Camphill Communities of Ireland

Case Study

“ADHD is a life-long disorder, and it’s completely possible to get under control.

Understanding ADD/ADHD is key. You are who you are – be proud of it.

Life can be better. There is a brighter future for families and people with the condition.”

BNest Incubator Programme 2016/2017 Participant

The Challenge

ADD/ADHD Mid-West Support Group is a group of parents providing support to families and adults affected by attention deficit disorder.

The group was set up in 1997 and since then is tirelessly helping families to learn more about ADHD and coexisting conditions. They show people not only how to cope with it, but how to make the most of it, as ADHD comes not only with challenges, but also with strengths and advantages.

Bridget Kelly and Evelyn Pepperrell list the main challenges their group was facing before joining BNest:

1. Rising the awareness about both – the condition itself and about the support group,

2. Providing ongoing support for all families in need, by creating a tailored parenting programme,

3. Finding different ways to finance their activity.

We didn’t feel there was any support for parent’s groups like ours, even though we’ve been doing what should be government bodies responsibility.

There is not enough support for ADD – it is not seen as a major issue – giving out medication is the solution. But it is a big deal to the family and it is a big deal to the child.

Bridget and Evelyn highlight the importance of issues prevention:

Prevention is crucial. If you have right support and right information – you can really get ahead of the game and don’t let the negatives affect the family. But, sadly – there isn’t enough support. Once diagnosed you’re pretty much left on your own – you might be encouraged to take a parenting course – which won’t solve ADHD.

If you don’t take time to understand ADHD you’ll find it very frustrating to deal with it.

It can’t be fixed – so instead of trying to fix it – you need to accommodate what is ADHD and give them strategies to manage it. There are a lot of people lost in it.

ADD/ADHD Support Group could clearly see the need for a parenting course designed specifically for families with children with ADD/ADHD, but they needed some support to make it happen:

We couldn’t do that unless we upped our game. Even though we knew what we wanted – we just couldn’t get there.

The Journey

Bridget heard about our programme from an article in a local newspaper and at the same time Evelyn was recommended the programme at a networking event – and they both instantly felt that they wanted to take part.

They have run parent support group for years, then it became a charity and now it was time to add a business element to it, to make sure that it was growing and becoming sustainable. And this is where they needed BNest support the most.

For Bridget and Evelyn BNest programme was an opportunity to step away from routine activities and a chance to take a broader view:

It is easy to get sucked in by day-to-day activities and get a little lost. It was so important to unravel ourselves, take a step out and have a look at the bigger picture.

Being involved in this charity is a great and fulfilling chance to give back, but it takes your time, your care – but it also drags you in, like a whirlpool. And at times, when there are so few of you doing it – there are days you feel so overwhelmed, thinking you just can’t do it anymore. Because there are so many other things going on in your life – you just can’t do it. And you start having this argument with yourself – you have the passion and care, but there is nobody else to pick up that piece if you drop the ball.

Both ladies agree that BNest programme was easy to follow, even though Bridget had some concerns about joining it:

“I felt I’m too old, I was worried I wouldn’t know what they were talking about, I’d be lost.”

But fortunately, none of these concerns became the reality:

“It was the most welcoming, caring place I have been in!”

Programme was easy to follow and we saw clearly how it moved – we took a learning from each module.

It was well spread out, so it wasn’t overwhelming – it gave us time and we were given little deadlines to make sure we got stuff done.

At the start in September we were quite nervous thinking about the Showcase Day, but by March – we were ready for it!

Mentorship style suited us – it was structured and well organised, yet friendly at the same time. Guiding us through the journey without telling us what to do.

Eamon’s and Kasia’s minds were taking in everything we said and putting together ideas that were previously scattered away in our heads and shared them back to us in a structured way that could be used.

Pauline’s resilience sessions were also great help:

No matter how bad the worst day is – you’re still ok, you’re here, you can step out of it and when you step back in you’ll be far more productive.

When asked about the highlight of the programme Evelyn looks back on design thinking workshop:

We all have this fabulous creativity inside us, but it gets squashed with frustrations and all the challenges we come across – we all have such a great potential waiting to be rediscovered. I loved the way we really had to listen to another person carefully and create something meaningful for them. Even if at first you didn’t see why we’re doing it – it didn’t take long to see the learning from it. You put something in our way that has stopped us in our tracks and made us think rather than jump to conclusions and solutions – and we came out the other side totally different and with opened mind. It felt like we could take on the world after that exercise. We started thinking about all those things we could do, rather than we couldn’t do.

