Group provide support network for sufferers of ‘hidden disability’

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Determined mothers Leigh Morton and Tracey Goodrum used their own struggles as inspiration to form a group which fights for awareness of ‘hidden disabilities’. 
Leigh Morton of Ripley and Tracey Goodrum of Langley Mill are both parents to teenagers with autism. They set up support group Frantic Families with the aim of providing a support network to Amber Valley parents and carers of children and young people who have autism, ADHD and associated conditions.

The group, which meets monthly at Langley Mill Welfare Club, encourages parents to ‘let off steam’ and provides a safe environment to share stories, help and advice.

Leigh, 50, said: “We wanted to provide support and a place to chat were parents and carers could unwind and be around other parents that were in similar circumstances – where they weren’t judged and could be listened to.

“We have gained in strength and numbers, and the mums and dads who come to group are brilliant. Our children and young adults have a hidden disability, so we do not get the help and support that other families get. But they stay strong and fight, that’s all any of us do is fight for what is right for our families.”

Tracey, 46, added: “I have met a lot of people on my travels with my son and his difficulties, but I never thought I would be running such a good constituted voluntary group with a woman who has become my best friend, who I can laugh, cry and scream with but who in no uncertain terms will ever judge me.”

The group has just received a kind-hearted donation of £1,000 from the Orca Health Group, which will be used to organise a day trip to Skegness for members and their families, as well as contributing towards a pamper day for parents, and group running costs. 
Whilst the group is going from strength to strength now, it hasn’t always been an easy ride for the duo.

Leigh explained; “Back in 2003, Gary Robinson, who is a doctor based at Temple House in Derby, got parents and carers together who were in the process of obtaining a diagnosis for their children. I was one of those original parents.

“Meanwhile Tracey attended a course called 123 Magic and met parents from Langley Mill who were asking for a support group. She came to one of our meetings and then went on to set up her own group at the Bungalow in Langley Mill.”

“In 2007 both groups joined together and arranged for the monthly meetings to be held at the Bungalow. The group took off, people were connecting, guest speakers were brought in, and everything was running smoothly until we were told Derbyshire County Council had sold the premises and we no longer had a meeting point.

“Luckily Tracey’s neighbour – an Aldercar and Langley Mill parish councillor – helped organise the use and short-term payment of a new site which was the Langley Mill Welfare Club. It was a difficult time as we didn’t want the group to fall apart, for so many our meetings can be a lifeline and the breathing space they need to stay strong and keep going.
“Luckily we managed – with a lot of help – to get everything sorted and the welfare club on Station Road is still our meeting point. However, we have had to start paying rent, so we became a constitution which meant we had to form a committee. Thanks to Amber Valley Centre for Voluntary Services (AVCVS), who aided us through this process.

“After a bumpy ride as a group we have now settled and hope to continue our hard work in supporting families across the borough and Nottinghamshire.

“Tracey and I continue to attend networking sessions and conferences and gain more experience and knowledge we can share with everyone.”

For more information about the group visit www.franticfamilies.co.uk.