NEW!! Scroll down to see our upcoming Webinars & check out our blogs from volunteers at Focus Surrey
Focus Surrey was founded in May 2016 by parents of children with autism, including Susan Archdall, the current Chair and Operations Manager. A Saturday club was set up, providing local families with a safe, nurturing, fun and child-centred environment for children with ASD. In May 2018, Focus Surrey was granted official charity status by the Charity Commission (registered charity 1178378). This was a significant milestone for the club which is now planning for its 9th term 2021. We are incredibly proud to have trained more than 200 volunteers in the principles of ABA and given them hands on experience working with children with special needs with many having gone on to work in the SEN field. But our greatest achievement is helping children with autism learn to communicate, play and develop their social skills.
Focus Surrey Saturday Club
Our Saturday club aims to introduce the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to families who want to start using ABA, as well as being an extra resource for those already familiar to it. Run over 12 weeks, the club aims to be nurturing, fun and child-centred, and is open to children aged from two to 16 years. Children are split by age into two groups, one of which meets in the morning and the other the afternoon.
Sessions are constructed and led by our fantastic ABA professionals (see below) and each child has their own one to one volunteer tutor. Children can practice social and play skills, improve their communication skills and work on specific individual targets determined in consultation with parents. Parents are also given the opportunity to train to be a volunteer tutor so they can work alongside their child learning how to use the new skills.
“Saturday playgroup is energetic, inspiring, uplifting & extremely well run”
(Kath – Parent and Volunteer)
Parents must stay on-site for the duration of the club, but we run regular talks by guest speakers for parents on autism related topics whilst the club is running. It’s also a great place to meet other families who are in a similar position to yours plus there is free wifi available and light refreshments for the adults.
Although we’re not able to provide the club free of charge, if you are self funding then places are subsidised. We can also accept payment through your Local Authority.
Focus Surrey's 8th term was scheduled to run from February until June 2020 but was sadly cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the ongoing rules around social distancing, we have made the decision to start afresh in 2021. We hope that you are all keeping safe and healthy and from all of us at Focus Surrey, we look forward to seeing everyone when we finally re-open.
For more details on our Saturday Club or to register your interest contact
Volunteer with us...
It is National Volunteers Week 2021. We would like to say a massive thank you to the more than 200 volunteers who have supported Focus Surrey since 2016!
Are you interested in a career in special needs education? Do you enjoy working with autistic children and helping them learn whilst having a lof of fun? Why don't you train to be one of our volunteer tutors?
To date, Focus Surrey has provided training for over 220 tutors and young volunteers who are interested in special needs education, helping to enhance their skills development and career prospects and generating further opportunities for local employment. They are trained in Autism, Applied Behaviour Analysis and how to encourage communication and enhance play skills for children with ASD.
All new tutors receive two full days of training on Applied Behaviour Analysis, an evidence-based approach, delivered by two Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBAs). This is followed by one day of physical intervention training. After the initial three days training, the tutors continue to receive support, supervision and training while the club is running.
Not all of Focus Surrey’s volunteers are looking for a career in special education. We have had volunteers who are parents or siblings of children with Autism. Parent volunteers can train alongside their children to enable them to continue using the principles of ABA at home and we have also trained parents whose children didn’t attend the club but wanted to learn strategies for their own children.
The feedback that we get from our volunteers is overwhelmingly positive!
“Focus Surrey is the best hands-on work experience, the training, the constant support from room leaders, the real sense that I was part of a team made me look forward to every Saturday. And best of all, the fact that I was able to see we made a positive change in the lives of the children we worked with made it all worth it.”
Nicoleta, Kingston University student and former volunteer
Furthermore, tutor feedback from every term indicates that 100% of volunteers
would recommend the volunteering experience.
We are now looking to recruit volunteer tutors for our next term starting September 2021.
Tutors complete two days of training in order to help develop volunteers' knowledge of autism, ABA and the skills required.
If you are interested in working with children with autism, please click here for further details.
Focus Surrey Guest Speaker Series
Focus Surrey is known for the high calibre of its speakers who attend the Saturday Club to talk on a variety of autism related subjects.
Some of Focus Surreys' previous guest speakers (L to R)
Fundraise for us...
Focus Surrey is an incorporated charity and does not receive any statutory funding. We are solely dependent on grants, donations and fundraising in order to be able to offer this fantastic club to local autistic children and their families at a subsidised rate.
We do this in a number of ways.
Cake stalls, annual quizzes, raffles, dragon boat races, fun runs, stalls at local charity events...we have done it all!
