Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Alarming Decline in UK Youth Confidence and Happiness Revealed by Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index 2022

Alarming Decline in UK Youth Confidence and Happiness Revealed by Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index 2022

Alarming Decline in UK Youth Confidence and Happiness Revealed by Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index 2022


On the 23rd of February 2022, the Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index for 2022 issued a warning. It revealed that one in four young people in the United Kingdom believe that they will never fully recover from the emotional toll inflicted by the pandemic, leading to a historic low in their confidence and happiness levels.


The Youth Index, an annual survey conducted by YouGov involving 2,106 individuals aged 16 to 25 across the UK, paints a stark picture of the impact of the pandemic on the younger generation. Those facing disadvantages and unemployment exhibited significantly lower overall well-being, with a staggering 25% stating that they consistently experience anxiety.


Shockingly, almost half, or 48%, of all young people reported grappling with mental health issues, highlighting the widespread distress caused by the pandemic. Furthermore, nearly half of these young individuals, amounting to 48%, expressed feeling “burnt out,” while 46% experienced self-loathing. Additionally, 36% revealed that the pandemic had a lasting negative effect on their stress levels, with 46% stating that their mental health had deteriorated, and 44% admitting to heightened anxiety levels.


These disheartening findings underscore the need for immediate action to support the emotional well-being of the nation’s youth. Jonathan Townsend, UK Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust, emphasised the urgency, describing the pandemic as a lasting scar on young people in the UK. He called for cooperation between businesses, government, and charities to equip young individuals with the skills and confidence necessary to face the future with optimism.


Aside from emotional well-being, financial concerns weigh heavily on young people’s minds. A third of them, equating to 33%, expressed unhappiness with their financial situation, while 47% claimed they never have enough money left at the end of the month for savings after covering their expenses.


Alison Rose, Chief Executive of NatWest Group, echoed the importance of prioritising young people’s well-being and nurturing their potential. The partnership between NatWest and The Prince’s Trust aims to dismantle both real and perceived obstacles, enabling thousands of young people to overcome challenges and envision a brighter future. These findings serve as a poignant reminder of the collective responsibility to safeguard the welfare and aspirations of the youth in the face of such adversity.


The full report can be found here:



28th January 2024

Quick Bite: The Definition of Disability in s6 of the Equality Act 2010

Quick Bite: The Definition of Disability in s6 of the Equality Act 2010

Quick Bite: The Definition of Disability in s6 of the Equality Act 2010


The Equality Act 2010 (referred to as ‘the Act’) aims to prevent discrimination and promote equal opportunities for all, irrespective of certain protected characteristics, including disability. In this context, disability is defined as the presence of a physical or mental impairment that significantly and enduringly hinders an individual’s capacity to engage in typical day-to-day activities.


Let’s delve deeper into the particulars:


  1. Physical or Mental Impairment: To qualify as having a disability under the Equality Act 2010, an individual must possess a physical or mental condition affecting their physical well-being or mental state. This encompasses conditions such as physical disabilities (e.g., an inability to walk unaided) or so called ‘mental disorders’ (like severe depression, autism, or anxiety).
  2. Substantial Effect: The impairment should exert a substantial influence on an individual’s life. It implies genuine difficulties in performing routine tasks that most individuals execute without much difficulty. For instance, a severe back injury preventing someone from lifting even light objects qualifies as a substantial effect.
  3. Long-term: The Act specifies that the disability’s impact should be long-lasting, expected to persist or has persisted for at least a year or more. It signifies more than a transient issue, acknowledging that disabilities can endure over a significant period or for a person’s lifetime.
  4. Day-to-Day Activities: The disability should significantly hinder a person’s capacity to carry out regular, everyday activities. These encompass tasks such as dressing, meal preparation, using public transport, how education is arranged or employment. If the ‘impairment’ makes these activities significantly more difficult, it is likely to be categorised as a disability under the Act.


For an individual to receive the protections identified in the Act, they must meet the definition of disability it contains. A mere diagnostic label is insufficient, except in the case of “deemed disabilities.” These are conditions recognised by the Equality Act 2010 as disabilities, even if they do not fully meet the specific criteria detailed above. Examples of deemed disabilities include cancer, HIV, and multiple sclerosis. The Act acknowledges that these conditions can substantially impact an individual’s life, even if they do not consistently lead to substantial and long-term effects. It’s worth noting that autism is not considered a deemed disability for the Act’s purposes; this is often that surprises many people. Having said that, autistic people certainly can satisfy the definition, it’s just that they may have to prove that they do so if they want to be protected by the statute.


