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The Donaldson Trust Scotland’s National Centre for Neurodiversity

Laura Watkins from The Donaldson Trust

The Donaldson Trust today sets out its ambition to become the national centre for neurodiversity in Scotland, supporting a wide range of people with often hidden neurological conditions such as Autism Spectrum, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourette’s and social anxiety.
 
Aiming to increase understanding and improve the experiences of people with neurodiversities, the Trust, headquartered in Linlithgow, has set out its aims in a 10-year strategy which launches today (27 January) in conjunction with a new brand identity.
 
The Donaldson Trust, Scotland’s leading charity for neurodiversity, launches its ambitious strategy at a time when an estimated one in seven people in the UK, more than 15% of the population, are neurodivergent¹.
 
The Donaldson Trust is supporting people and organisations to understand that being neurodivergent means that an individual’s brain is wired differently and that they may think and learn in a different way to others. For some people, their neurodiversity can mean that they are better at some things than many other people and for others additional support or adjustments are required.
 
Established in 1850, the Donaldson Trust has provided much needed education and other support throughout its history. Today marks a new chapter for the Trust which has developed over the years from a hospital for destitute children, into a school which previously supported deaf and hearing-impaired children and young people in Edinburgh. In more recent years the Trust has grown to provide educational services for children with complex additional support needs, and transitional support services for young people with neurodiversities. The Trust has been led by chief executive Laura Watkins since 2014, supported by the Governors of the Donaldson Trust.
 
Within its ambitious new strategy, the Trust sets out its plans for a national centre for neurodiversity. Currently supporting children and young people across the central belt, the Trust aims to work in collaboration with individuals, partnerships and businesses to develop services and increase knowledge and understanding of neurodiversity and improve the experiences of neurodivergent people across Scotland.
 
The Donaldson Trust will also ensure that the voices of neurodivergent individuals are at the forefront of driving change in policy and practice through its work with individuals, partners and the Scottish Government, with the aim of ensuring neurodiversity is incorporated into educational policy and workplace practice.
 
Laura Watkins, chief executive of the Donaldson Trust, said: “Today marks an exciting new chapter in the Donaldson Trust history, as we set out our aims to support and advocate with and for people with neurodiversities at a national level.
 
“Our 10-year strategy ensures that the Trust extends its reach to a wider group of people across Scotland by providing a range of services that promote and support the needs of neurodivergent individuals.
 
“As Scotland’s leading charity for neurodiversity we will promote and develop good practice related to neurodiversity within education services, organisations and businesses. We will work in collaboration with partners to improve accessibility and inclusivity for neurodivergent people, and through our work with neurodivergent individuals will improve the representation of neurodiversity socially, politically and culturally.
 
“Through the implementation of our ambitious strategy we will continue to grow a community of partners and partnerships that support neurodiversity throughout Scotland. Our strategy will ensure the Donaldson Trust is known and respected as the national centre for neurodiversity in Scotland by 2030.”
 
The Donaldson Trust provides a number of services to support children and young people. The Learning Centre currently supports young people with complex additional support needs up to the age of 18, providing tailored educational services to meet the individual needs of each pupil, as one of seven grant aided special schools. 
 
The Trust’s #JunX10n service supports neurodiverse young people aged between 14 and 25 during their transition into adulthood. #JunX10n provides a safe space, guidance, mentoring, bespoke person-centred plans and support for each individual and their family.
 
The Trust has also established Connect, a service which provides individual and team support tailored to specific and organisational needs to support neurodivergent people in the workplace, in education establishments and within the community.
 
For more information on the Donaldson Trust visit www.donaldsons.org.uk.

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