One man's mission for autism

Active for AutismUK Charity Award winner, Pride of Britain finalist, and devoted dad Tom Nasmyth-Shaw first began fundraising for children with autism back in 2013.

That was a life-changing year for Tom and his wife Kelly, as their then five-year-old son Jack was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

The couple soon realised that funding and support available from the National Health Service (NHS) for essential early intervention therapies was limited. And that’s when they decided to help other families by raising funds and awareness.

Tom, a Burry Port south Wales local, was keen to do something that would get people talking. He began thinking more and more about creating an extreme, ‘out there’ project - and so ‘Week on the Street’ was born.

Cold, hungry and alone in London

Twitter pageIn December 2013, armed with just warm clothing, a sleeping bag and his phone, Tom took to the streets of London to sleep rough for a week.

“It was tough leaving the family behind, but I wanted to do the things other people wouldn’t want to,” says Tom of his experience.

“And it wasn’t easy. I was attacked and though I can handle myself, it rattled me for the rest of the week.”

Tom’s supporters rallied through social media, and his blog, and soon the word spread.

Not only did people bring food, but the money started to pour in. 

Destitute in New York

Tom’s success, which included being named a finalist in the 2014 ITV Regional Pride of Britain awards, spurred him on to his next adventure.

In October of 2014, Tom set off to spend a week sleeping under the stars in New York. But this time he wore a stab vest.

Again it was a difficult week, but it wasn’t long before people from all over the world began striking up conversations about Tom’s efforts on social media. Soon, Tom was welcoming visitors bringing him food and drink.

Active for Autism

In 2015 Tom founded the UK charity Active for Autism, which has now raised more than £100,000.

Says Tom: “My aim is to raise as much awareness as possible so that the government does more to help parents and children with autism. And so I don’t have to sleep on the streets any more!”

What’s next?

Tom started looking into Russia as a potential destination for his next outdoor sleep out. However, Tom was advised against it by the country’s presidential office. They told him the cold is so extreme he probably wouldn’t survive. Tom was also warned that there was a good chance he’d be arrested.

As a result, Tom has now set his sights on visiting Nepal for his next challenge later this year.

Though very much in the planning stages, the hardy fundraiser wants to spend his days volunteering at orphanages.

You can follow Tom’s progress and support ‘Week on the Street’ and Active for Autism on Twitter and Facebook.

For more, contact Tom at Tom@ActiveforAutism.org

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