Minutes of January 2016 meeting

Minutes of meeting of the Board of directors of The Autscape Organisation

Meeting date: Saturday 23rd January 2016

Meeting time: 15:00 GMT

Meeting Chair: Kalen

Present: Debbie, Elaine, Jeremy, Joseph, Kalen and Trish

Absent: Liz

Apologies: None

Observers: None

Meeting opened: 3:08 pm

1. Approvals

1.1. Approval of the minutes of the board meeting held on 28th Nov 2015 and
    posted to the list on 21st Jan 2016.
1.2. Approval of the draft letter regarding chat list moderators as posted
    to the board on 21st Jan 2016.

1.1 and 1.2 approved together. 6 for

2. Ratifications

2.1 To ratify the decision that Jeremy becomes a signatory to the cheque
    book as well as receiving access to the bank account, Autscape finance
    system, and PayPal.( taken on list on 5th Dec 2015)
    2.1 Ratified. 6 for. 

3. Proposals

3.1 Theme

    There was a long discussion of the shortlisted topics (connections,
    neurodiversity and identity) and other options ('neurodiverse
    identities' and 'neurodiverse connections'), and whether to choose for
    both 2016 and 2017. There was concern over the suitablilty of deciding
    for 2017 now and whether it was preferable to decide later. It was
    suggested there could be a discussion group at Autscape about the
    following year's theme.

    Votes were taken for 2016 on each of the main suggestions individually.

    The Programme coordinator proposed that the theme for Autscape 2016
    centre on the theme of :

    Identity (exact wording to be specified). (5 for, 1 against)
    Neurodiversity (2 for, 4 against)
    Connections (4 for, 1 against)

    The theme for next Autscape is Identity.

    Action 3.1: Kalen to pass back to SC for description

3.2 Bank signatories

    The Company Treasurer proposed that we add Trish as a signatory to the
    bank account and that we remove Stephen and Yo.

    The Company Treasurer informed the Board that Peter and Kalen would
    remain as signatories and Stephen and Yo would be replaced with Trish
    and Jeremy (the decision to add Jeremy was taken onlist on 5th December
    2015 and ratified at item 2.1 of this meeting).

    It had been decided to make all alterations at the same time as bank
    requirements are complicated by the fact that the Board do not live
    close together. There was a discussion clarifying the exact situation
    and who would be taking on or leaving each role.

    3.2 approved. 6 for

4. Role Reports

4.1 Chair
    The Chair had nothing to report.

4.2 Company Treasurer
    The Company Treasurer reported on:
    a) Cheque form: This was filled out by Peter as signatory one and posted
       last weekend but has not yet been received by Jeremy. From Jeremy it
       will go to Trish then Kalen (signing two areas) and then back to
    b) Bank signatures: This is on hold as Peter has to contact the bank and
       find a solution to Jeremy not having a home phone number to put in
       the compulsory field on the form.
    c) Access to Autscape finance system for Jeremy: now completed.
    d) Paypal: will be addressed later when other things are completed.
    e) Progress towards 25K. There is a difficulty here as to start on the
       new database package before the computer system has been updated
       would require rewriting the package twice. This is made worse by the
       Board having instructed Peter to use a different database from that
       which he would prefer. This could cause problems with our commitment
       to going over the 25K limit. It is necessary that we remove the
       instruction that was given. The change of database is because our
       existing one will no longer be free.
    Action 4.2: Elaine to follow up on removing the instruction.

4.3 Company Secretary/Honorary Secretary
    The Company Secretary reported that she had been writing a proposal
    around Tech which will follow soon. She has also completed the reserves
    policy, nearly finished the annual return and is doing a lot of other
    stuff around chat list policy, all of which will be sent out soon.

4.4 Web Systems
    Elaine reported that web systems is currently without a chair. The role
    along with a technical policy and outstanding issues eg. Domain purchase
    and font license tracking page are currently under review.
    Action 4.4: Deferred to list re above (Elaine)

4.5 Programme coordinator report from 2015
    See Appendix A.

4.6 Programme co-ordinator
    The Programme Coordinator reported that the theme had been decided and
    will now go to the sub-committee for writing up into the call for
    proposals. However, the CfP should not really go out until the venue is

4.7 Venue Co-ordinator
    The Venue Co-ordinator reported she has been trying to get hold of the
    contract. As this was sorted in February last year she hopes it will be
    done soon.

4.8 Venue Co-ordinator report 2015
    See Appendix B.

4.9 Venue search 2017
    Joseph reported that the only new information that has not been posted
    on the list is from Shrewsbury. They cannot guarantee exclusive use of
    the dining hall and all the ensuites are on 1st and 2nd floors. We can
    however have exclusive access to 3 or 4 residential buildings of the 13
    they have.
    There was a short discussion regarding suitability and whether a visit
    would be advisable. Several people are able to visit this location at no
    Deferred for discussion, on or off list
    Action 4.9: Initiate discussion on venues (Joseph)

4.10 Merchandise report 2015
    See Appendix C.

5. Sub-committee reports

5.1 Fundraising
    No report from Liz due to absence and Jeremy reported no further
    progress from the discussion at the last board meeting where he had
    offered to assist.

5.2 Publications (David)
    No report received. David needs informing that we need to prepare the
    advert for AU.
    Kalen mentioned that she has an editable copy of the advert used last
    year and will pass that on to David. The AU deadline is 17 Feb.
    Action 5.2: Kalen to contact David re advert and deadline

6. Any other business

6.1 Stephen
    Elaine expressed a wish to thank Stephen for all his hard work in the
    long time he has been on the Board as he resigned for personal reasons
    in December.

