A newly established NGO called Voice for Autism aspires to set up the first 24/7 group home where young adults with disabilities can “reach their full potential”.

Voice for Autism: Advocacy & Action focuses on supporting young adults with disabilities to build meaningful, connected lives. It was founded by a group of concerned parents and professionals united in the belief they have to secure basic human rights and give a voice to young adults with disabilities.

“We give a voice to all young adults with disabilities who are seeking a place in a civil society and who have basic rights to live a life with dignity and respect,” president of Voice for Autism Ellen Georgiou Pontikis said.

They plan to use their expertise to set up a group home in Nicosia.

This first home will serve as a prototype for future group homes. The model is one whereby the NGO, with its expertise and experience with autism, partners with government and private enterprise to create a residence that will be a permanent home for the autism community.

There is currently no such facility in Nicosia and there is an urgent need for such homes, the group added.

Pontikis has a 27-year-old son who is autistic and has experienced first-hand how successful group homes and work programmes work overseas.

“There is no reason we can’t have similar programmes in Cyprus,” she said.

“The law is on our side, and we need to get the government on our side as we begin to put much-needed programmes in place. Civil societies around the world are taking note that the autism population is growing, moreover it is ageing, and resources need to be made available.”

The president of the charity stressed how people with disabilities have a right to independent living.

“There are EU mandates in place that state people with disabilities have a right to independent and supportive living services and our goal is to give them a voice in achieving these basic human rights.”