The National Autistic Society has recently been working with Virgin Money on organisation which has shown great commitment to upskilling their staff in autism awareness.

Autism is part of daily life for approximately 1.1% of the population and 2.7 million families throughout the UK. The current diagnostic rate is steadily increasing as we become better at recognising and diagnosing different types of autism earlier.

Given its large volume of customers and employees, Virgin Money is working on a daily basis with thousands of autistic people, their families and friends. This is why they are collaborating with The National Autistic Society to provide an employee and customer experience which takes the particular needs of autistic people in mind. For this reason, 75 Virgin Money stores have signed up to Autism Hour in the week of 2 October 2017 to raise autism awareness and provide an accessible environment for autistic people.

Asperger’s syndrome, was not clinically defined or recognised as a diagnosis in the UK until 1994 - previously autism was more focused on those with higher support needs. People with Asperger syndrome are of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the learning disabilities that many autistic people have, but they may have specific learning difficulties. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language. A large portion of the working population are of an age where they would not have had access to diagnosis as a child, leaving a large number of people undiagnosed in the workplace. Employers are also recognising the wealth of strengths and talents autistic people possess. Recognising this, Virgin Money approached The National Autistic Society to start supporting both their employees and customers but also with the ambition of recruiting autistic talent. 

We have worked together to deliver training to managers and recruiters as well as delivering a Lunch and Learn Webinar to help reach as many employees as possible, with an overwhelmingly positive response:

I found the whole session amazing and I will certainly be more aware of how I communicate with an autistic person.

We also held a stall where we spoke with employees at Virgin Money from both a professional and personal capacity, “My nephew is autistic. He turns the TV up really loud and you pointed out to me that his senses may be heightened so made me think he may not be able to hear things properly. He’s not just being difficult. Thank you!”

Following our collaboration, we are delighted that Virgin Money is encouraging applications from those with a diagnosis of autism (including Asperger syndrome).