Photo of James McQuiggan

Pictured above: James McQuiggan

James McQuiggan joins the regional autism charity while it is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  

The origins of the charity started back in the early 1970s with families living in Essex and Norfolk independently realising that there was no specialist provision for their children who were on the Autism Spectrum.   

This lack of provision resulted in two entirely separate organisations being operated and managed up until 2008 when negotiations brought about the successful merger and the formation of Autism Anglia.     

Autism Anglia’s services across the region includes Residential & Supported Living services for autistic adults, Day Centres, Outreach, Doucecroft School, a Diagnostics Centre, Advocacy Service and Training.  

James is only the fifth Chief Executive in its history.  

Andy Beevers, Chairman at Autism Anglia said:

Each Chief Executive has bought their own unique experiences to lead the charity, and we (the trustees) have every confidence that James will strengthen the foundations of our charity. We are excited for his enthusiasm and vision to lead the charity towards its next 50 years.

James has a wealth of local knowledge and experience in the sector, joining Autism Anglia from his most recent position as Chief Executive of Mid and North East Essex Mind.  

James told us:

I’ve held positions supporting other organisations either as a non-executive director, trustee, and public elected governor for nine years with EPUT (NHS Trust).   In addition, I’ve also worked with Essex police as a board member for the diverse communities’ program which helps to promote inclusion in all aspects of their work.  

Those experiences have supported me in becoming a strong leader within the sector, having in-depth understanding of the challenges that are faced daily by those we are here to support, and the wider community.  

I have only been with Autism Anglia for two weeks and have already seen the passion and commitment across the charity in all areas of the work being delivered. There is a real sense of community within the organisation which is refreshing to see.

However, James told us that he was not naïve to the challenges ahead.  

James added:

The entire charity sector is also struggling due to the impact of Covid and the cost-of-living crisis. Interestingly, nearly half of the UK charities (46%), have said they are using reserves to cover shortfalls in income. In addition, inflation remains high and isn’t likely to reduce as it had been hoped by the end of this year, meaning 2024 will bring new challenges with it.   

But our focus must be on those that we work with, aiming to provide a high standard of care and education.

The charity is becoming increasingly reliant on support of donations and grants from the community to improve and enhance its services to meet the needs of the people it supports.  The team at Autism Anglia have been hosting several fundraising events and campaigns this year which includes the upcoming black-tie ball at Braxted Park in November.  

James said:

The charity has some wonderful support from kind donors in the community and I am hoping we can continue to grow this. 

Income generated through donations and fundraising helps the charity to improve the essential services provided to autistic people, to fill the gaps against the rising costs of bills and ensure that the charity continues to make positive changes for autistic people and their families in East Anglia.

Pictured above: James McQuiggan CEO joins Autism Anglia staff and volunteers at a recent volunteer DIY day at Doucecroft School