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Meet the Autism Champion of Croydon

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This week my guest on Women’s Radio Station’s weekly ‘All things Autism’ show is Jerry Fitzpatrick, Arun Thapar, Pamela Edwards and Mala Thapar.

Jerry Fitzpatrick is an Autism Champion for Croydon Council and an experienced local politician who is a retired lawyer and a semi-retired teacher. He keeps his hand in as a teacher by running an English Literature class for the Workers Educational Association. Jerry has been a political activist and campaigner all his adult life; at the age of 16 in 1968 he went on his first demonstration, which was against the Vietnam War. Jerry has always lived in Croydon: he first served on Croydon Council for 16 years between 1986 and 2002, during which time he became Deputy Leader of Croydon’s first ever Labour Council. He returned to the Council at the 2018 local elections and was appointed as Autism Champion.

Arun Thapar is doing work experience with our charity and part of his role was to look after Jerry and experience various aspects of Mala Thapar’s role as a Charity Champion.

Pamela Edwards is an experienced Teaching Assistant from Arun’s school, Baston House School who attended to observe the work placement.

Arun shared: ‘I really enjoyed my work experience with Anna Kennedy Online and learned so much about websites, podcasts and thoroughly enjoyed meeting Jerry and asking him questions on live radio and gained so much from this involvement. I would like to say thank you to Anna for this opportunity as it has made me feel confident.’

Jerry discussed his role, and how Healthwatch Croydon are involved and his Hear Autism initiative. There were key discussions about Croydon Carers and concerns on EHCPs and how health services need to work together and raise awareness within Croydon.

Jerry shared: ‘As Croydon’s Autism Champion, I have the exciting task of trying to make things better for those of our 400,000 residents who are autistic. Between four to six thousand Croydonians are on the spectrum. One of the great parts of my job is meeting wonderful young people like Arun. He was able to teach me a lot about contemporary music, and particularly about Calvin Harris. Dr Anna Kennedy was fortunate enough to have the assistance of Arun to interview me. They asked me some interesting questions. Good luck to Arun and good luck to Dr Kennedy, who does so much good work to ensure that the talents of autistic people can bloom and grow.’

If you missed Jerry’s interview it is available to listen to everyday at 1pm until Monday at Women’s Radio Station

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