Another memorable moment of the programme was an exercise when participants we had to present their projects in possible real-life scenarios:

Sitting in the board room, in front of other people who didn’t have any experience with ADHD, talking about what we do – it was a great, empowering moment.

We felt knowledgeable, that we know our stuff, we were able to answer all the questions really well and we felt we have something really valuable to offer – you always know you had it, but it was an important practice. It is easy for us to talk to families affected by ADHD, as they know exactly what we are talking about – but this time was different – we had to present our ideas to people “outside” and the fact they got and loved them was very important and empowering to us.

Another aspect of the programme that was highly appreciated was the peer group:

Going in there and knowing you’re in position similar to others in the group.

And they weren’t there just to sit and listen – they cared about our stuff as much as we cared about theirs.

Exchanging ideas across the group was crucial – when you stand outside you see things differently than if you’re deep inside.

Both ladies took inspiration from our guest speakers:

It was great to meet with other social entrepreneurs.

They shared some great stories – you will strive along the way, but you will also face challenges and you must keep going.

Listening to Emma Murphy of Counselling Care Cork and her story of passion and perseverance was great experience – we definitely got great learning from it!

BNest Impact

BNest showed us different ways of looking at our project – there are loads of various ways of doing things!

It also showed that you don’t always need to be on your own – you can collaborate with different people and benefit greatly from it.

If we didn’t take part in BNest we’d be close to finishing up – we wouldn’t have closed because our hearts wouldn’t let us, but we would just have plodded and we needed some extra support to get what we wanted. We’ve been there for so long and we’ve done the same thing – and we felt we couldn’t do any more.

While Evelyn, Bridget and whole ADD/ADHD Midwest Support Group team are extremely experienced in dealing with this condition and supporting families affected by it, they didn’t have enough business know-how:

We are civilians, running parents support group – we had little idea on how to deal with the business aspects of organisations like ours. We are a support group, but for the first time we felt supported. We’ve gained a better view of the business side. 

We’ve landed with such a great support, which we didn’t expect.

We came in flats and walked out in heels.

Bridget and Evelyn still rely on the marketing help they received:

We knew all the small pieces of it, because we have learned them along the way. But we needed somebody to help us to bring it together – and to show we have something valuable to offer.

We are really excited to start using our new logo with “There is a Brighter Future” tagline – we’re projecting the positivity rather than focusing on the negativity and problem solving.

That really added value – Kasia really gave her time and got into our heads to find out what we’re doing.

Since finishing the BNest programme ADD/ADHD Midwest Support Group have reached some important milestones:

• we have met with HSE Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and have started meaningful dialogue with them.

• we are in the process of restructuring our board – we have one new board member (psychologist) appointed and another one will be joining us soon.

• we have drafted a letter to potential corporate funders and we are speaking with medication manufacturers.

• we were asked for couple of radio interviews which was great experience, as we knew how to get our point across.

The Next Challenge

There is a lot happening in the group recently, so the next biggest challenge will be trying to get the board right. Second challenge will be applying for funding that will enable ADD/ADHD Midwest Support Group to help a bigger number of the families.

Bridget and Evelyn are hoping to get to the point where HSE or TUSLA will buy their personalised parenting/wellness programmes for families with ADHD:

Our individual programmes will give children and their families a set of coping skills that are crucial for the wellbeing of the whole family. Existing, generic parenting programmes don’t work with ADHD, as there are many factors to consider – severity of the condition, siblings, parents attitude, experience etc.

We can definitely see the need for such programmes and we will do everything we can to make them accessible to every family in need.

Recommendation

Both Evelyn and Bridget would highly recommend BNest Social Enterprise Incubator programme:

You can’t afford not to do it. You’ll get your ideas pulled apart and put back together.

It is an opportunity too good to miss.

It will help to declutter your mind – get a better sense of clarity.

Even, if by the end of the programme, you don’t go to the destination you have expected – you still have a whole new set of tools to help you on your journey.