Meeting closed 5:08pm


3.1: Kalen to pass back to SC for description

4.3: Elaine to follow up on removing the instruction.

4.4: Web systems deferred to list re above (Elaine)

4.9: Initiate discussion on venues (Joseph)

5.2: Kalen to contact David re advert and deadline

Appendix A - Programme Co-ordinator report (Giggleswick 2015)

This year we had a very intense programme with 12 main programme events and
lots of leisure and other activities happening. In future it may be better
to go back to one main presentation per session, but with alternative
activities and concurrent discussions.

Organisation was significantly hampered by inaccurate maps, inaccurate
information from the venue about equipment and insufficient familiarity with
the venue to really nail things down beforehand. This would be improved if
we were to use the same venue again. There are always changes and
adjustments, and this may be better communicated electronically so not
everyone would have to go into the information centre for up to date

Technical set up was tricky due to the venue not having a laptop to use with
the projector. In retrospect it may have been better to just relocate one of
their desktops to that room for the duration. Autscape may also want to
consider purchasing a basic laptop, clicker for advancing slides, and
printer. Of course storage and transport would continue to be an issue as
with other equipment.

We need a programme coordinator who is available throughout the programme
day without any other responsibilities or priorities.

One presentation and one discussion went poorly, but all else went well
enough, some of it very well. The poorly received presentation was by a
non-autistic person, but so was one of the better ones. Presenters need to
be reminded of Autscape’s rules regarding freedom of movement. The
presenters' guidance should spell this out during the proposal stage.

Two proposals were missed because they were submitted in non-standard ways.
The proposal submission form should be the only way proposals are accepted
and should be changed to be more flexible about length, style, and whether a
follow-up discussion is wanted. It should also ask for consent to record and
distribute, and whether it would be suitable for children to attend with
their carers.

Although this year's venue has many drawbacks, it has the advantage of
having a large number of rooms within a compact area. A second accessible
large meeting space would help.

Organisation of home groups took a vastly disproportionate amount of time
and energy. Registration for them was also hampered by cancelled trains. It
would be helpful to have participants indicate whether they are interested
in joining a home group during booking, at least to get a count for how many
groups may be needed. They can then be assigned to groups when booking

Topic tables were successful, although they probably should be rotated on a
daily basis or only used for the first meal or two. No feedback was received
about interest groups.

The disco was successful. Many people enjoyed it and no complaints were
received. It would be good to have the disco end a bit earlier to give more
time for disco-free socialising afterwards.

The the method of raising a hand to spread silence through a crowd caught on
very well.

Appendix B - Venue co-ordinators report (Giggleswick 2015)

Venue report  - Giggleswick School

When we booked this venue we were lead to believe we could have any boarding
house but for the dates we had to choose from the only boarding house with
ground floor bedrooms was occupied. We also knew that it was fairly spread
out and on a hill. As a result it didn't make this a fully accessible venue
but they did allow those with mobility problems special parking spaces and
the ability to drive to the dining hall from the main area.

We also had a summer school to contend with but the venue made arrangements
for them to keep out of our way as much as possible. Nevertheless it was
reported to me on a day I didn't make it to the dining hall that a group of
children were in there making a lot of noise. The sports pitch was also used
by a large group of children that we hadn't been informed about and although
they didn't cross our path it was a bit of a surprise to see them there.

The venue staff did try their best to please us but there were limits on
what they could do. The menus took a significant amount of negotiating
because they had set menus on an 8 week rota. To get things which were
essential for us eg. Salad at lunchtime I had to forfeit choice. Also,
whilst they provided well for gluten free and vegetarians they didn't always
account for dairy free. For vegans they had individual meals prepared.

Darren, the duty manager took great care to make sure things went smoothly.
During the thunderstorm he came from home to check on the fire alarms
knowing that we would not like it if they went off. He discovered that they
had tripped out and the maintenance team were working on them. However, he
warned us that they only had about 15 minutes to complete the work before
they would go off. Fortunately they managed to get to them in time. He also
left his home on Sunday evening to get the key for the piano that had not
been left by another member of staff for the entertainment evening.

Some of the bedrooms and bathroom facilities were not ideal particularly in
Carr house but we were given freedom to move bedrooms around to ones we
hadn't planned on using. Also making all toilets gender neutral prompted
some criticism so we had to change some.

The theatre and classroom block worked well with everything contained in
that area. Dutton was also popular in the evenings despite having steps to
access it. The pool was relatively small but adequate for our needs and was
well attended when it was open. The sports hall proved to be an excellent
location for sparklies in the dark and this event went down very well.

On the whole, despite some criticism of accessibility, menus and rooms, the
overall impression I got from people was that these things could be forgiven
because of its location and lovely countryside walks and views. Even, a
cancelled train from London delaying the start for quite a few people and
two horrendous thunderstorms didn't dampen the spirits of the majority.

With some modifications eg. Having access to the Styall house with ground
floor rooms and not being there at the same time as a summer school, I think
this venue is worth using again.

Appendix C -  Merchandise report (Giggleswick 2015)

This year we had a variety of things for sale. Soft toys - particularly
large teddy bears sold well. We have some small ones left. Key rings -
stimmy type - also sold out. Generic Autscape mugs also sold fairly well.

Glow products were popular especially when we took them to sparklies. Gloves
sold out and these sold out the previous year. Flashing spinning toys also
sold well.

We also had other spinning toys and a few other things left over from the
previous year.

On the whole merchandise was quite popular this year. We do have a small
amount of things left but not a significant amount.