About Meet the team Meet the team Leslie Billy, Chief Executive I have over 30 years’ experience of working in the Health & Social care sector working with vulnerable people experiencing Mental health and/or drug and addiction challenges and I have 27 years’ experience within the Third sector in Hertfordshire. I started working with Viewpoint in November 2009 as the Operational manager until I was promoted to the position of Chief Executive in 2012. I have also been a Trustee / volunteer for a number of organisations in Hertfordshire. Jamie-Ellen Byrne, Administrator I started working for Viewpoint in December 2019 and I am employed as the administrator for the organisation. My role also includes communications and marketing. Working for Viewpoint really appealed to me as I have always wanted to work for a charity. Working for a charity is very fulfilling and I really enjoy broadening my knowledge around mental health including attending courses. Christiana Ashare, Project Worker I joined the Viewpoint team in 2005 after a period with the NHS and in Legal Advice. I am very passionate in achieving equality in the delivery of services to all mental health, drug and alcohol service users especially those who are marginalised. Since joining Viewpoint, I have been involved in the Delivery of Race Equality initiative nationally and represented the organisation with the local NHS Trust in the Equality Delivery System and the CPS in Hate Crime Scrutiny. I am keen to develop work with service users in the Criminal Justice System and raise mental health awareness within the Judiciary. I am a people’s person and meeting with service users at forums is key to my work at Viewpoint. Kat Clark I've been involved with Viewpoint for over 10 years through my work in mental health and joined up formally as a member about 5 years ago. I've had a lived experience of mental health issues going back to childhood and I'm involved in writing and delivering the new Peer Pathway training. I've also talked about my experiences to trainee mental health nurses and taken on various admin tasks (such as taking minutes for the Trustees Meetings). I am currently working on the Tea and Chat project and have been a member of the Viewpoint User Voice council since it began a year ago. The council has been meeting about 2 monthly and has been involved in updating the organisations vision and mission, updating paperwork to be more user friendly and inputting into the development of projects such as the new tea and chat project. Andrew Smith I joined Viewpoint in 2005 after I had a bad experience with Mental Health services. In 1989 when I first encountered Mental health services my experience had been very positive. Cuts & chronic under-funding which continues to this day had been one of the reasons for my contrasting experiences, the other was the staffs corroding pessimism & indifference towards me. As a professional advocate & former board member of Powher I had fought to improve services & since joining Viewpoint I have continued to take on this vital task. Today I mainly act as a trainer for Viewpoint working co-productively with my peers, students & professionals to bring about improvements in services whilst dealing with a hostile toxic political atmosphere. When not working I relax by reading, fishing, writing poetry & facilitating the project poetry as healing. One of my particular passions has also been spirituality & the development of spirituality in healthcare. I am a founder member of the group (W)Hole in the soul. Stephen Crow Stephen has been involved with Viewpoint for nearly 10 years, since attending a confidence & assertiveness course in March 2011. Viewpoint's refreshing approach in involving their member's in everything they do and looking past their diagnosis has spurred him on to co-facilitating training, updating the website and taking part in involvement opportunities further afield, including a stint as the Chair of HPFT's Service User Council. Loves music, film, vidya gaming and caramel Lattes. Our Trustees Ray Gibbins Ray was born in London and moved to Essex when he was 11. He attended Ilford County High school and then London College of Graphic Arts. After college Ray Became a packaging designer. He started his own business called 'Presswork' and later bought 'The Precision Photographic Co. Ltd' and luckily retired early. His Daughter was a clinical pyschologist and talked him into doing volunteering work in mental health and learning difficulties. When HPFT started, he was voted in as a Public Governor, where he met Dennis, who started Viewpoint. He asked me to join the Trustee Board and advise on design and printing. He is now the Chair of Trustees. Ashley Risk I have about 25 years experience of working in the housing industry mainly working as a residential social landlord for HMO houses of multiple occupancy, this work entailed me being involved with health and safety, fire safety supervision, accounts and Performance Management. Use of KPI's key performance indicators against the set contract criteria of our comissioners to make sure that contracts that we were delivering and performed to a quality and consistency required by our commissioners was a key task i used to conduct. As well as being a trustee for Viewpoint I am a videographer I write produce, direct and edit films. I get involved in community projects, commercial projects and art house projects for individuals who want to make a film just for their own use. My biography can be found on the Internet Movie Database https://m.imdb.com/name/nm4566446/ I