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Ulster University and partners recently welcomed delegates to a two-day cross-border conference looking at youth work in the context of children and young people with autism, at the Millennium Forum in Derry~Londonderry.

The Autism: Belonging and Inclusion Conference brought together the local community and voluntary organisations to gain insight into the challenges faced by youth workers, and expert speakers shared best practice in the context of supporting children and young people with autism. Attendees also had the opportunity to part in practical workshops to share their experiences and visit exhibit booths.

Guest speakers included Chris Bonnello, creator of Autistic not Weird and author of the Underdogs series, Jude Morrow, founder of Neurodiversity Training International, Evaleen Whelton from AUsome Training, and Anne Walsh, manager of National Youth Council of Ireland’s Equality and Intercultural Programme, as well as representatives from the project partners.

The Autism: Belonging and Inclusion Conference was delivered in partnership with Action Mental Health, Co-operation Ireland, the Youth Work Alliance, the Playtrail, Northwest Youth Services, Education Authority and Donegal Youth Service.

The funding for this event was provided by a consortium including the Education Authority, Youth Work Alliance and European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Course Director for Community Youth Work and Director of The Centre for Youth Research and Dialogue at Ulster University, Dr Breda Friel said:

“Ulster University is delighted to be part of this collaborative project to enhance both knowledge and practice for youth workers in the context of supporting children and young people with autism.

“This cross-border conference has put inclusion as a priority while striving to improve the experience of young people with autism who access youth work projects. This is an area of great importance to us in the Community Youth Work Department at Ulster University and we look forward to continuing our work in this field.”

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If you would like to find out more about the conference and its outputs, contact Dr Breda Friel by email at