Big Day In

Judith Jones

Saturday’s Big Day In is an event I have been looking forward to for months.

Big Day In is produced by Michelle Rebello of local autism support group, Aspergers Adventures – Minecraft and Meltdowns, as a free autism-friendly Saturday afternoon for members, friends and families of the group.

Since this regular event has been such a success, it returns bigger than ever before and Embecosm is extremely proud and pleased to be able to support it. We will be running our popular Shrimp workshop and will provide hands-on help throughout the day.

Local support services and businesses attend Big Day In to provide advice and fun demonstrations, for families and friends of people with autism.

The event has attracted mainline media attention in the past and rumour has it that ITV will be along to meet everyone on Saturday, so needless to say, there is great buzz of excitement and expectation among the Minecraft and Meltdowns community.

This event provides an incredibly valuable opportunity for people with autism, and their families and friends, to connect together and relax with like-minded people who understand what is like to live with autism — a lifelong developmental delay that affects how a person understands the world and communicates with others.

Autism can have a profound effect on the senses, which means leaving the house can become overwhelming, so the Big Day In will provide a place where families can be themselves. People are invited to take their shoes off, wear costumes or comfortable clothes, ear defenders or any other sensory aids that they might not feel able to in public. There will also be a chill-out zone and quiet areas to help them cope

In my recent blog post about HackSoton 2017, I talked about Embecosm’s responsibility to give something back to our local, technical and wider communities. This strong social purpose is lead from the top by our CEO, Dr Jeremy Bennett.

Embecosm’s involvement with Big Day In re-affirms how important it is for us to connect with the wider community in a meaningful way and the benefits of doing so.

So, here are my thoughts on the matter:

There are a lot of parallels between a commercial  business and a community group that can help us forge relationships through our understanding of the challenges they face.

When I think of the people I know who work in the voluntary and community sector, they all have drive, passion and commitment to meet their aims and objectives. Drive, passion and commitment are worthy qualities we are familiar with in the corporate world; they lead to business success.

Charities and community groups face the same statutory regulation and scrutiny as businesses — and need the same skill-sets as businesses to ensure compliance.

Businesses and community groups operate within a legal framework. As a business, we know the level of resources required to operate and so are well placed to understand how to connect with our wider community in a meaningful way, through sponsorship and in-kind support.

Community groups, charities and social enterprises are increasingly providing essential services to their community and are competing for funding from the same public funding pots. They struggle to be financially sustainable without the support of donations and sponsorship.

It may be considered cynical to view ‘giving’ as a business transaction that is mutually beneficial, however, this can be illustrated through Embecosm’s involvement with Big Day In.

I know that in return for our involvement, I will  have a thoroughly good time; I will go to work on Monday with a greater sense of well-being and a greater understanding of Embecosm’s place in society. I will have a better understanding of autism and will have a new network of people who will be able to advise Embecosm in our quest to be a truly equal opportunities employer, and I will feel good because I will have helped someone in some way during the event to achieve something meaningful.

At this point, I would like to ignore ‘the elephant in the room’, but in the interests of uncomfortable honesty, I cannot. For any business undertaking support within their community, there is marketing capital to be gained through reputation and publicity.

Let us all continue to embrace our wider communities by sharing our capital — both social and financial — to  make a real and lasting difference to society.

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