Staff from Progress to Excellence are leading the way to a better understanding in the local community of the needs of people with autism.

As part of the company’s commitment to becoming an “autism friendly” business, 15 employees attended a special training session run by the charity Autism Together to learn about the condition, how to spot if someone may be on the autism spectrum and how to support them if they appear anxious or distressed.

Such was the enthusiasm for the groundbreaking initiative that some staff are now planning to become Autism Champions, joining hundreds of others across Merseyside who are making massive strides in changing the lives of people with autism who are excluded from their own communities through lack of understanding and support.

In the 12 months since the launch of the Autism Champions initiative, campaigners have trained more than 600 people in autism awareness, many already making small changes to their premises, such as allocating a quiet room for use if someone needs time out or developing clearer signage.

Damian Burdin, chief executive at Progress to Excellence Ltd, said: “There is a great need to raise awareness in the community to the difficulties encountered by some people on the autistic spectrum who can sometimes be misjudged.

“As a company that believes everyone deserves to reach their full potential, I am certain that staff who become Autism Champions will help to make a huge difference to individuals and their families.”

The training day was held during World Autism Week when Progress to Excellence joined the global Light It Up Blue campaign to help increase understanding and acceptance of people on the autism spectrum.

As well as lighting its headquarters at the iconic Pacific Road building in Birkenhead blue, staff supported an attempt by Autism Together to beat the current Guinness World Record in trampolining, wore blue for a day and supported the charity’s 60s Music Night. Bistro No.4, the Progress to Excellence bistro at Pacific Road Business Hub, also served a selection of blue-themed food.

Wirral-based Autism Together is the Progress to Excellence chosen charity for 2017 and the two organisations are now working closely together on a programme of fundraising, volunteering and more awareness-raising of the condition that touches the lives of more than half-a-million people in the UK. Find out more about Autism Together here.