A Moray amateur dramatics group for those who are on the autism spectrum has been hailed as “vitally important” for its users.
FAME (Friendly Autism Moray Experience) is a collaboration between Lossiemouth Entertainment Academy, Moray Autism Services and the Department of Work and Pensions.
It organises the Spectrum Theatre Company, which consists of six young people with autism, plus a few special guests from the Lossiemouth Entertainment Academy.
The group gives them a chance to socialise and learn skills that can then help them to find full-time employment or move on into further education.
The young people attend at the Entertainment Academy every Friday and are currently working on a show based around the novel Catch the Moon Mary, which is written by an author with a deep understanding of the autism spectrum.
Ellen Shaw, team leader at the theatre company, has noticed a huge change in the attitudes and abilities of the performers since the scheme started in May last year.
She said: “This project has been incredibly important so far. We’ve been working with the young people for over a year now and their confidence is through the roof.
“There are people in this group who told us when they first joined that they wouldn’t or couldn’t sing or dance but who are now doing all of that; singing solos, performing dance acts.”
The service does not receive any regular funding and organisers are hopeful they can reach out to funding streams and expand the scheme.
Jane Munro, DWP employer and partnership manager, is hopeful the group will be able to grow in the future.
She believes the success of the show will demonstrate why such a service is so sorely needed in Moray.
“I want to offer this to all my clients who are on the spectrum and have an interest in the arts,” she said.
“It helps to develop their capabilities and could eventually lead to employment.”
One of the young actors, Jack Williams, 22, is autistic and hailed the service as “vital.”
He said: “It’s so important to my life. This academy they have just taken me in and it has become like a second home and second family to me.
“I just feel so comfortable when I come here on Fridays, playing with these guys and doing this play as well as other things. It is astonishing.”