Our last quiz night in December 2019 raised over £2000!!
We raised £240 through our stall at the Cheam Charter Fair in 2019 which helped to buy equipment for the club.
Aberdour School ran a swimathon in 2019 and donated over £1700 to us.
We raised over £1600 in the Kingston Dragon Boat race through sponsorship of our team!
Our Board of Trustees have worked closely together to secure grants from
the Sutton Community Fund and also from Els for Autism UK.
Our first Fundraiser of 2021!
On-line Mini-Facial Party
Friends, parents and supporters of Focus Surrey spent the evening on Friday March 26th, relaxing and having a facial. In our first fundraising activity of the year we were using amazing facial kits from "Neal's Yard" which were delivered to our doors - with no need for us to go anywhere! Wearing comfy clothes, relaxing in a chair with a drink of something lovely beside us, our Neal's Yard Independent Consultant Shakti lead us through a mini-facial skincare routine.
Thank you to everyone who bought tickets, came to the pamper evening; donated prizes; shared our posts; told their friends and helped to raise money for the charity. Everyone left the evening feeling relaxed and fresh faced, and we raised an amazing £781.25 for the charity:
£241.25 from Neal's Yard products bought after the pamper evening as Shakti generously donated her commission to Focus Surrey
£420 in ticket sales
and £120 through voluntary donations when the participants registered for the event.
How you can help...
Meet the Team
Tracey Tibbals (BCBA)
Karolina holds a Masters Degree in psychology from Poland, which she gained in 2003. In 2009, she was awarded a Diploma in Play Therapy.
She has worked on numerous home ABA programmes and has supported clients in mainstream schools and nurseries.
Karolina received her BCBA accreditation in 2017, studying at the Florida Institute of Technology. As a keen yoga enthusiast, Karolina is also qualified to teach yoga to children with special needs and is keen to promote wellbeing of the mind as well as the body.
Tracey has more than 15 years of experience working with children with autism and related language delays. Whilst at university, she worked as a tutor on a home programme for a young boy.
After tutoring on two further ABA programmes, Tracey joined
Rainbow School, an ABA school in London, working her way up to senior supervisor/consultant.
Tracey has worked with children with a range of different needs and abilities including ASD, ADHD, emotional and behavioural difficulties and Global Developmental Delay. She has a Masters in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Bangor University and is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst.
Board of Trustees
Sue is a mum of two, whose eldest daughter has ASD. When she started a home ABA programme in April 2014, she saw immediate results and became an instant advocate for ABA.
Sue has worked as a programme manager for graduate trainees and as a journalist. In her spare time, she established a network for employees with disabilities and those with disabled family members.
She has a Masters in Human Resources, a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism and a BA in International Relations and Psychology. Sue first became involved with Focus South London which her daughter attended, and was very excited to get the opportunity to launch Focus Surrey in September 2016. Sue has volunteered as the Saturday club's Operations Manager since September 2016 as well as chair of trustees from May 2018.
June is a parent carer of a young adult son with autism who has been in a specialist ABA placement since he was 6 years old. She is experienced and trained in SEND advocacy and is a volunteer at SOSSEN, a SEND charity based in Richmond.
Her role involves advising parents/carers at their advice centres and helplines, drafting documents for appeals or attending mediation/meetings with them.
June has a degree in Chemistry and Economics, was self-employed as a leatherwear designer, has been a school governor, is nearly completing a law degree and is enjoying being a grandmother!
Kath's 9-year-old daughter has a diagnosis of ASD and ADHD. Kath has been running an ABA home schooling programme since 2017 and watched her daughter thrive ever since. Kath is a successful advocate for ABA. Kath enrolled her daughter into Focus Surrey in 2020 to assist with her socialisation. Having seen the energetic, inspiring, uplifting and extremely well run Saturday playgroup - Kath immediately volunteered.
Through Focus Surrey, Kath would like to share her experience with other families and hopes to empower them with knowledge and strategies that have helped with the progress of her own child.
Kath is Director Of Licensing , Warner Music and has been with the company for 30 years. Following Kath's own love and involvement with music, along with her own daughter's first communication through song, Kath acted on this and enrolled her daughter in Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy sessions. Kath plays an active role as ambassador for the charity. Often making speeches at corporate events to raise money. Kath is also on hand for interviews regarding charity awareness.
Lisa Masarati has been working in education for the past 15 years, with the last 9 years working with SEN in a number of different roles. She currently works as a SENCO in mainstream schools and recently completed a post graduate qualification - the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination.
