About HOPE

HOPE for Autism was established by a group of mothers who were unable to access the help they needed for their children in North Lanarkshire. In 2002 HOPE became a registered charity and established a support group for parents and carers. In June 2006 HOPE moved to the HOPE Centre in Chapel Street, Airdrie. HOPE is the most experienced third sector autism specific service offered in North Lanarkshire. We provide activity groups for young people and run a range of successful, fun and educational based activities for children and young people aged 2 – 25 years of age over 7 days a week. Our services also offer support to local families and carers affected by ASD. Download our information leaflet here

The board of trustees comprises parents and professionals who are responsible for the governance and strategic overview of the charity. The board is recruited through advertising and direct contact, all recruitment is based on having a board that has a range of expertise that benefits the organisation. The trustees meet ten times a year. There are sub-committees which meet as required and report back to the board.

  • Carol Russell – Chair of the Board of Trustees

Carol was Vice Chair of HOPE when it became a charity in 2002 and has been involved in supporting parents for the last 20 years.  After a spell of studying, she took up the position of Chair in Oct 2010. Her daughter has Severe Autism and is now a young adult. Carol works as a Speech and Language Assistant Practitioner with children who are on the Autistic Spectrum; within nursery, primary and high school settings in North Lanarkshire. Over the years she has been involved in various multi-disciplinary Autism groups, to help improve the services of Autism in Lanarkshire.

  • Michelle Cassells – Vice-Chair 

Michelle initially started working with HOPE as a volunteer in February 2012 and took up the role on the Board of Directors in November 2013.  She is an accountant with over 15 years financial experience with a local firm, who also supports HOPE through fundraising.

  • Karen Spiers – Chair of Fundraising Committee 

Karen’s background is in banking. She has held many positions from Treasurer, Secretary and Chair of various committees over a number of years. Karen was heavily involved in the local Girl Guiding movement for over 25 years, leading all age units from Rainbows, Brownies through to Guides.

  • Paul Harris – Treasurer

Paul is a Qualified Accountant and a Fellow of the Association Chartered Certified Accountants.  He has 18 Years post-qualifying experience working in commercial finance functions within sectors including Retail, Telecommunications, Leisure and Financial Services, and fulfilling a variety of roles from Trainee Accountant to Finance Director.  His current role is with Tesco Bank, where he has been for the past six years and holds the position of Head of Operational Financial Control.

  • Andrew Lindsay – Trustee

Andrew joined HOPE as a trustee in 2014. He has been a member of HOPE for a few years as his son who has ASD attends HOPE. He has a BA and LLB in law and also a Diploma in Legal Practice. He has been working as a Paralegal for 12 years and is hoping that his legal experience can help HOPE.

  • Alison Warnock  – Trustee

Alison has worked as a lecturer at a further education college since the year 2000. Her subject specialism is ICT. When she first started teaching she taught a lot in outreach community hubs where she spent time teaching learners of all ages and from various different backgrounds and cultures. Alison has spent most of her career supporting various vulnerable groups of students.

  • Joanne Campbell – Trustee

Joanne has been teaching since2006 supporting pupils with ASD. She became a Depute Headteacher in 2012, managing a provision for pupils with Language and Communication Difficulties. She has a Bsc (Hons) Psychology, post grad degree in Teaching, as well as a post grad degree in Educational Support.

  • Evelyn Magilton – Trustee

Evelyn is a Health Visitor Team Leader working in North Lanarkshire. She has worked with numerous families over the years that have children/young people with ASD.  A close relative of Evelyn has a daughter with Autism and she has in-depth knowledge of how it can affect a family.

  • Eileen Waugh – Chief Executive Officer


Eileen graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MSc in Social Science in 2015 and gained a BA in Tertiary Education with a Teaching Qualification in Further Education from Stirling University in 2010. Eileen also has a qualification in Leadership and Management and is a qualified External Verifier.


Eileen joined HOPE as CEO early in 2015 following a 20 year career in adult education and curriculum management, Eileen had gained experience in operational and strategic management, budget planning and control, and leadership. Through a strong commitment to lifelong learning, Eileen has also worked with The Scottish Qualifications Authority since 2002 to develop qualifications and assessment materials. Eileen is currently employed by SQA as a Qualifications Verifier to externally verify standards and approve assessment delivery within further education for Scotland’s colleges.


Eileen is trained in Equality and Diversity, Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, Guidance and Support Counselling, Health and Safety and other legislative requirements. Due to her background in education, Eileen has also been trained in how to support others with various physical and mental disability issues. With Leadership and Management training, Eileen has covered training that encompassed line management and development of others. Eileen is trained as a Confident Practitioner in relation to Curriculum for Excellence and has took part in various training events associated with Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)

Eileen is trained in Word and Excel.

