The questions about who we are , our aims and what we do are addressed in the About Us section of the website.
- Are you a charity?
- Are members or trustees of NDSA paid?
- Are you operational and how do you actively provide public benefit?
- Are your activities for the benefit of the community?
- Do you have premises?
- How do you comply with the Equality Act 2010?
- How are you financed?
- How we manage volunteer applications?
- Do I become a member if I register on the forum?
- What about Neurodiversity?
- What is the cost of participating?
- What is the legal status?
- Who can become a member?
- Is the forum moderated?
1. What is the cost of participating?
Our forum and community are completely free of charge. The is no payment required at any time as a member of the forum. We are a voluntary not for profit organisation and welcome voluntary donations, but they are not in any way conditions for participating on the site.
2. Are members or trustees of NDSA paid?
No, our Directors are volunteers, donating their time. Within a period of 6 months our current Directors contributed as individuals about 260 volunteer-hours completely free of charge. We are a Community Interest Company and Directors have the right to be paid but choose not to. In accordance with the law, Directors and volunteers can be reimbursed for agreed expenses incurred in furthering our aims.
3. Are you a charity?
We are a Community Interest Company (CIC) limited by guarantee. This allows to limit the liability and enter contracts in the name of the CIC. By law a CIC is not considered a charity, but are acting in the interest of the community as described in our Mission (form CIC 36). Our aims are for the interest of the community. We are registered with the company house under the number 12230781.
4. Are you operational and how do you actively provide public benefit?
We are a new organisation starting up, building our website and getting off the ground. We were operating informally before converting into a Community Interest Company in December 2019. We provided submission to the Autism Strategy consultation and the consultation for the Harmful Content Online, our members as individuals provide support and advice on forums. We are launching our forum and are actively building the tools to carry out our aims.
5. Do I become a member if I register on the forum?
No, by registering on the forum / website you become a user of the forum. You are not becoming a member of the Community Interest Company (CIC) and are not committing to advocacy work. You can choose to become a member of the CIC later and as a separate process, but it is not compulsory or necessary for your use of the forum.
6. Are your activities for the benefit of the community?
Providing community support and peer advice to autistic adults in overcoming barriers and disadvantages of their disability is for the benefit of the community. Providing support for people with a particular disability is deemed to be supporting sufficiently large part of the community, hence is for the community benefit. It is also for the benefit of the community to tackle social exclusion and build capacity of autistic adults to support themselves and each-other, which we aim to achieve by enacting our plans.
7. What is the legal status
We are a Community Interest Company limited by guarantee. This is a common legal form for a limited liability community benefit social enterprise [link to the Resource centre https://www.resourcecentre.org.uk/information/legal-structures-for-community-and-voluntary-groups/]. We are registered with the Company House with the number 12230781.
8. Who can become a member?
Anyone can register on the forum. You don’t need to be a member to use the forum. Membership of the CIC is open to adults over 18 on autism spectrum, who share our aims and vision and are accepting the rules and Articles of Association of the CIC, following a decision by the Directors. To become a member, you need to apply to the Directors via ‘contact us’.
9. How do you comply with the Equality Act 2010?
We are an equal opportunity organisation for autistic people. We have an Equal Opportunity policy. Our focus on neurodivergent adults on the autism spectrum aims to mitigate the disadvantage autistic adults experience in society due to their autism. ‘Equality Act permits non-profit voluntary organisations to benefit people defined by reference to a ‘protected characteristic’, provided the restriction of benefits to people having that characteristic is justified in relation to the purpose. The courts will generally accept that a purpose benefits a sufficient section of the public if its beneficiaries are defined by a need, or a ‘protected characteristic’,, where the benefits are provided in order to tackle a particular disadvantage or need linked to that protected characteristic’, according to the guidance.
10. How is the organisation financed?
We are funded by private donations from members and are developing an operational site in line with our aims. We are actively applying for grants. If you feel our aims and activities are worthwhile, please support us by making an affordable donation and / or become a supporter.
11. Do you have premises?
Physical premises are not relevant to our aims. We operate on our forum and in our online collaborative space. We have a registered address.
We also have an active working team space on Slack. Slack is used by leading organisations like IBM, BBC, Ocado etc. as it enables remote teams to collaborate on the same platform. New joiners can see what’s already been discussed and shared rather than join a conversation mid-stream.
12. What about Neurodiversity
Although we are a home for autistic people (with or without co-occurring conditions) we promote the idea that there is a diversity in society. The cut off point between NT and Autistic is nuanced, we are proof of that in trying to help those that miss out on a diagnosis. There is a sliding scale from NT to Autistic. Our society is othering those that are different and sometimes is demonising them. We should be pushing for an understanding that we are not all the same and there should be more tolerance in society.
13. How we manage volunteer applications.
We will post volunteering opportunities on our Advocacy Forum and on Reach Volunteering.
We are open and committed to equal opportunities and welcome applications from all people with the required skills that want to contribute and support our aims as volunteers or even as directors if appropriate, as provided by our Articles of Association. Given the nature of our organisation we have to consider the volunteers’ motivation and fit with our aims as one of the factors amongst others.
We will invite candidates to an online discussion. Prior to this we may exchange with the candidate a few questions to consider. In the online meeting we will introduce ourselves and share key relevant information, the candidates will have every opportunity to ask questions and discuss. We may arrange additional online or face to face meetings as required.
14. Is the forum moderated?