What is MATES?
MATES stands for Meet At Toby’s & Engage Socially! It’s a monthly social group for children and young adults who have autism. We hold sessions during term-time, usually at the end of the month, on a Wednesday or Thursday evening. Depending on the activity, MATES is on between about 6pm and about 8:30pm. Every session is run and supervised by fully-trained Toby Henderson Trust staff.
What can I do at MATES?
The group’s aim is for children and young people to take part in an enjoyable social activity whilst making friends in a relaxed and supportive environment. Most MATES sessions take place at Toby House where there will be a range of activities to enjoy. We have special theme nights, where we cook, play games or watch a film. And we also go out for pizza, bowling, ice skating and the annual panto.
How does it work?
We know that not all children will want to do every activity, so there’s no obligation to come to all the sessions. Invitations are sent out at the beginning of the month with a date and time, and a description of what we will be doing in that month’s session. The child or young person then has control over their participation in the activity by choosing to take part or not.
A permission form is attached to to the invitation, to be returned with payment. We try to keep this as low as we can. Usually, it’s £10 to £20, depending upon the activity. This covers the cost of the activity and staffing. As an indication, in January 2017 we went to the panto at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. The cost of the ticket, staffing and a generous bag of sweets was £20.
Parents and carers drop the child/young person off at the Toby House, or other agreed venue, and then collect them afterwards at the agreed time and place. We’ll have your contact details, so we can call you if your child or young person is distressed or unhappy. But usually everyone has a great time!
How do I know if it’s for me?
MATES is suitable for children aged from ten years old to late teens. But it really depends on the child or young person. If you’d like to know if MATES is suitable for you, or for more information on how to join in the fun, contact Emma Cairns on 0300 365 3055, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.