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The National Autistic Society (NAS) has announced that The Vodafone UK Foundation is providing financial support for three key volunteer programmes over a period of three years. The donation of £850,000 will support the following programmes:-

Parent to Parent is a confidential telephone support service, provided by other volunteer parents, offered to parents of an adult or child with an autistic spectrum disorder. Part of the funding will be used to develop this helpline.

Befriending Scheme. NAS volunteer befrienders spend a few hours each week with a person with autism or their family. The Vodafone UK Foundation donation will ensure that the NAS can match more volunteers to more families and individuals.

Asperger syndrome Social Groups. This programme ensures that teenagers and young adults with Asperger syndrome meet in a safe environment to partake in leisure activities and skill learning.

Stuart Notholt, Director of Policy & Public Affairs for the NAS said, "Autism is now recognised as a much more widespread condition than was previously thought. The support of The Vodafone UK Foundation in these essential projects will make a real and positive difference to the lives of people with autism and their families."

"Both Vodafone and The National Autistic Society are in the communication field" commented Alan Harper, Trustee for The Vodafone UK Foundation. "Autism is a disorder that deprives people of the basic communication skills we take for granted. It makes perfect sense therefore for The Vodafone UK Foundation to support this extremely worthwhile organisation."

-ends-


For more information contact:
Ally Stevens Vodafone UK Public Relations
Tel: 07000 500 100
E-mail: press.office@vodafone.com <mailto:press.office@vodafone.com>

Hetty Grist or Ann Peebles The National Autistic Society
Tel: 0207 903 3539
E-mail: hcrist@nas.org.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS:
THE VODAFONE UK FOUNDATION
The Vodafone UK Foundation is a registered charity, partly funded by the Vodafone Group Foundation and from donations from Vodafone UK Limited.

The Vodafone UK Foundation's mission statement is to makes social investments that help the people of the UK to have fuller lives by:

*Enabling access to information and opportunities primarily via mobile technology

**Supporting the local communities in which Vodafone has a significant physical presence.

***Supporting Vodafone employees in their engagement in community activities

Support is focused on including the excluded, particularly those in the 16-25 and over 50s age groups.

More information can be obtained by visiting www.vodafoneukfoundation.org <http://www.vodafoneukfoundation.org&gt; or e-mailing thevodafoneukfoundation@vodafone.com

THE NATIONAL AUTISTIC SOCIETY
Autism (including Asperger syndrome) is a lifelong developmental disability. It is a spectrum disorder occurring in varying degrees of severity and affects more than an estimated 500,000 people in the UK. It is characterised by a triad of impairments that involve difficulties forming social relationships, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and a lack of imagination.

The National Autistic Society (NAS) is the UK's leading charity for people with autistic spectrum disorders and their families. In its 42nd year it continues to spearhead national and international initiatives and provide a strong voice for autism. The society provides a wide range of services to help people with autism and Asperger syndrome live their lives with as much independence as possible.

Autism Awareness Week 2004 will be held from 17-24 May. The focus will be on 'planning for life'. Autism is a lifelong disorder and we'll be looking at the position of ageing individuals with autism and their families and highlighting the issues faced during the many transition stages in life. The National Autistic Society (NAS) will be holding a number of exciting events around the UK during AAW 2004 including a conference, parliamentary reception, corporate fundraising challenge and regional awareness-raising activities. Journalists requiring further information or interviews with spokespeople or case studies should contact the NAS PR & Media team on 020 7903 3593 or out-of-hours on 07787 124 792 or email press@nas.org.uk

Published on: 12:00AM on 30th March 2004