A ceremonial torch relay has begun as part of a Northampton-based autism charity's 25th anniversary.
Autism Concern is celebrating 25 years of helping Northamptonshire's special needs young people by uniting with the region's Autism East Midlands family.
The two charities are merging and held an open day yesterday (January 9) to introduce the new partnership to parents and users.
As part of the celebrations, Autism East Midlands, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary, has passed on a "torch" made by autistic young people, which will now travel to all the charity's offices over the next 12 months.
Director of development for Autism Concern Will Burchell said: "For us, it's an opportunity to for us to bring something to the community.
"We can improve on what we can offer for children and young people, whether that's a trip to Florida or a day-out somewhere new or just to help them find employment and discover something they can do for society. This is the beginning of something."
Autism Concern will work with Autism East Midlands to help provide children and young people with special educational needs services they often cannot otherwise access, such as short-term respite, work experience and also short-breaks for their parents and carers.
Amanda Hewitt is a parent of a 10-year-old boy with multiple needs from Brackley and has been using Autism Concern for six years.
She said: "This merger is really encouraging. It will help Autism concern provide an adult service as well. These children will grow up too one day and it's a whole-life journey. Autism Concern is set to have a connection with them all the way through."
Autism Concern will continue operating from their main office in Burlington House, Wellingborough Road, Northampton.
Robert Woodford, chair of trustees for Autism Concern, said: "For us, the most exciting thing will be that we are able to provide many new services and areas of expertise in the future. This includes a move into adult services, extending and modernizing our children’s services offering and improving advice related activity."