In summary, the Equality Act 2010 defines disability as a physical or mental condition that significantly and enduringly impedes an individual’s ability to perform normal day-to-day activities. Moreover, specific conditions like cancer and HIV are regarded as disabilities under the Act, even if they do not entirely fulfil the specific criteria. This ensures protection against discrimination for individuals with these conditions as well.

One Year On: The Influence of ‘Stop and Search: Guidance for Autistic People and Police Officers’

One Year On: The Influence of ‘Stop and Search: Guidance for Autistic People and Police Officers’

One Year On: The Influence of ‘Stop and Search: Guidance for Autistic People and Police Officers’




It has been a year since the release of the document entitled “Stop and Search: Guidance for Autistic People and Police Officers.” In this period, we have witnessed the significant impact this document has had on both the policing community and autistic individuals. In this update, we will delve deeper into the document’s reception, the positive feedback it has garnered, its continued relevance, and the potential future directions it may take.


The Document’s Reception:


Since its release, the document has received widespread acclaim from various quarters. All police services across the UK were promptly provided with copies of this vital guidance. The response from the police services has been overwhelmingly positive. Officers have welcomed the comprehensive insights and guidance it offers, acknowledging its potential to improve their interactions with autistic individuals during a stop and search.


While Police and Crime Commissioners also received copies of the document, their enthusiasm was somewhat more measured. This variation in response highlights the need for ongoing engagement and education at various levels of policing governance. It is imperative that all stakeholders, including commissioners, fully comprehend the importance of this guidance and its potential to positively impact the lives of autistic individuals.


The continued need to understand autism and the legal framework mandating reasonable adjustments remains an ongoing endeavour. The document serves as a cornerstone in this ongoing journey, providing essential knowledge and practical advice for police officers on the ground.


Positive Feedback:


The document’s reception has not only been positive but transformative. It has ignited a spark of awareness and empathy within many police services, fostering a more inclusive and supportive approach towards autistic individuals. The guidance has also been incorporated into new and existing training programmes, ensuring that its valuable insights are disseminated widely.


Serving police officers have praised the document’s accessibility, which has allowed them to enhance their knowledge and skills in supporting autistic individuals during stop and search encounters. Autistic individuals themselves have expressed deep gratitude for shining a spotlight on a subject that is often discussed but rarely comprehensively explained. Many people have also commended the document for its ability to address complex topics in a clear and accessible manner, making it a valuable resource not only for the police but for the wider community as well.


Co-author Detective Superintendent Dion Brown summarised the influence of the guidance document as follows:


“I have been delighted with the significantly positive response to the Stop and Search Guidance document over the last 12 months. I have been contacted by officers from across the UK who have utilised the knowledge gained from reading the guidance during interactions with autistic individuals. In addition, UK forces have been utilising it as a valuable resource to provide awareness raising sessions and training to their staff. I am hopeful that during the next 12 months, we will be in a position to launch a training video for officers and staff, utilising the scenarios featured within the guidance document.”


Looking Ahead:


As we celebrate the one-year milestone of this impactful document, we eagerly anticipate more feedback and welcome suggestions for potential improvements. The document is not static; it is a living resource that can evolve and adapt to better serve the needs of autistic individuals and the police force.


We also look forward to working on similar initiatives that promote inclusivity, understanding, and collaboration between the police and the communities they serve. The success of “Stop and Search: Guidance for Autistic People and Police Officers” serves as a testament to the positive outcomes that can be achieved when the Metropolitan Police Service and other agencies collaborate constructively with the communities they support and, in the vast majority of cases, are genuinely proud to serve.


In conclusion, one year on, it is abundantly clear that this document has been a resounding success. It has heightened awareness of how to support autistic individuals more effectively during stop and search encounters. It has helped foster a culture of empathy and understanding within the police service, which is essential for building trust with all members of the community. This document is not merely a guideline; it is a beacon of hope and progress towards a more inclusive and compassionate society, where the rights and dignity of all individuals, including those with autism, are respected and upheld.

Autism Alliance supports Anna Kennedy OBE’s petition

Autism Alliance supports Anna Kennedy OBE’s petition

Autism Alliance supports Anna Kennedy OBE’s petition


Autism Alliance have signed my petition and I am supporting their campaign.

