Voice for Autism, a new NGO that focuses on supporting young adults with disabilities build meaningful and connected lives, has secured the use of two new-build homes in Lakatamia, Nicosia.
The use of these properties was made possible by a generous donation from the Island Oil (Holdings) Group, and will be the first homes in Nicosia for people with autism.
Chrysostomos Papavassiliou, Founder and Managing Director, said the Island Oil (Holdings) Group is pleased to support an initiative that is innovative and necessary.
“As a Group, we are committed to supporting such meaningful projects that can assist those in need,” he said. “We believe all people have a place in civil society, have the right to have their human rights secure and to lead their lives with dignity and respect.”
The homes are next to each other and centrally located, close to amenities. They will serve as prototypes for future assisted-living homes with 24-hour care.
The model is one whereby the NGO, with its expertise and experience with autism, creates a permanent residence for autistic individuals. It will be a place called home, focusing on individual needs, and provide a stimulating and supportive environment. There is is an urgent need for such homes.
Ellen Georgiou Pontikis, Co-founder and President of Voice for Autism, says the NGO has a vision of a cooperative approach to setting up the Group Home. Families and professionals coming together to create a home, private enterprise to help their vision, and government to step in with increased subsidies to ensure the long-term sustainability of the endeavor.
“An EU Mandate clearly states that every person with disabilities has the right to independent living with the necessary supports,” Pontikis pointed out.
“We have the houses, we have the expertise, we have the support of private enterprise,” she continued. “We need the government in the equation and we are encouraged by the meetings we have had so far.
“It’s a new model and it’s a simple model: give every adult with disabilities an increased subsidy for rent and support.”
Voice for Autism has started a government lobbying campaign, backed by the NGO’s Advisory Committee, which includes Cyprus’ leading academics, psychologists and therapists who work in the special-needs sector, and who wish to see a change in civil society to support people with disabilities.
The NGO is also focused on social inclusion, and plans to open a café in the community where people with disabilities can work alongside their peers, so that they feel connected and develop their sense of self-worth.
The immediate goals of the NGO are:
- To create a group home providing independent and supported-living services for young adults with autism, so they can reach their fullest potential
- To provide employment opportunities for young people with autism. The focus is inclusion, productivity and developing their sense of self-worth
- To create and support high-quality programmes that maximise the potential of young people with autism and provide opportunities to participate at college campuses, volunteer centres, work sites, and other educational and recreational activities
- To advocate for inclusive communities and strategic initiatives to transform the national landscape for young adults with disabilities