A MUCH-NEEDED Centre for Lifelong Learning for adults with autism has been officially opened at Dunsfold Park – at the start of World Autism Awareness Month.

The centre, opened by Milford actress Dame Penelope Keith on April 3, offers a comprehensive range of learning opportunities and practical work experience.

Parents and carers of adults with autism generally struggle to find such a diverse range of learning support. The support is typically provided one to one.

The centre has been made possible largely by generous funding and donations of equipment by a wide variety of organisations and individuals.

Kate Grant, parent-founder of Jigsaw School and chief executive officer of Jigsaw Trust, said: “This is a landmark day in Jigsaw’s continued development of services for people with autism.

“We started as a primary school with six children in 1999 and have grown to a school of 68 pupils aged four to 19 – and today we also support 37 adults through our new Centre for Lifelong Learning.

“Our ambition for the past 20 years has always been to provide lifelong services and opportunities for people with autism. There is no limit to what we could do here to help people live fuller lives.”

Dame Penelope Keith said: “This is a remarkable place and I have such admiration for the people who work here, and for those who have funded it and made it possible.”

The centre focuses on continued key skills learning, independent living and personal development, wellbeing, and vocational and employment skills.

Specialist facilities include two fully-equipped kitchens, a room equipped for learning office skills, a gym, a drama and music studio with a variety of instruments, two sensory rooms, a library, a wet room, teaching rooms, relaxation areas and a training room which doubles as a cinema.