They are calling for real change for autistic people and their families.Please read their policy paper.

‘Over 75% of autistic adults reach crisis point because they cannot access specialist social care.’

‘Everything is a fight -it should not be a fight’

I have signed up as a supporter.



Anna Speaks with Detective Superintendent Dion Brown on Stop And Search Guidance

Anna Speaks with Detective Superintendent Dion Brown on Stop And Search Guidance

This week on ‘All Things Autism’, Anna spoke to Dion Brown and Sean Kennedy about a recent collaboration between the Metropolitan Police Service and AnnaKennedyOnline.


The fruitful collaboration between AnnaKennedyonline and the Metropolitan Police has resulted in the recent production of the highly valuable “Stop and Search – Guidance for Autistic People,” with substantial input from autistic individuals. This document serves three crucial purposes.


First and foremost, it offers profound insights into stop and search procedures, shedding light on why police services consider it an indispensable tool for crime detection and prevention. Emphasising the utmost importance of respect and adherence to the United Kingdom’s rigorous standards, the guidance advocates for responsible implementation.


Secondly, it strives to enhance police officers’ comprehension of autism, underlining the necessity for reasonable adjustments when engaging with autistic individuals. This heightened awareness fosters more considerate and effective interactions.


Thirdly, the guidance powerfully conveys the genuine value police services place on autistic individuals. It warmly encourages them to explore diverse job opportunities within the police service, provided they meet the required selection criteria.


The impact of this guidance has been positive. Notably, it has garnered widespread acclaim and sparked a ripple effect, inspiring other police services to initiate local initiatives inspired by its contents. Autistic individuals have responded with positive feedback, with some expressing a newfound eagerness to collaborate closely with their local police service – a truly commendable achievement. Such success reinforces the path towards greater understanding, inclusivity, and cooperation between the police and autistic community.


Overall, the guidance stands as a testament to the positive influence of collaboration. It serves as an indispensable resource, fostering a harmonious and supportive relationship between the police and autistic individuals nationwide.


Should anyone wish to download the guidance, it can be found here:



Anyone who wants to know more about the many career opportunities in the Metropolitan Police Service can find more information here:


More information on the Autism Alert Card and Passport mentioned by Dion can be found here:


Autism campaigner backs calls for significant improvement in diagnosis waiting times

Autism campaigner backs calls for significant improvement in diagnosis waiting times



Leading autism campaigner, Anna Kennedy OBE has backed calls for significant improvement in diagnosis waiting times.


Anna Kennedy OBE, founder of national autism charity Anna Kennedy Online, has spoken out after the National Autistic Society sent an open letter to Rishi Sunak highlighting the lengthy waiting times for an autism assessment.

Anna has campaigned for many years on autism diagnosis and the importance of early intervention.

She said: “Promises are made however, we see little very little action.

“I’m flooded with message across social media snd through the charity about wait times for an assessment for an autism diagnosis for their children.

“Parents are complaining of waiting between two and five years for a diagnosis for their child, and it is very much a postcode lottery.”

Recently Anna read an article that in central London families were waiting over a year for just for a referral diagnosis appointment, despite waiting time guidelines of three months.

Anna says the government has yet to complete previous promises by a host of Health secretaries to officially record the waiting time figures.

Anna says she was told that their were complex reasons for the delays, including increased demand for the assessment which had increased “significantly” in the last few years due to wider awareness about autism.

More families may believe their children are on the spectrum due to charities like AnnaKennedyonline forging ahead to raise awareness and acceptance.

Anna says the access to special needs services, which includes an educational psychologist’s report and a limited amount of free speech and language therapy on the NHS, appears to vary hugely depending on what part of the country the child lives in.

Not all local authorities, health or education services provided equally strong support according to the parents she spoke to.

Waiting a long time for a diagnosis means a window for early intervention could be missed.

She added: “It has an impact on the child, it has an impact on the school, which doesn’t know what they are dealing with. It has an impact on the siblings, and obviously the family.”

While some parents Anna has spoken to over the years campaigning did avoid seeking a “label”, others told Anna of being dismissed.

In its letter to Mr Sunak, the National Autistic Society reveals an estimated 88,000 children are waiting to be assessed for a diagnois.  It says: “You have the opportunity to end the autism diagnosis crisis in your Spring Statement, by allocating the urgent funding that the NHS in England needs to both increase the number of assessments carried out and tackle the backlog. No one should have to wait years for a life-changing autism diagnosis.”

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