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Charity marks 20 years of helping young people with ADHD - it all Adds+Up

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:35 17 January 2018

The End of Project Open Day performance by children at the Add+Up Drop-in Centre

The End of Project Open Day performance by children at the Add+Up Drop-in Centre

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A small Romford charity is celebrating their 20th anniversary with a special ball.

Add+up charity founder Sheila Keeling with son Martin Kelly on the day he was officially made a Metropolitan police officer. Add+up charity founder Sheila Keeling with son Martin Kelly on the day he was officially made a Metropolitan police officer.

A small Hornchurch charity is celebrating their 20th anniversary with a special ball.

Attention Deficit Disorders Uniting Parents (Add+Up) based in Billet Lane, is a support and action group run by parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The charity has been supporting young people with ADHD for 20 years and plans to celebrate the anniversary with an anniversary ball on Saturday, January 27 at the Forest Row Centre, Collier Row.

Sheila Keeling manager of the charity is excited for the event that will be attended by the Mayor of Havering Councillor Linda Van den Hende and Colonel Mark Bryant, the patron of their action group.

She said: “It’s quite a milestone for us. We’ve gone from a small group that worked out of a cupboard in my house, to a charity that has won lots of awards.

“We’ve survived despite losses in funding and we’ve watched our young people go on to universities and apprenticeships,

“Over the years we’ve worked with numerous children and have seen them all grow. It’s going to be quite a big event of for us.”

Add+Up runs after-school schemes and a six week volunteer member programme that trains up their younger members to eventually become mentors.

The programme aims to prepare the young mentors for working life by allowing them to take on more responsibilities and have their say in some staff meetings.

Sheila’s son, Martin Kelly has benefited from the programme himself. He now works as a police officer, but still volunteers with the children at Add+Up.

Their ‘The Monster Inside’ programme provides support for the whole family by working with the parents of children with ADHD.

Sheila explained: “ADHD impacts the whole family, particularly the parents. The Monster Inside programme helps parents get into the mind of their children with ADHD, and learn how to better manage the difficulties they face.

“It teaches the children that when their ‘monster’ which represents their ADHD, gets really big they might feel angry, but when their monster is small, they can hopefully manage their ADHD better.

“We’ve developed the programme over the years through our work with the children. It’s all about helping the child learn to embrace their ADHD and how to work with it for a better outcome.”

Lyndsay Marsh, centre support officer for Add+Up, said: “We have grown from strength to strength. When I was first involved, all we used to do was a summer project and an afternoon school club.

Sheila and Lyndsay feel that having overcome economic pressures and controversy towards ADHD, to survive these twenty years, is a testament to their strength as an organisation.

“We suffered badly on social media in the early days. Some people look at a child with ADHD and think they are just a naughty child.

“We’ve worked hard to prove that ADHD really does exist and that work still continues,” Sheila said.

“Since then we have gone on to start activities over the half terms, a drama group and social development groups.

“I would say we’re unrecognisable now to how we were when we first started out.”

Matthew Sarll, aged 21, has ADHD and mild autism, and he has used the services of Add+Up since he was ten years old.

Mum, Fiona Robinson, 50, from Waldegrave Gardens, Upminster told the Recorder: “Matthew began with Add-Up when he was quite young and was being bullied at school. When he was at Add+Up he just felt normal, it felt like home for him.

“They made him a volunteer and even awarded him a Jack Petchey award for his volunteering.”

Fiona has also been able to experience Add+Up’s service for parents.

“With the training that is available for parents, we have been able to support Matthew much better,” Fiona added.

Matthew, who now works as a mechanic for Ford, said: “The best thing, is being able to volunteer and give something back to Add+Up.”

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