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New SWAN Strategy

20 Feb 2024

New SWAN Strategy  Cover image

We’re very pleased to have launched our new SWAN Strategy, which builds on SWAN’s work with autistic women, girls and non-binary people across Scotland since we were founded in 2012 and sets out our purpose, mission and strategic priorities for the next 10 years.

Background and context

Our new strategy was informed by the priorities, knowledge and experiences of the SWAN network of autistic women and non-binary people, our autistic staff, trustees and volunteers, and wider stakeholders including the people and organisations who refer to our services and attend our training.

Since SWAN was founded in 2012, both the organisation and the landscape for autistic women in Scotland have evolved. From its beginnings as a small, volunteer-led community group, SWAN has grown into a ground-breaking and award-winning autistic-led charity. For over 10 years, SWAN has delivered services, information and support both for and by autistic women across Scotland, whilst remaining true to its ethos of placing the voices and experiences of those autistic women at the centre of everything we do.

Having gone through a period of significant change and growth in our 10th year, including a new CEO, website and branding, it was important for us to review and clarify our strategy – to ensure we have a clear vision and mission for the future, as well as a clear sense of who we are outlined through a set of core values.

As the only organisation in Scotland focused on the intersectionality of autism and gender, it was also important our new strategy reflects the changes which have occurred in this area over the past 10 years. This has meant the start of a new journey for SWAN – from an autistic women’s organisation, to one where all autistic women and non-binary people are equally welcomed, included, and supported by us.

To reflect this change, we have updated our name and are now legally registered as SWAN Autism (Scotland) – we will continue to be known as and operate under the name ‘SWAN’.

Our Strategy

While we have updated and refocused the language, SWAN’s core purpose remains much the same as it was at our inception:

“Autistic women, girls and non-binary people in Scotland feel valued, understood and connected”

    Our mission is to achieve this by bringing autistic women and non-binary people together to meet others like them and access professional, autistic-led services and peer support which respond to their whole life experiences:

    “SWAN is an organisation led by autistic women, girls and non-binary people for the benefit of autistic women, girls and non-binary people. We create the change we’d like to see in our lives and in society.

      We do this by providing opportunities to connect with and learn from one another through information-sharing, peer support and mentoring. We work in partnership with you and others to drive the change you want to see, and to improve the lives of autistic women, girls and non-binary people in Scotland.”

      To help us achieve our mission in line with our newly defined values, we have identified 4 strategic themes - linked to a set of long-term outcomes - where our community wants and needs to see change to help us feel valued, understood and connected:

      • Autistic identity
      • Mental health
      • Life stages and transitions
      • Access and inclusion

      "We are very proud of all the energy and hard work that has gone into developing this new strategy. 

      It reflects the experiences and priorities of the autistic women and non-binary people who come to, volunteer or work for SWAN and sets out the change we want to see over the next 10 years for autistic women and non-binary people in Scotland. 

      We are excited to share it with you, and to translate this into action." 

      - Lyndsay Macadam, SWAN CEO 

      The full strategy is available to read or download here.