“Although my background lies in adult education, I have been able to use my personal and professional skills to support the further development of HOPE within the North Lanarkshire area. With a Grandson with an ASC diagnosis, I have a good understanding of the difficulties faced by families and individuals who need to learn to cope with an Autism condition. I endeavour to use my personal experience of ASC to ensure that the plans for HOPE’s future fully encompass the needs and desires of the families we support


  • Janice Mckay – Project Manager


Janice has a SEN qualification in General Nursing, HNC in Education and Childcare, BA in Early Childhood Studies, and a diploma from the Institute of Leadership and Management.


After leaving nursing, Janice moved to education and worked in a primary school and nursery class for 9 years before managing a college nursery for 13 years. For 2 years during this period, Janice was an evening college lecturer in the Childcare department, and immediately prior to starting with HOPE, was employed as a college day time lecturer in the department of Childhood Practice.

Janice has over 30 years experience as a volunteer with a variety of charities and youth organisations.


Janice has always taken advantage of any professional development opportunities that came her way and has enjoyed a wealth of training in leadership and management, health and safety, child protection, project planning, counselling, equality and diversity, and countless courses in relation to early years.

Every day is a school day for me, and I anticipate lots of new learning during my time at HOPE.”


  • Leanne McNeill – Autism Lead 


Leanne graduated with a Masters’ degree in Psychological Studies from the University of Glasgow in 2006.  She completed  the ‘Understanding the autism spectrum’ course to further her knowledge and understanding of autism through the Open University in 2013.


Leanne first started working with children with Autism in 2006, and has various experience supporting people with learning disabilities, acquired brain injuries and mental health problems in Scotland and Australia. Leanne worked as a Lead Applied Behaviour Analysis tutor for several years under the guidance of a Behaviour Consultant, before moving on to the National Autistic Society where she worked within the Psychology Service, Support for Learning Team. She has experience working within the additional support need’s base of a mainstream school; where she led one-to-one and group play sessions with children with autism and children with socio/emotional and behavioural problems. A key part of this role was to share good autism practice amongst staff.   

Leanne has also worked as a Research Assistant for the Mental Health Foundation and Positive Mental Attitudes, NHS GGC. She developed an evaluation of the impact of storytelling as a method for reducing the stigma associated with mental health problems among minority ethnic communities. She also designed and carried out research on the use of film to communicate positive mental health messages to young people who may be feeling suicidal in North East Glasgow. 

Leanne has other experience working as a Support Worker for Quarriers and as a child care worker within nurseries in Melbourne, Australia.


Leanne is fully committed to continuing professional development and is trained using Applied Behaviour Analysis and Verbal Behaviour as an approach for promoting positive behaviour change. She is also trained using Crisis & Aggression Limitation & Management (CALM),  Picture Exchange Communication (PEC), Talking Mats (Gold Level), Intensive Interaction, Relationship Development Intervention, SPELL ecological approach, Child Protection, First Aid at Work and Pathological Demand Avoidance.


  • Kathleen Williamson – Project Administrator

Kath joined HOPE in May 2006 as a Project Assistant for (17hrs), she was then recruited to Project Administrator (30hrs) in 2009. Kath has a background in Secretarial/PA to Directors of large organisations.

During her time at HOPE she has attended various trainings such as PDA Awareness, Basic counselling, CALMS (Theory), Aspergers awareness by Tony Attwood, Time management, Fire Training, First Aid & Emergency First Aid, Project Management, Introduction to Autism, Understanding Challenging Behaviour, Child Protection, Mental Health – Healthy living, Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, PVG Training, Microsoft Publisher

“In my 10 years at HOPE, I have seen many changes to the organisation (structural and organisational). I am very passionate about HOPE and it goes without saying that I have HOPE’s interests at heart”.


  • Callum Creaney – Volunteer Development Officer

Callum is currently studying English BA (Hons) [2013 – 2017] at The University of Strathclyde.

Callum began working at HOPE in 2012 as a volunteer, then spent a year working as a session worker before working as a Senior Group Worker for two years. As HOPE’s Volunteer Development Officer, he applies his organisational experience from working as a Parliamentary Researcher for a Central Scotland MSP . Callum has also worked part time for Ringwood Publishing, and has various journalistic experiences with The Strathclyde Telegraph and The University Paper: Glasgow.

Callum is trained in Reactive Approaches to Challenging Behavious, Crisis & Aggression Limitation & Management (CALM), Talking Mats, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and Emergency First Aid at work

Callum helps to produce the HOPE’s newsletter and is also currently doing some work to improve our Website.


