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Crawley school girl supported by Phones4U billionaire after writing book about Autism

A book aimed at teaching young children about autism has been written by 12 year old Sienna.



A Crawley school girl has received the support of a billionaire after she wrote a book aimed at young children so they could understand more about autism.

12-year-old Sienna Manuel has wrote the book in collaboration with author Charlotte Olson. The aim of the book is to teach primary school children about fellow peers with Autism.

Phones4U billionaire and philanthropist, John Caudwell, has agreed to fund the distribution of the book to every primary school in the UK.

Sienna wrote to John in February 2018 to secure his support, and 25,000 schools are set to receive the book thanks to his motivation to raise awareness of Autism.

John Caudwell speaking at the book launch is supporting Sienna and the book.

Sienna attends St Wilfrid’s school in Crawley and a very proud headmaster, Mr Michael Ferry, was there to show the schools support.

He said:

“It’s amazing. She is a phenomenal young lady, and to think she is only in year 7 now and she is doing all this work.  She is a massive role model.  She seizes every opportunity and I know she is going to a be a star in the future.”

After her own brother was diagnosed with Autism, Sienna became increasingly aware that her brother was often misunderstood. Quirky sounds and behaviors on the playground or in assembly made him different and often stand out.

70% of children with autism are educated in mainstreams schools with a continued increase every year. It is also estimated that 60% of children with autism are bullied at mainstreams schools.

Sienna who is a Diana Anti-Bullying Ambassador wants to help create a change through her book.

She said “I want little children growing up in a world which teaches them to embrace difference. My brother has taught me so much and is a wonderful friend. Children like my brother just need to be given a chance”.

Last year charities, schools and parents campaigned for autism teacher training with a successful outcome. It was announced that autism will be now part of the core learning for teachers as part of their initial training from 2018.

Autism can present serious learning difficulties and there have been worries that children aren’t understood and supported properly by teachers who receive ‘patchy training’.

A NASUWT survey revealed six in ten teachers said they hadn’t been given the training required to teach autistic children.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said:

“More than 1 in 100 children are on the autism spectrum, and over 70 per cent go to mainstream schools, so every teacher will teach autistic students during their careers. Yet, autism training has historically not been mandatory for teachers, and some start school with no special educational needs training at all.”

The book hopes to support both primary school teachers and children to understand the disorder better and reduce bullying whilst promoting inclusiveness.

The launch also hopes to celebrate siblings often living in stressful family environments and who are sometimes forced to take a step back. Shining a spotlight on the wonderful work they do and contribution they make to their families and siblings.

‘Learning about Autism with Suzie and Cruzie’ features Sienna’s brother and was officially launched on 30th April 2018 hosted by sponsors Gatwick Hilton Hotel.

Sienna who dances for Pineapple Performing Arts in Covent Garden performed with local primary school children and fellow dance students to remind everyone that Autism Awareness isn’t just for one month.

Hosted on the last day of April and sending out over 25,000 books to schools across the UK, the powerful message of kindness and friendship will continue in schools for years to come.

The author and team members were supported by River Island and wore River Island’s Labels are for Clothes t-shirts from their recent campaign that champions diversity.

£3 from each t-shirt sale is donated to Ditch the Label, a leading international anti-bullying charity. River Island has a long history of empowering people through fashion and self-expression and are proud to unite in the conversation surrounding disabilities, offering their support to empowering children everywhere.


Local volunteers drive GPs to essential home visits in Crawley



Image: Dr Phoebe Danes and volunteer Chris Ball.

Local volunteers have stepped up to help drive clinicians to home visits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initiative was launched by local GP federation Alliance for Better Care, who have rented black cabs to provide essential transport for clinicians attending patients’ homes. 

The taxis, which have been adapted to make them easier to clean, are driven by volunteer drivers who have come forward via various community Facebook groups.

Thanks to the layout of the cab, drivers are completely separated from the clinician who is also afforded extra space in the cab to put on PPE and write up notes. 

Matt Cullis, practice manager at Leacroft Medical Practice said:

“Our surgery is still open to treat patients, however, home visits have become particularly important for those who are shielding and not wanting to leave their homes. This service saves us time and allows our doctors to travel to appointments in an environment that can be easily cleaned and has room to put on PPE.”

Alliance for Better Care is the GP federation for Crawley, Horsham, Mid-Sussex and East Surrey and so far the project has been rolled out at Leacroft Surgery in Crawley and throughout Burgess Hill, with plans to extend it to East Grinstead and Horley in the coming weeks.

Katherine Saunders, ABC chief executive said:

“We have been overwhelmed with the number of volunteers who have come forward and we’d like to thank them all for offering to support this service. We are, of course, committed to protecting both our volunteers and our clinicians. We insure drivers and carry out all necessary checks while also providing PPE. This is a valuable resource for our clinicians, and increases our capacity to reach more patients.”

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