A team from NIHR CLAHRC West joined colleagues from the University of Bristol, Autism Independence (AI) and ACTA Community Theatre to give a presentation to MPs on Wednesday 2 November.
The presentation, ‘“Yusef can’t talk” and other stories about autism in the Somali population of Bristol’, was led by Nura Aabe, founder of AI. Nura told her personal story about the difficulties that she faced as a Somali mother when her son, Zak was diagnosed with autism.
The presentation was a combination of recent research exploring autism in the Bristol Somali community and clips of the play, ‘Yusef can’t talk’, that was developed and performed by Somali mothers and ACTA, to raise awareness about autism. The research was introduced by the University of Bristol’s Dr Dheeraj Rai, and the findings were presented by CLAHRC West’s Dr Fiona Fox.
The presentation took place in the McMillan conference room in Portcullis House and was filmed by BBC Points West. Attendees included several MPs, a Member of the House of Lords and a representative from the National Autistic Society.
After the 30-minute presentation, the audience asked questions and were very positive about the work. Cheryl Gillan MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism (APPGA) and Charlotte Leslie MP, Vice Chair of APPGA, were keen to share this work with other MPs. They also wanted to attend a performance of the play and to learn about future research.
The event was an excellent opportunity to share key research findings that were co-produced through collaborative work between NIHR CLAHRC West, the local Somali community and the University of Bristol.
The team included:
Nura Aabe, Autism Independence
Dheeraj Rai, University of Bristol
Sabi Redwood and Fiona Fox, NIHR CLAHRC West
Ingrid Jones and Rosalie Pordes, ACTA Community Theatre