  • Anna Reid – Senior Group Worker

Anna graduated in 2014 from The University of Stirling with a 2:1 BA Honours Degree in Psychology.

During her studies Anna worked part time in out of school care provision and provided 1:1 support for children with additional support needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Global Development Disorder, Attachment Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Anna is trained in Moving & Handling in Special Needs children, Gastrostomy Disorders in Children, Child Protection, Pathways to Play Work, Food Hygiene and Inhaler Management and Epi-Pen administration.
Anna has a background in sports and is trained as a Gym Instructor at Level 2, fully qualified Lifeguard, and Advanced Exercise Prescription. After qualifying in Psychology, Anna was employed by Alzheimer’s Scotland where she supported people affected by Alzheimer’s both at home, and in a community setting.

Anna has undergone training in Multi-Agency Adult Protection and SafeTalk Suicide Alertness training. In addition to this, Anna has completed Alzheimer’s Promoting Excellence Framework completing 9 different modules including areas such as personal care, palliative and end of life care, personalisation and manual handling.

She commenced her employment with HOPE for Autism in October 2014 and since, has completed extensive training around Autism and how to work towards the best outcomes for our children and young people. She has completed Talking Mats Silver Level qualification, First Aid at Work, CALM Physical Intervention training, Hanen – Spark Communication, PECS training, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), and Solihull training.

“I continue to develop my knowledge and skills in this area both through research and continued learning in my role as Senior Group Worker for pre 5’s. I currently support 24 Pre-school children on the Autistic Spectrum in weekly groups where I have the opportunity to gain hands on experience with the children. A large part of this role is also supporting and providing information for families and carers of those affected by ASD. I attend and contribute to multi-agency meetings; I provide supporting letters and also provide advice and feedback for other organisations involved with the children”
“My current role is rewarding and extremely enjoyable, and I always strive to develop my learning and provide the best support to the children that attend HOPE for Autism”


  • Derek Russell – Senior Group Worker


Derek achieved an Higher in Human Communication Studies (HNC equivalent) in Speech and Language Pathology at Strathclyde University in 2010. 


Derek began working at HOPE in 2006, starting out as a volunteer and then becoming a session worker.  He works in many of HOPE’s groups, including the siblings group where he is now the current Senior Group Worker for the Over 10s.  As his sibling has Autism, Derek has always been very passionate in working to help the children/young adults with Autism, their siblings and their families who attend HOPE. 

Derek has previously worked for Quarriers in 2014, where he gained experience working with a variety of clients with many different additional support needs, such as brain injury and learning difficulties.  He also currently works as a Personal Assistant to a young adult with Aspergers, where he helps him gain independent life skills.  Derek also continues to volunteer at HOPE whenever he can, whether it be in HOPE’s youth groups, being part of the fundraising team, or being the resident DJ. He has always been very passionate to see the children and young adults succeed in HOPE. 


During his time at HOPE, Derek has been trained in using Crisis and Aggressive Limitation and Management (CALM), PECS, Talking Mats, First Aid, Introduction to Autism, Child Protection, Responding to Sensory Challenges in Autism, 2 day course in Sensory Awareness, 2 day course in First Steps to Youth Work, 1 day Coaching Young People, UKCC Level 1 Trampoline Coach through British Gymnastics, Visual Aid/Goal Setting Training, A Guide to Mentoring Sports Coaches, Autism Behaviour Training.   He has also been trained during his time at Quarriers in Epilepsy, Safer Handling, Food Safety, Administering Medication, Equality and Diversity and Positive Approaches to Behaviour. 

“I am extremely passionate about HOPE and do my upmost to help everyone associated with HOPE to the best of my ability.  Most of the kids consider me the ‘Joker of the pack’ as I love to teach them humour and not to take life so serious.  I probably have more fun in HOPE than our kids/young adults do.”



  • Karen Cassidy – Family & Young Adult Support Worker

Karen joined HOPE as a volunteer in April 2006. In August 2010 she took on the role of Group Coordinator which involved overseeing all groups and line managing staff. From April 2013, Karen is now  our Family and Young Adult Support Worker and continues to oversee groups as well as supporting young people and their families through the transition process and running our Support Group Meetings. Karen also has a son a who was diagnosed with Autism in 2011.


  • Majella Kerr – Senior Group Worker (Sports)

Majella has a HND in Sports Coaching with Development. She is qualified to run various sessions including canoeing, archery, kayaking and cycling.

