Stoke man to spend week locked in empty shop to highlight the plight of autistic children

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Andy Bailey, a former radio presenter and wedding DJ, from Stoke-on-Trent, is about to spend a full week living alone in an empty shop in the middle of the city centre, to raise awareness of Autism and the support offered to those with the condition by Caudwell Children.

The project, ‘Locked In For Autism’, will see the 39 year old eating, sleeping, working and playing in the large shop window of the former Santander Bank, in Tontine Square, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, from Friday 23rd – Friday 30th May 2014.

Andy recently started working for Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, and was immediately impressed by the level of support that the charity gives to those with Autism.

Having no previous understanding of the condition, and wanted to find out more, he spoke to children and their families who live with Autism on a daily basis.

The constant message coming back was that Autism was like ‘feeling trapped’. Many of those questioned said that it was similar to living your life in the public domain but with limitations.

So in an attempt to understand what this might be like, Andy has decided to live a week of his life ‘trapped’ inside a shop in Stoke-on-Trent City Centre.

Andy said:

“I’ve managed to find an empty property in the heart of the busy shopping district where it’s all pedestrianised with easy access. I’ll be staying during school half-term, so I’m hoping lots of families will come down and help me through the 168 hours! I’ve already had plenty of offers from local singers and musicians, willing to come down and perform in front of the shop, so at least I won’t get bored!”

It is hoped the week-long project will raise £10,000 to support the Caudwell Children ‘Autistic Children’s Therapies’ (ACT) Programme, a series of therapies, education, dietary and nutritional intervention.

The ACT programme unlocks the lives of children with Autism and helps them reach their full potential. Since 2005 Caudwell Children have provided over £7.8 million of support to over 4,600 children with Autism, making them one of the UK’s fastest growing charities.

Andy explained that the impetuous for the challenge came from National Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd:

“It barely got a mention in the media. Considering Autism is the most prevalent disability in the UK, this was incredibly disappointing, so I’m literally hoping to put Autism in the shop window and raise some money for Caudwell Children at the same time”.

The Stoke City supporter says the one thing he’ll miss most is his 3 young children, his weekly game of 5-a-side football and proper food.

Caudwell Children have been supported in this venture by Stoke-on-Trent city centre management who recognise the value in breathing new life in to empty shops, and Daniel & Hulme Agency, the commercial letting agency for the property.

 You can follow the progress of the project and sponsor Andy at www.lockedinforautism.com and see more about the charity at www.caudwellchildren.com