National charity names Inside Croydon among autism heroes

Steven Downes, the editor of Inside Croydon, was honoured by a national charity last night when named Journalist of the Year at the Anna Kennedy Online Autism Hero Awards.

Downes, left, accepts his award from Anna Kennedy and celebrity guest Antony Costa (second right)

According to the official citation, Downes was nominated for the award by Croydon families for coverage of their plight and struggles with Croydon Council, “showing that the local authority has been breaking the law”.

The citation said: “Families are struggling to get the local authority to comply with the law regarding Special Educational Needs.

“Steven is a great supporter of disabled residents and carers. One of Inside Croydon’s recent articles went viral and appeared on the BBC.”

Downes said, “I am flattered and humbled even to be considered for this award.

“After all, I have simply done what any journalist would try to do: finding and telling important human stories, of local families who have been ill-served by the very people that are supposed to be there to help them. I’d like to thank the many mums, dads and Croydon families who have had the courage to share their stories with me, so that I might better highlight the shortcomings that they have to deal with.”

The news of the award was greeted by one senior local politics figure who called it, “fantastic news and fantastic recognition for the amazing reporting that Inside Croydon has produced”.

On a glittering awards night at a Portman Square hotel, charity founder Anna Kennedy and her team raised thousands of pounds for the charity she established and which has founded two schools, a college, a respite home for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Award-winners were gathered from across Britain, from Canada and Germany, and included south London police officer Steve Whitmore, joint winner of the Outstanding Community Award.

Whitmore established a scheme to provide books for all detainees in Metropolitan Police custody. Of the 200,000 individuals process by the police system in London annually, up to 30 per cent of them have learning difficulties or disability. Young people with learning difficulties often find that reading a book helps to calm them in a stressful situation.

And highly commended in the Personal Achievement Awards was Selsdon teenager Prince Reid. Reid, 17, a student at Coulsdon College, has represented Surrey at football and athletics in the past two years, overcoming significant barriers after having been excluded from school and being sent to the Pupil Referral Unit.

Selsdon student Prince Reid and proud mum, Joyce, at last night’s Autism Hero awards

Prince Reid was forced to stay at home for nine months, as his local council failed to find him a school place, and eventually his mother, Joyce – herself a former social worker – found a place for her son at a school in Jamaica. The stability and guidance provided there has allowed Prince Reid to return to Croydon and establish himself in full-time education.

Joyce Reid addressed the Labour Party conference in Liverpool last month, speaking in the education debate of the need to ensure that “no one is left behind”, as a decade of social services and education cuts has seen provision for children and young adults with autism and Special Educational Needs reduced to unacceptable levels.

The case of Prince and Joyce Reid is similar to another instance in which the Local Government Ombudsman recently ruled against Croydon Council for its failure to provide the services it has a statutory duty to deliver, one of a series of such judgements against the council.

The Ombudsman’s ruling including the finding that Croydon Council’s delays in dealing with complaints had caused “extreme distress”.

Speaking to Inside Croydon at the awards evening, Joyce Reid said, “Croydon Council has never provided us with any help. I have made several contacts to get the respite care which we are supposed to be provided, and have never had one day respite.”

  • Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
  • Inside Croydon is the borough’s only independent news source. Still here, after eight years, based in the heart of Croydon
  • Inside Croydon named Journalist of the Year at 2018 Anna Kennedy Online Autism Heroes Awards
  • “Monitored” by the council CEO since 2010
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2017: Inside Croydon was source for two award-winning nominations in Private Eye magazine’s annual celebration of civic cock-ups
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Inside Croydon, Local media and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to National charity names Inside Croydon among autism heroes

  1. Nick Mattey says:

    Well Done Inside Croydon. I hope all the politicians who dislike the honesty of Inside Croydon appreciate that a free press is fundamental to democracy.

  2. As the Croydon Citizen closes, Inside Croydon gets an award.

  3. Anna Arthur says:

    Many congratulations. I don’t always agree with what you say but absolutely defend your right to say it.

  4. Frank says:

    Congratulations Steven!

  5. Pingback: 5 Croydon arts groups win covid grants, but not Fairfield Halls - Inside Croydon | Philanthropy Media Network

  6. Congratulations.

Leave a Reply