She has worked with children and young people for 10 years in a variety of settings, starting as a volunteer then leader within Girl guiding UK and various sports clubs and activities throughout her studies. She started working as an Outdoor Instructor, prior to HOPE, running personal and social development courses for children and young adults.

During her time at HOPE she has attended various training such as First Aid, CALM Theory & Practical, Autism Awareness, Child Protection, Solihull, Talking Mats, Various Sports Coach UK courses, John Muir Award, Play on Pedals and recently gained a UKCC Level One Teaching Aquatics.

“I joined the team at HOPE during September 2014 as Senior Group Worker for Sports. My role involves planning, delivering, promoting and evaluating our current sessions supported by a great team of staff and volunteers as well as creating new opportunities through partnership working”.


  • Matthew Gallagher – Senior Group Worker 


Matthew is currently studying a BEd (Hons) Physical Educations at The University of Edinburgh and is in his fourth year.


Matthew joined HOPE as a volunteer over two years ago, working in various groups before becoming a Session Worker a year ago. He has since become a Senior Group Worker for the Busy Bees Red and Whizz Kidz Red. Matthew’s experiences also extend to his studies of becoming a teacher. This has included multiple placements in both Primary and Secondary schools.


Matthew has participated in training such as Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC), Introduction To Autism, Better Movers Better Thinkers (BMBT), SFA coaching and Disability in PE.

“With working at HOPE and also through Teaching, my beliefs have always been about inclusion and building towards the young people becoming well rounded individuals, who are set up for later life. I have continuously worked to make the groups a safe and positive environment, in which the young people feel safe and can flourish. I am surrounded and supported by wonderful staff and volunteers who share my views and help offer opportunities for the young people. I find this role very rewarding and believe HOPE is a wonderful place in which the Young People interests are always put first and I will always support this”



  • Sarah Parker – Senior Group Worker 


Sarah is currently in third year studying at the University of Stirling towards her BA Hons Degree in Psychology.


Before joining HOPE in 2013 Sarah volunteered for a local summer play scheme. In addition to volunteering at HOPE Sarah spent two weeks in Malawi in October 2013. She travelled to Malawi to help set up the Disabled Children’s Project which aimed to register all children and young people in the area with disabilities and get them the required help. As a result of this project there are young people who now have the prosthetics they so desperately need. Sarah has thoroughly enjoyed her time at HOPE over the last 3 years and has recently been appointed Senior Group Worker.


During her time at HOPE Sarah has attended various trainings such as Child Protection, Talking Matts, Crisis and Aggression Limitation Management (CALM), First Aid Training, Solihull Approach Training, Scottish Autism’s approved Introduction to Autism training as well as Play on Pedals training and Positive Coaching Scotland training. More recently, Sarah has attended GIRFEC (Getting It Right for Every Child) and hopes to implement all the things she has learned into her work within the groups.

“I have recently been appointment as Senior Group Worker at HOPE and I am looking forward to continuing to develop my skills and knowledge in this field whilst working to provide support for the young people and families who access HOPE’s services.”

The Mission Statement was revisited during the first quarter of 2016 and the new mission statement has been agreed and our underlying guiding values and principles articulated.

‘Hope for Autism will seek to empower families and the community to embrace Autism’

We achieve this by: Helping the families Offering support, training and interventions Providing information and promoting awareness and understanding of ASD Encouraging service users to maximise their potential

Our organisational values impact everything we do, every day, for every person who is in contact with HOPE for Autism. They help improve the way that we work by making us more responsive, effective and efficient.

  • A person-centred approach – to offer support to children, young people living with autism
  • Promoting positive and inclusive lifestyles – enabling people living with autism to make a positive contribution to their local community
  • Continuous quality improvement
  • Commitment to stakeholder involvement
  • Openness and accountability as an organisation

Strategic Themes

  • Quality
  • Extension of services
  • Financial sustainability
  • Monitoring and evaluation


Objectives for 2016-17

  • Quality
    1. Develop and Support Staff, Workers and Volunteers
    2. Develop and Support the Organisational Structure
    3. Raise Awareness of HOPE and Autism
  • Extension of services
    1. Develop HOPE Satellite Services
    2. Develop Day Time Services at the HOPE Centre
    3. Develop Services for Young People
  • Financial sustainability
    1. Work to Ensure Core Funding is Covered
    2. Work with Local Authority and Health to Receive Ongoing Funding
    3. Apply for Grant Funding for any Shortfall and New Developments/Projects
    4. Develop and support Fundraising
  • Monitoring and evaluation
    1. Implement Mechanisms to Involve Children, Young People, Parents and Carers
    2. Implement an Ongoing Robust Evaluation Process
    3. Improve Data Collection
    4. Consider Introducing Performance Indicators