For the past few years, GAS has combined its AGMs with a Members’ Social Event with food, refreshments, a presentation, and an opportunity for people to meet. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was obvious several months ago, that this would not be possible, so it was decided to take the AGM online using Zoom.
On Wednesday 28th October, our AGM was held by video conference. Our Chairperson, Dorothy Daldry, presided and was assisted on the IT side by one of our newest Board Members, Kerry Buist. The formal part of the meeting was fairly standard: Minutes from last year’s AGM, an update on the accounts, reappointment of auditors, reappointment of retiring directors, followed by the Chairperson’s report and a presentation and report by Lisa Moir, Senior Autism Practitioner, on behalf of the Leadership Team.
Both reports focused on the effect that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have on our services. However it was stressed that the Society had continued to provide services in challenging conditions since the beginning of the March Lockdown, and continued to do so, albeit with some services now conducted either online or by telephone, with thanks paid to both staff and volunteers.
Much of the year, board wise, has been spent trying to gauge what effect the Covid restrictions would have on services, along with the effect changes to service provision and contracts, currently being brought in by Aberdeen City Council would have for our service users and ourselves. The Board has been reviewing our strategy for the short to medium terms, with the result that some changes to our services, including additional services are currently being planned.
The AGM was attended by 19 people: 14 members, two appointed directors (non-members), with three staff members in attendance, and after the formal business was dealt with, all attendees were invited to attend a Breakout Session of their choice covering: Adult Services, Children’s Services, General Support, and Fundraising.
Sadly, there was only time for a 15-minute session; however, there was some excellent discussions and the following items were discussed: and will be followed up in the coming months
Schools and the lack of support available with the need for an effective education advocacy service
The implications of COVID-19 and its effect on Adult services
Local Support Groups and opportunities to socialise for both families and adults on the spectrum
Broad based advocacy and benefits advice, including online signposting to other sources of information including a FAQs page
An acknowledgement that fundraising, external communications and general engagement are intrinsically linked and should be brought under one umbrella, with more input sought from those on the Spectrum.
Feedback from those who attended was positive with the view expressed that going online allowed not only far flung members to attend, but it meant that parents could attend who otherwise might not have been able to.
Special thanks to Kerry for organising the meeting.