A new group has been set up for people in the borough with autism.
Ben Quigley has started the Wigan Spectrum Community for people aged between 18 and 25 who have autism and can struggle with anxiety in social situations.
It all started when Ben, 20, was looking for a group to attend during Autism Awareness Month last year but could only find places in Leigh.
He said: “I don’t drive so I would have struggled to get to Leigh. I can’t use public transport because I get anxious so I would have had to cycle and that would have taken about an hour and a half.
“I would have been exhausted by the time I got there and wouldn’t have enjoyed the group.
“I even got in touch with the groups to see if they knew of any in Wigan but there weren’t any. So I started looking for somewhere I could hold a group and when The Venue opened next door to the Youth Zone they have agreed to host events.”
The first Hang-out is being held at The Venue on April 25 at 6.30pm and will be held every week afterwards.
Ben said: “The group is just a safe place where people can come alone and not be judged.
“Someone said to me the other day that it was somewhere people could go and feel normal for a few hours which was great because that’s what I wanted it to feel like.”
The first meeting will be basic but Ben will look into arranging members’ requests if they had ideas for future meetings such as karaoke.
Ben, who studies at Wigan and Leigh College, has also introduced a buddy system for people who might want to attend with a friendly face.
“I have asked that the buddy’s be aged between 17 and 26 so they fit into the same age group but if a member needs to bring someone older or a parent because of a medical or serious social reason, they can message me and i will arrange for that,” he said.
“Everyone at The Venue, including the staff, for the meetings will also be on the spectrum. I was diagnosed when I was 11.
“It can be for people with autism who are young adults to meet up with other people their age. I do go to the Youth Zone but I mostly talk to the staff because the children tend to be younger.”
The awareness month runs throughout April and aims to help people understand what it is like to be autistic, meanwhile the BBC series The A Word, about a young boy who is diagnosed with the condition, has also been praised for its portrayal.
To find out more, visit the Wigan Spectrum Community facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.