“Hello, my name is Elaine Powell and I’m a peer support project worker and carer’s lead in the adult ADHD and autism service at the Trust.
“My knowledge and experience in the field of ADHD, autism and neurodevelopmental conditions spans over 35 years. I am a qualified teacher and university lecturer with a teaching specialism in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). I am also a researcher and have undertaken health research at university, working with NHS Trusts across the country and other healthcare governing bodies.
“My lived experience and journey began as I’m a parent and a previous carer of someone with ADHD. As a parent and carer, I fought to set up a service and specialist support for people with ADHD in Kirklees, working with the local education authority, Kirklees Council and the NHS Trust. At the time there were no ADHD support services in health, education, or social care in Kirklees, and many professionals did not believe the condition existed.
“For over eight years I attended Trust-wide meetings, tirelessly volunteering my time to push this agenda and to get a service in place. My passion, dedication and hard work led to the Trust piloting an adult ADHD service. In 2009, the pilot service became the current Trust-wide ADHD and autism adult service. This made South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust the first Trust in the country to deliver this service and to have a full time substantive position in place in adult ADHD services.
“The journey to set up and deliver the service was long and hard, but I am so proud of the role I played, and the service we now have in place, and I cannot imagine what things would be like if we still had no service or support for local people.
“During my time working with the Trust and advocating for ADHD services, I contributed to the creation of documents for professionals in education who work with people with ADHD and their families. An example is a booklet which was rolled-out across all schools in Kirklees. I have also supported and advised on changes to policies and procedures across various partner organisations, implementing best practice and new ways of working.
“I have acted as an independent consultant in hidden impairments (ADHD and autism spectrum conditions) for many years. In this role I trained professionals in ADHD and neurodevelopmental conditions. This included specialist social workers, teachers, police, doctors, consultants and other colleagues working in mental health or with children and families.
“I have worked with parents and carers, support groups and networks on a local, regional and national level and have many years of expertise in service user and carer involvement in education and patient and public involvement in medical education and health. I am the co-founder of a service user group at a local university which has been successfully running for almost 15 years. I strongly believe in co-production and I have always involved service users and carers in my teaching work.
“I chose to return to the adult ADHD and autism service as a peer support project worker as I continue to feel passionate about helping the service in any way I can to develop further. During my short time in the role, I have become carers’ lead for the service, and I am a carer champion. I have also developed the carers pathway for the service which will now be rolled out to all other areas the service covers.
“In September 2021, I was awarded the British Citizen Award for my work in health and within ADHD services at the Trust. I was nominated for the award by previous Trust chair, Angela Monaghan, and the executive management team. The award was also supported by Professor Marios Adamou who leads the Trust’s adult ADHD and autism service and is soon to be honoured himself with an OBE for his work. This was a very special medal of honour for me as it was my first official recognition of 45 years of being a volunteer in the community.
“I would like to end my story (so far!) by encouraging others who have lived experience for example as a service user or carer, to become a peer support worker at the Trust. Nothing beats the hands on lived experience or skills that you have to offer. Being an expert by experience, you can help others who know you have walked in their shoes also, and as I move forward; I hope I can continue to make a difference to people’s lives.”
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