Lisa's commitment to supporting pupils with special educational needs has been strengthened by having a son with Autism. When he was 3, they began a home ABA program. This approach was particularly effective in enabling her son to acquire skills that he had really struggled with previously, such as motivating him and getting his attention. Lisa is passionate about sharing her experiences of ABA with other parents and is really proud to be a trustee of Focus Surrey. Through Focus, it is her aim that more families will be introduced to an ABA approach and parents will be given the knowledge and confidence to implement some of the strategies and see progress with their own child.
Hoi has been working at home as an ABA tutor with her teenage daughter for a year. This involved applying Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) on a daily basis to develop her daughter's life skills, communication skills and reading and practical maths.
Hoi gave a talk at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists’ Clinical Excellence Network for SLTs with an Interest in ABA Study Day, to share her personal experience as a parent as well as an ABA tutor, especially during the period of the first UK Lockdown in 2020.
"I feel passionate what I am doing as an ABA tutor," Hoi said. Hoi would like to support other parents of children with ASD by sharing her own personal experience as a mother of a child with ASD as well as her experience being an ABA tutor. Focus Surrey will also benefit from Hoi's professional skills as an accountant. Hoi has worked as an accountant for more than 10 years.
Amanda has supported Focus Surrey from its inception, being part of the support crew at its first Dragon Boat fundraiser! Full of energy, Amanda has worked tirelessly to support Focus Surrey from undertaking reference checks, to proof reading and helping to register Focus Surrey with the Charity Commission. She is a hands on trustee with a can do attitude!
Amanda has a long history of raising money for charity and supporting charitable initiatives including Marie Curie; Cancer Research UK; BBC Children in Need and has even shaved her head for the Royal Marsden cancer campaign.
Amanda has undertaken a wide variety of jobs including data analyst, examiner, teaching English as a foreign language, working on a kibbutz and working with children with learning difficulties. Her social awareness and degree in Psychology gives her a keen eye for detail and broad social understanding which makes her an asset to Focus Surrey.
Why is a Saturday club important? Our Chair, Sue, answers:
A birthday party invitation for my oldest daughter is a treasured item in our house, a play date a rare occurrence and friends extremely rare. My daughter has Autism Spectrum Disorder and finds it difficult to communicate, she has trouble getting the words out and understanding the social nuances that are involved in making friendships. She also has sensory processing disorder which means the world comes rushing in with disorientating noises, information, sights, sounds and smells and means she often feels overwhelmed in new situations or meeting new people.
My daughter is 13. When demands are put upon her which she may not understand or when instructions she cannot follow are given, when she is feeling overloaded sensory wise, she will stare
out the window, jump up and down and make what is to others
nonsensical repetitive noises but which to her make sense or provide
Like many other children with Autism my child doesn't respond to the
usual request 'go play with your friends' she has needed to be taught
how to play with toys appropriately; learning to share, how to join in,
how to communicate and how to socialise. The vast majority of children
with Autism have to be taught these skills whether they communicate
through spoken word, signing or in clear sentences that require social
So why a Saturday club? We are continually being told that our children with Autism are unique and if you meet one child with autism you meet one child with autism. So it makes sense that they would need individual targets and goals set by
experienced professionals. This is why I chose Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) as an individualised child-centred teaching approach for my child and why I agreed to help establish and chair another Focus Saturday Club using the principles of ABA.
My daughter joined Focus South London Saturday club based in Waterloo in October 2015 so she could get meaningful tutoring on play skills such as turn taking, learn fun alternatives to stimming, sharing and how to join in. It was a place she could meet and socialise with more children than those she meets in school. Like many girls with ASD my daughter is in the minority and for most of her school life she has been the only girl in an all-boys classroom. The Focus club is a place where she can practice these important play skills on different children to those she meets at school.
I have always wanted to find a place where my daughter could be herself, practice her communication skills, find fun alternatives to repetitive behaviours, and meet other children in an accepting environment. The other positive effect was that I was able to meet other like-minded parents with similar concerns and we were all able to share experiences and provide advice or support.
Unfortunately having professional oversight and one on one tutoring does cost money and our aim was to make it as affordable to as many people as possible which is why we need to fund raise to subsidise the costs and pay for vital equipment, staff and operating costs.
So if any of your potential donors ask why fundraise for a Saturday club for children with Autism in Surrey, please feel free to relay my story.
Connect with us...
Saturday ABA Club
Bringing ABA to children in Surrey
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Focus Surrey is a registered charity. Charity Number 1178378.