Autistic youngsters turn Advent on its head to help the hungry

Pupils from Orbis Education and Care.


Young people living with autism are doing their part to combat hunger in Wales this Christmas as part of a ‘reverse’ advent calendar project being run by a leading provider of care for young people living with autism.


Pupils from Orbis Education and Care aged from eight to 19 years of age are collecting items urgently required by food banks, such as tinned vegetables, fruit juice, and UHT milk. Each day in December, instead of opening the window on an advent calendar of their own, the youngsters visit a local supermarket and buy one item to put towards the reverse advent calendar.


Orbis is an award-winning provider of specialist services for children and young people with complex needs associated with autism. The organisation runs numerous sites across Wales in locations including Cardiff, Brecon, Newport, Port Talbot and Presteigne with each site providing a high level of support for people affected by autism.


The reverse advent calendar project is taking place at Orbis’ Tŷ Corŷton site in Cardiff. Once the calendar reaches 25 items it will be donated to anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust, which collects items to distribute in food banks across the UK.


Orbis Chief Executive, Mike Currier said: “Autism is a highly complex condition that affects each individual differently, so our incredible staff teams are constantly coming up with creative ways to teach our users important lessons and life skills.


“The reverse advent calendar project is a fantastic way to communicate an important lesson in generosity to our young people, while allowing them the opportunity to find out more about causes that are important to the local community – and see that they have the power to make a real positive difference.”


Jacquinn Vaughan one of the pupils collecting for a reverse advent calendar


The festive period is notoriously busy for food banks, with recent figures from the Trussell Trust showing a 45% increase in the number of three day emergency food supplies provided by Trussell Trust foodbanks last December.


Bethan Ridsdale, a teacher at Tŷ Corŷton added: “We wanted to teach the young people about the importance of selfless giving and the reverse advent calendar is a perfect way to encourage our pupils to get excited about doing something good for the local community.”


“The Trussell Trust can be found at local supermarkets which means that we can organise for some of the students to take the box to them before the school holidays, so that they see the project right through to the end.”


The Trussell Trust has a network of more than 400 foodbanks across the UK, working to tackle food poverty and hunger in local communities. The donation from Orbis will go to Cardiff Food Bank, which provides emergency food to individuals and families in crisis.


Helen Bull, partnership and fundraising manager at Cardiff Food Bank said: ‘We are so grateful to all the youngsters taking part in the reverse advent calendar from Orbis Education and Care. They have selflessly donated food to Cardiff Foodbank instead of keeping it for themselves.


“This is incredibly generous and thoughtful, especially around Christmas, and will help those who simply don’t have enough food to feed their families. Thanks so much to everyone involved it makes such a difference.’


To find out more about Orbis Education and Care, visit:


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