Autism charity ‘secures future’ by merging into larger organisation

01 Nov 2023 News

Allison Henbest is interim CEO and operations director at Autism Hampshire, and Jo Land is CEO of Avenues Group.

A Hampshire-based charity has merged into a larger autism support organisation amid a challenging climate for social care charities, it has announced. 

Autism Hampshire said in a statement that it had been looking for a merger partner for some time to protect its services for the future. 

The charity said its trustees and those of Avenues Group, which operates across the south east of England, unanimously agreed to the merger after due diligence checks and members have also voted in its favour.  

In their latest filed accounts for March 2022, Autism Hampshire had a total income of £4m while Avenues Group had a revenue of £47m. 

Avenues Group stated on its website that the merger “offers us, as well as Autism Hampshire, more security in a challenging sector”.

Autism Hampshire: ‘Delighted to have secured the future for its staff’

Autism Hampshire was registered as a charity in 1983 and has been operating with a total income of around £4m for the last five years.  

Its accounts ending March 2022 show a deficit of £624,000 compared to a £79,400 surplus in the previous financial year. 

The charity’s expenditure was the highest in a five-year period in 2022 at £4.75m. 

Autism Hampshire grew after 16 supported living houses came under its provision in 2022, adding to the nine it already operated. This increased the amount of staff employed by the charity. 

Its accounts state that while these living services are funded through local authority contracts, it was expecting an increase in wider expenditure over the next three years due to the increase in services and resources required to support them. 

Jonathan Hardie, executive chair of Autism Hampshire, said: “Autism Hampshire is delighted to have secured the future for its staff, services, and the people that we serve by joining forces with such an established and respected organisation as Avenues.  

“This merger allows Autism Hampshire to continue to operate and grow off a more stable financial basis.

“It will see appropriate investment in the staff and the organisation that can only be to the benefit of those that we serve, which has always been the abiding aim of Autism Hampshire.”

Avenues Group: ‘Long-term sustainable support’

Jo Land, CEO at Avenues Group, said: “Autism Hampshire is an organisation that Avenues have long admired, and we see strong alignment between their support for people and ours.

“The opportunities that this merger brings for long-term sustainable, quality support for people are exceptional. 

“As a group, we can go on to deliver even better outcomes for the people we support and employ which is what we are both all about.

“These are exciting times for both organisations and I am looking forward to what we can achieve together.”

In 2016, a housing association called Welmede also merged into Avenues Group. 

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