An Andover woman has set up a community hub aimed at supporting neurodivergent communities in Andover.

Tori Rist has launched the Koala Community Hub, which will hold a variety of groups targeted at those with conditions such as autism and ADHD to provide specialist support for their needs. Her group comes ahead of a planned special school, Andover Small School, which she aims to launch soon.

Tori told the Advertiser: “There’s so much demand, it’s crazy. We’ve asked what people need, and some want help navigating education, some want support for their own mental health, and there’s so much else.

“The Koala Community Hub is for the community so we need people to tell us what we need so we can provide it.”

Neurodivergent is a term used to refer to a wide range of variation in perception, attention and learning in the brain that differs from what is considered typical by society at large.

Tori's daughter Florence is neurodivergent, with Tori having spent many years helping people as a teacher as well as co-founding the Andover Isolation Group in lockdown. Over the past few years, she has been the driving force behind the Andover Small School, which plans to set up a new special school in or near to Andover.

The community hub spun out of that, with Tori saying: “Last year, when we opened the Andover Isolation Group, we had a lot of contact from neurodiverse families who were struggling.

“It’s really interesting as I always knew that we wanted a community hub but when the small school got pushed back by a year I thought this idea had legs and the school could give something back to the community.”

Tori launched an adults group last year, and has plans to start a parents group and teens group in the coming months. There may also be groups for others, like toddlers and carers, in future, and Tori hopes to begin running them weekly by applying for funding due to the demand.

She said: “We’re getting so many requests for support in Andover as there’s not much to support neurodiverse families, such as autism and ADHD. We’ve got Mencap, who are amazing, but they tend to focus on learning disabilities alongside autism, so it’s kind of a different service.”

She says that the emphasis is always on giving people in need the best care, and she will redirect those getting in touch if she thinks someone else can serve their needs better.

“We’re very much in the infancy stages, developing our website and offer, and it’s very important that we want to work with other organisations and agencies in the area,” Tori said. “Somebody looking for some services from us may be better served by Andover Mencap or Unity depending on what it is, so we’re really keen to work with them.”

Tori is also hoping in the future to give the hub a physical presence, once the school has been established. She’s currently looking at spaces in central Andover, with the potential to use an empty shop unit.

“At the moment, everything is in the Queen Charlotte as Vicki [Harber, the landlady] lets us have the restaurant for free, but by the end of the year we could have all our own equipment and drop ins in our own space. We’re keeping our ears open for somewhere.”

Tori has asked that anyone wanting to learn more or get involved in the hub should get in touch with her to help understand what the community needs. She can be reached via or by visiting: