Norwood unveils plans for new facility supporting people with severe autism
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Norwood unveils plans for new facility supporting people with severe autism

Joint president Lady Nicola Mendelsohn revealed the proposal at annual dinner event, which raised £3million and featured guest speaker Katie Piper

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

From left: Lady Nicola Mendelsohn, Katie Piper, Lady Estelle Wolfson, Orly Wolfson. Credit: Blake Ezra Photography 2019
From left: Lady Nicola Mendelsohn, Katie Piper, Lady Estelle Wolfson, Orly Wolfson. Credit: Blake Ezra Photography 2019

Norwood has unveiled plans to establish a new facility for people living with severe autism.

Nicola Mendelsohn, joint president of Norwood, which provides a lifeline to families in crisis and lifelong support to people with learning disabilities and autism, revealed the proposal in front of 1,000 guests at the charity’s annual dinner, held at Grosvenor House Hotel on Monday night.

Lady Mendelsohn told guests at the event, which raised £3million for the charity: “We will get our accommodations services right. Our detailed planning has told us that meeting demand over the next decade will require us to grow our accommodation services by 4 per cent per year.

“More specifically, we will develop our capacity to manage severe autism, including the establishment of a new complex autism supported-living facility.”

Following the event, Norwood’s chief executive, Dr Beverley Jacobson, elaborated: “We are currently in the early stages of considering two properties for this purpose.

“The planning and preparation for this new facility still has some way to go, but we have already identified significant funds with which to kick start this project at the appropriate time and we hope to be in a position to make a formal announcement in the new year.”

Maria Friedman and Carol Sopher Credit: Blake Ezra Photography 2019

She added: “I recently undertook a Norwood Challenge in Croatia, cycling more than 400km on a tandem with my eldest daughter, Talya, who is disabled.

“Together, we raised more than £50,000, which we are keen should be used to provide a home for another person like my daughter to be able to enjoy their independence, and so it would be great to see the proceeds of our efforts channelled in this way.

This year’s annual dinner focused on how Norwood enables and encourages all of the people it supports to live “Extra-Ordinary Lives”.

Guest speaker, Katie Piper, drew a standing ovation after speaking about her own “Extra-Ordinary” experience and how she learnt to “let go of the life that she had thought should happen and love the life that is actually happening”.

Katie Piper. Credit: Blake Ezra Photography 2019

She told the room how revisiting the scene of the crime against her – an acid attack in 2008 that took place in broad daylight on Golders Green Road – had helped her to turn her life around.

“Something happened that day,” she said. “People gave me small smiles and I felt no discrimination and no judgement. That was the moment when I started to see my differences as my strengths.”

The evening was brought to a close by Tony-winning musical actress Maria Friedman and fellow members of the cast of the recent smash hit production of Fiddler on the Roof.

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