PD Ports are proud to announce a new partnership with award-winning North East charity Daisy Chain – a forward-thinking agreement that will see our two organisations share mutual and meaningful support.

With the joint aim of improving the lives of autistic and neurodivergent people across the region, the new collaboration has been launched ahead of World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Acceptance Week.

PD Ports’ chief executive officer, Frans Calje, and Daisy Chain’s chief executive officer, Neeraj Sharma, met to formally announce the agreement and their commitment to improving employment practices that can make neurodivergent people feel unsupported or unable to progress in the workplace.

Under the partnership – which makes Daisy Chain our charity of choice for 2024 – PD Ports will provide financial support to support the charity’s annual retreats for young service users.

The residential trips, to a range of locations, provide the opportunity for young people to experience new, exciting activities they might not usually be able to do, while also providing parents/families with respite. These trips have been shown to promote independence, build confidence and foster friendships with peers, a key part of Daisy Chain’s empowerment-based mission.

PD Ports will also offer volunteering hours from our workforce at Daisy Chain’s Calf Fallow Farm headquarters, in Norton, Stockton, and its fundraising store on Portrack Lane.

In return, we will benefit from Daisy Chain’s expertise; improving our organisational knowledge and understanding of neurodiversity and accessing training and guidance that will inform our internal policies and practices.

This learning will positively impact the experience and wellbeing of our neurodivergent colleagues and, in turn, create more inclusive environments that attract and retain talent.

Frans Calje, chief executive officer of PD Ports, said: “This is an alliance that aims to make us a better employer to our neurodivergent workforce, while supporting Daisy Chain in its great work across the region.

“It would have been very easy for us to hand over some money to Daisy Chain, pat ourselves on the back and consider it job done, but we wanted to engage meaningfully with Neeraj and his team, and they with us, to help us to make lasting improvements that will benefit not only our current employees but also potential candidates in future.

“We’re pleased, in return, to support the retreats for young people, which offer experiences they might not otherwise be able to access. We also recognise the importance of respite for family members – many of whom will also be working while providing a caring role.”

Neeraj Sharma, chief executive officer of Daisy Chain, explained why partnerships like this are so integral: “Daisy Chain services – inclusive of social clubs, respite care, wellbeing, independent living skills and animal therapy – cost tens of thousands of pounds to run before we even factor in staff wages.

“Support from organisations like PD Ports enables us to continue to provide essential frontline services and create opportunities wherever possible for the people and families we support.

“This partnership is a fantastic example of a company seeing the ripple effect of its support, and also committing to being part of changing the narrative, pulling down barriers and enabling us to make the world a safer, more inclusive place for every kind of mind.”

Annually, Daisy Chain supports and empowers more than 5,000 autistic and neurodivergent individuals through the provision of holistic person-centred services, whilst promoting training, wellbeing, inclusion and acceptance regionally and nationwide.