Spectrum Celebrates 40th Anniversary of St Erme

We are delighted to be celebrating 40 years since the opening of our first homes at St Erme, supporting autistic adults to reach their full potential and lead fulfilling lives by being active members of their community and playing valued social roles. On this special occasion, we want to look back at our history to see how much we have accomplished in this time, and to celebrate our incredible team members, service users and the individuals who made all this possible.

The idea behind Spectrum was first realised in the early 1970s, when a group of parents with children diagnosed with autism were very concerned to find that no appropriate education facilities existed for them in Devon and Cornwall. This small group of parents, supported by enthusiastic friends, formed a charity, the Devon and Cornwall Society for Autistic Children, and worked hard to raise funds to establish the first boarding school at a property they purchased in Gulworthy.

At the end of the 1970s, they turned their attention to the problem of providing care for their children when they reached adulthood. The name of the charity was then changed to the Devon and Cornwall Autistic Society and in 1982, they purchased an old rectory at St Erme, near Truro, which would become the first care home for adolescents and adults. To run this service, it was decided to form a subsidiary organisation, the Devon and Cornwall Autistic Community Trust, which later became a charity in its own right, and is now known as Spectrum.

Ever since, Spectrum has continued to expand, and we are now proud to run 17 adult residential homes and one children’s home, which provide a safe and nurturing environment for the 100 individuals we support. In 2005 we also opened the doors to our school, the Three Bridges Education Centre, where our committed and creative team of teachers and assistants provide individually tailored lessons to help young people develop new skills and learn at their own pace.

We have high ambitions when it comes to the future, looking to expand so we can support more individuals with autism to lead active lives in their communities. We are currently fundraising for a dedicated arts centre, a new school, and holiday accommodation in close vicinity to our homes, for those visiting their loved ones.

Over the years, our team has grown to include over 450 fully trained members of staff who are doing an amazing job supporting autistic children and adults to live rewarding and fulfilling lives. We believe it is even more important to celebrate the huge achievements of our staff this year, as the Covid-19 pandemic has presented many challenges, transforming the way we care for and support our residents. The lockdown measures have been especially difficult for those in our care, as the pandemic has changed and disrupted their routines, leaving them more vulnerable. We could not be prouder of the teams and their continued dedication to the service users and the charity.

Since we opened St Erme 40 years ago, we have been guided by our mission to make a positive difference in the lives of autistic adults and children. To raise awareness of autism across the country, four of our team members will be embarking on a two-week charity cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats, with the ambitious fundraising goal of £10,000. With around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK, we want to ensure that everyone understands that autistic people are unique individuals, with different needs and abilities, and that with the right, targeted help, they can thrive in their communities and play an active role in society.

We at Spectrum want to thank all who have supported us over the past 40 years, and we are looking forward to an exciting future finding new ways to help better the lives of autistic adults and children.