This year Daisy Chain is celebrating its 15th anniversary of providing support and services for families in the Tees Valley affected by autism.
With support from players of People's Postcode Lottery, Daisy Chain now offers respite, activities, social clubs, advice and a haven for 2,000 families. This includes 300 children each week as well as 37 adults on the autistic spectrum.
Daisy Chain was set up in 2003, the dream of its founder Lesley Hanson, whose son Jacob was diagnosed with autism at an early age.
Lesley quickly became aware of the issues facing parents and carers of children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. She wanted to create a haven for families, somewhere they could go for support and enjoy activities as a family.
Sadly, Lesley died, aged just 35, in 2004 after a routine operation.
Now 15 years on, her family and son Jacob remain delighted that Daisy Chain has continued to grow and expand its services to families affected by autism.
The 5.5-acre site has undergone major development over the last 15 years. A day centre costing £1 Million opened in 2010. There are also sensory gardens, play areas and the farm now offers entry level two and three qualifications in animal care.
In 2014, the group opened its first superstore charity shop at Portrack Lane and it was so successful that in 2015 it moved into a larger premises next door. Today, as well as bringing in vital income to support the work of the charity, supported work placements and an employability course are provided there.
Jacob said, "Like the old saying goes from small acorns do mighty oaks grow, and after 15 years in the making it's amazing to see Daisy Chain blossom. Myself and the rest of my family are all pleased with the great impact Daisy Chain has made in caring for those on the spectrum and raising awareness of autism."
Getting the right help for an autistic child is a full-time job and emotional rollercoaster. Beth Millican is grateful to Daisy Chain for giving her the confidence she needs to make sure she gets the right support for her four-year-old daughter Nikita.
Caring for Nikita can be exhausting. Beth said, "Nikita doesn't sleep very much at all and she is hyperactive, so it can be very hard at times which is why we love having Daisy Chain to come to for a break."
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People's Postcode Lottery, said, "Daisy Chain provides invaluable services to children with autism and their families and we are so pleased that players have been able to support this wonderful charity over the years, receiving a total of £1,581,878 to date from Postcode Children Trust."