Autonomie is the new name for youth disability organisation The Lilac Service. The organisation, which has over 8 years’ experience, supporting children and young people with different physical disabilities throughout Northern Ireland is now called Autonomie in a bid to better reflect its mission.
The move comes after the organisation decided to extend its scope of services after it carried out a consultation asking young people leaving special schools, if they felt they were getting enough support to make informed choices about their future.
Many of the disabled young people questioned said they felt overwhelmed with the prospect of leaving school, were fearful of becoming lonely and isolated, were afraid of making wrong choices and believed there were few opportunities available to them.
In response Autonomie launched “After School Survival”, a training and support programme to help give disabled school leavers the skills and confidence to enable them to live more independently, and make the most of their life after school.
Trevor Boyle, Volunteer Coordinator, said that the relaunch could only have been achieved thanks to the dedication of its volunteers, and that the change will also raise awareness of the organisation and disability in young people in general.
He said: “We believe Autonomie will help us raise awareness of everything we do to help young people with disabilities. Many don’t know about the support we provide, or that we’re here for the parents of new born; siblings; teachers; classroom assistants and others.
"Since 2005 we have helped to improve the independence and quality of life of 127 disabled young people in 88 schools who have chosen to attend mainstream education. The service is available free of charge to all schools in Northern Ireland.
“We felt it was the right time to look to the future with renewed hope, renewed determination, and a revitalised brand.
“Having a more readily identifiable brand will be key to the success of this mission and we’re very hopeful that the new name Autonomie will give us just that.”
Autonomie held a ceremony on Wednesday 10th February to mark its name change. The event which took place at Haptik coffee and arts centre in Newtownards, County Down and is owned by Jonathan and Rachel McBride who have links with the organisation.
Jonathan McBride, Haptik Coffee and Art owner said: “Rachel and I are both thrilled to be involved with the relaunch. Autonomie is a fantastic organisation and a vital support for these young people and their families.
“There’s a great sense of positivity and can-do attitude at Autonomie, something which both Rachel and I strive to achieve in our own business and personal lives.
“Autonomie delivers much needed services and we are proud to support this organisation which helps empower young people with additional needs to reach their potential.”
A website, logo and brochure have been launched following the change.
Mr Boyle said the charity’s new strapline “Freedom 2Choose” places a greater emphasis on the charity’s mission.
He said: “The rollout was timed to follow Autonomie’s office move to save the cost of updating marketing materials twice.”
Back in 2010 the organisation received UK wide recognition when it was named UK outstanding education team in The Guardian's Teaching Awards for its work in integrating disabled pupils into mainstream schools.