Aberdeen autism support charity announces return of fundraising dinner

A-ND CEO Billy Alexander at the 2023 'Think Different Golf Day & Dinner'

AUTISM & Neurodiversity North Scotland (A-ND) has announced the return of its fundraising dinner following this year’s event which raised £46,000 for the Aberdeen-based autism support charity. 

Developed and organised in partnership with Aberdeen-based PR and marketing specialist ThinkPR, the ‘Think Different Dinner’ will return on Thursday the 23rd of May 2024 at Aberdeen’s Union Kirk venue. 

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This year, the event was sponsored by Global E&C and Serica Energy and provided A-ND with a profile-raising platform to connect with organisations and individuals from across the north of Scotland.  

The money raised through the ‘Think Different Dinner’ will contribute to A-ND’s plans for continued expansion and growth, allowing it to provide its life-changing services to more autistic and neurodivergent children, young people, adults and families, and their wider support networks across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, and north Scotland.

A-ND currently supports 150 neurodivergent individuals and families, with its business plan forecasting a rise to over 500 people by 2027.  With approximately 1% of the region’s population diagnosed autistic and a further 15% – 20% who are neurodiverse, A-ND’s growth would enable its team to provide crucial services to more people in need. 

The £46,000 raised during 2023’s dinner has contributed significantly to A-ND’s business plans, crucially supporting the launch and running of its mobile ‘Binky the Sensory Bus’ (Binky) initiative. Donated by Stagecoach Bluebird, the refurbished double decker bus provides children and young people with the chance to experience a multi-sensory environment that has proven benefits for development and regulation. Aiming to reach a minimum of 1,400 individuals and associated families across the region over the next 22 months, in partnership with SensationALL, this initiative will bring A-ND’s support to families who can’t reach its Aberdeen City Centre Playscheme.

Despite a successful year for the charity, A-ND requires more than £180,000 a year to exist and continue providing its current level of support through its Playscheme, Outreach, Binky and all its services. 

With the 2023 dinner exceeding all expectations, A-ND CEO Billy Alexander is aiming even higher for 2024: “This year, we were able to achieve a longstanding goal of ours in hosting our first ever dinner thanks to the support from ThinkPR. A success on all accounts, the support we received this year has provided us with an opportunity to build on the success and turn the dinner into an annual event – something we never would have thought possible this time last year.  

“In the months since the 2023 Think Different Dinner, we have seen the difference this additional funding has made to the number of individuals and families we have been able to support. This has been made possible by our sponsors and supporters who continue to believe and invest in the crucial work we are doing at A-ND. Next year, we are hoping to reach more individuals and families through our support in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, Moray and expanding into the Highlands & Islands – the Think Different dinner will go a long way to help us achieve that.”

In his role as Chairperson of the Board and CEO of sponsor Global E&C, Terry Allan is urging more companies to embrace the work that A-ND is doing:

“On a personal level as Chairperson and professionally through Global E&C, it’s a privilege to be able to support A-ND.   It has been hugely encouraging for our Board to see local business step forward to support the charity over recent years – it has been a game changer for A-ND and the number of families the team is able to reach.

Alongside the specialist support A-ND provides to families across north Scotland, the team has a key role to play in building awareness and education within our communities.  Societally we are understanding increasingly more about neurodiversity and the potential embracing those who think differently can have on our businesses, – this year’s event is testament to the amazing work A-ND can do with the additional fundraising and we are aiming to go further in 2024!”

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