cause supports autistic children, young people, adults and their families across Cheshire East.

They run over 4000 activities a year, and are predominantly self-funded, so the Co-op have stepped in to pledge thousands to them this year.

Space4Autism has revealed what they will be spending this year's Co-op Local Community Fund donation on.

Do you require Space4Autism and their services? Give them a call on 01625 617884. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

Macclesfield Nub News met with Space4Autism Co-Founder Cheryl Simpson MBE and Operations Manager Claire Hancock.

"I co-founded the charity in 2005 with another parent called John McKeller. There was no support in Cheshire and beyond really," said Cheryl.

"So we set up in the function room of what is now The Silk Trader pub, who kindly let us have their room for free, meeting as mums and dads once-a-month, and we set off from there really. 

"Originally it was just for parents, then in 2011 we started doing social groups for children, and that's when the charity really took off. 

A ceremony at Buxton Road Co-op in November will present a cheque from the Co-op to Space4Autism. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

"We offer our services to all ages. You don't have to have a diagnosis. If you think you, as an adult, or your child has autism, you can come and talk to us. We offer lots of social activities, including a lot that are therapeutic."

Claire, who has worked at the charity for five years, applied for the Co-op Local Community Fund.

"I found out about the Co-op Local Community Fund as I had gone in to a store and seen that they had raised money for Friends for Leisure [a similar charity which also serves Macclesfield, and is also a Co-op cause for this year].

"I found it a really easy process to apply for and working with the Co-op has been great.

The sensory room at Space4Autism. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

"People from the Co-op Food and Co-op Funeralcare have come round to see what we do, and we've done days where we have a pop-up stand in the store, which is all about visibility, letting the community know that we are here.

"What is great about the Co-op is you can go into the store. With other supermarket grants, it is hard to come in and show customers what we are all about. Whereas with the Co-op they want you to come in, we've had multiple days where we come in-store and raise awareness to show that we are there for the community." 

As well as the Co-op funded social groups, Space4Autism offer activities from massage therapy for carers, to family fundays like their upcoming one on August 20.

"It costs £700,000 to run Space4Autism every year, which is quite scary," revealed Cheryl.

The centre has games for kids like air hockey, find four and other board games. It also has an affordable, on-site cafe for kids and parents to enjoy. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

"Of that, we get 14% funding from Cheshire East Council and Health, but everything else we have to fund ourselves. 

"So every year we have to raise over £550,000. Hence why our relationship with the Co-op is amazing."

They were also a Co-op cause last year, where Co-op Members raised £2.995.87 for them.

"With the social clubs [specifically], the council reduced our funding by 25% this year," added Claire.

The relaxing garden at Space4Autism, dedicated to the memory of the late volunteer Angie Patterson. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

"There was a big funding gap there, so having someone like the Co-op who are paying towards our social clubs is amazing. 

"We've just applied to be a Co-op cause for next year as well. We have started a new youth forum, where we want young people to have their voice on what they want to happen here. So we will be having meetings, and they can have their say on what they want added to the space or what away days they want to go on. 

"We've always really wanted to develop the days out. So that's what we are going to spend next year's Co-op Local Community Fund on."

They are one of twelve causes in the Macclesfield area the Co-op is raising cash for.

Space4Autism is one of the best-known brands in Macclesfield. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

"We have ten social clubs from age 4 to never-ending. They run every other week, here at the centre. This includes sessions at evenings and weekends," Claire explained.

"The real incentive for people to come to the social clubs is to meet like-minded people, forging links and friendships.

"We know this because we have seen it in the first social group Cheryl started in 2011, when it was only for children. Six of the twelve children are still friends, and come here today as adults. 

"The member can meet outside of the social groups as well, but the clubs are a foundation for friendships, plus parents or carers know they are being supported. 

Space4Autism is located at 15-17 Mill Lane, Macclesfield SK11 7NN. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

"At the younger clubs parent and carers drop them off at the social club for a two hours, so not only are the children benefiting, but the parents or carers are too. Due to some complexities of the children and young people that attend the clubs, they can't just leave them with a neighbour or nan and grandad.

"So the parents can have a few hours to themselves, to do the shopping, or spend time with their other children." 

The children and young people social groups cost a lot to fund, as the staff-to-child ratio is high. But this means little ones are being expertly supported by adults, even when their parents are taking a few hours off, for that extra peace of mind.

But there are also social groups taking place outside of working hours, like evenings and weekends, to make their essential service as accessible as possible.

The charity will celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2025. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

Space4Autism is also powered by 37 staff and 60 volunteers. 

They have 7,500 members who benefit from the hard work they do. 

Cheryl, a mum-of-two sons herself with ASC-associated conditions, was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2018. 

"I often say I have created a monster," joked Cheryl. 

You can also support Space4Autism by visiting their café, which is open to the public. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

"It is quite scary. You have to make sure everything is in line at all times.

"It is not going to get smaller. We are only going to get bigger. 

"Year-on-year we are getting about 1,600 new members

"If it carries on that path, how many people can this charity support? And that is just in Cheshire East."

Co-op membership helps support your local community, with great rewards and deals for you too.

When you buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent goes to you and the Co-op gives the same to local communities.

"Co-op Macclesfield Member Pioneer Tina Davies-Wrench had this to say about the partnership.

"In my opinion the Co-op should support local causes like Space4Autism as the money will help them to support people to live an independent life and be part of the community," she said.

Next time you buy Co-op branded products like a meal deal, orange juice or meat, why not scan your Co-op card and select the money you have raised to go to Space4Autism? (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

"I believe Co-op customers should become members, so that they can take advantage of the special offers every week.

"It only costs £1 to join, 2% goes to local causes, 2% in the customer's savings pot and 1% to our national causes.

"Plus, every time you buy a carrier bag 10p is used to top up the local cause's pot for when we present the funds to them."

It doesn't cost you a penny to raise money for local causes, just become a Co-op Member and shop as you please. Money from Co-op branded products like milk or bacon raises funds for causes just like Space4Autism. Just look out for a Co-op sticker or label on the product.

Co-op-branded products are ones with the Co-op logo on like these pies. (Image - Macclesfield Nub News)

Just make sure you select Space4Autism on the Co-op app if you want your money to go to them! Join the Co-op today online at this webpage or in-store.

Macclesfield: To find out more about the Local Community Fund or Co-op Membership click on the red links. 

You can also click HERE to learn more about the social groups and more at Space4Autism.

See Also: Vintage Pink Floyd album to be played in planetarium near Macclesfield

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