am currently on long-term disability but I try to keep myself involved in projects on the voluntary basis where I can. In leisure I have been involved with Hertfordshire Young Mariners base for the last 30 years it's been a little difficult to be involved with the base during the lockdown period but my passion for outdoor sports has never diminished although I am currently disabled I still try to participate where I can. I am a keen movie buff and enjoy science fiction and anything currently to do with Mars and the exploration of space it goes without saying I'm a huge Star Trek van and all I can say is live long and prosper. Meredith Griffiths As an ex- director of nursing, recently working in both public and private sectors of healthcare, as well as lately being a director of a healthcare communications company, I have a broad view of some of the challenging issues affecting our community. Living and working in Hertfordshire with a family who have had our own mental health problems and taking up the role of public governor over two terms for Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, I would hope that these experiences will help me to be able to help make a difference in my role as Trustee for Viewpoint. I am extremely pleased to have joined such an enthusiastic and innovative group working hard to make a difference. Our Volunteers Amanda Worthington I began my Mental Health Recovery and Wellbeing Journey with Viewpoint in 2018. I ceased my businesses here and abroad as the need to stop and focus on my self-care became a necessity. In addition to volunteering for other mental health charities, I am involved in supporting the team and members at Viewpoint in a number of voluntary roles, and share my story as an expert by experience. I hope that actively engaging in sharing my experiences and positive outcomes makes a difference by inspiring and motivating others through being part of the Viewpoint team and community. Joining Viewpoint as a volunteer allows me to develop new skills and build on existing experiences to support the ongoing recovery of mental health and wellbeing in others, and myself - a symbiotic relationship. Being involved with the mental health sector offers me a sense of belonging, and a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment in which to share, learn, and expand awareness. In acknowledging, accepting, and allowing my mental health ups and downs to ‘just be’, I have gained an outlook with hope and opportunity, and the freedom to choose a more positive journey moving forward. Joining the Viewpoint team and other members feels like coming home . . . Karen Hannan I began volunteering with Viewpoint in 2020, following the irritant that is COVID, which was impacting me, family members and friends. This meant I had to leave my job, to support those I care for. Initially, I was calling Viewpoint members to check in with them and feedback to Viewpoint specific support needs, and this role then led on to other opportunities. The path to the work I do now with Viewpoint, and other charities, related to addiction, mental health and neurodiverse conditions such as Autism and ADHD, originated in childhood and has continued since. You might say I have been training for decades - although my abilities and interest in supporting others really only became apparent to me in the last few years, despite me, in reality, practicing daily throughout my life! As well as my caring roles related to mental health, addiction and neurodiversity, through the years, I live with secondary mental health needs because of a late diagnosis of Autism myself. Volunteering with Viewpoint, has been a fundamental strand of recovery for me as it is a safe space in so many ways, and is as supportive or healthily challenging as my recovery needs it to be. Those members I have met through my roles have broadened my understanding and they, what they share and the ways they move forward to recovery have been inspiring and humbling. Those I have had the privilege to engage with through my various roles, I hope benefit from my ability to empathise, listen without judgement, and offer support that is encouraging, empowering and hopeful. I would encourage anyone to consider volunteering and supporting the valuable work that Viewpoint is doing to create opportunities for those living with challenges related to mental health and addiction, whether directly or in a caring role. Viewpoint aims to help this community to expand their horizons, and understand the positive choices and connections they can make to create outcomes that create a healthy and self-nurturing way forward. As a charity Viewpoint and those who work within it do this by being present with individuals through their journey, creating space to grow, and maintaining a reliable, hopeful and nurturing environment. In essense, the charity offers a place of sanctuary and welcome, away from the chaos and noise that can feel so difficult to face alone. Bottom line, Viewpoint is a safe harbour in the storms that anyone may find themselves stranded in. Kumiko Yokouchi Kumiko has been working in the charity sector for over 18 years in Welwyn Hatfield. Her work has been mainly community inclusion and she is a trained commuity mentor and a be friender. In Kumiko's role at View Point is various from the admin & telephone volunteer to facilitating the online peer support for the beneficiaries. Also, she has involved in the other charity organisations such as Stevenage World Forum to organises the annual event 'Celebrate!' which local talents attend to perform, and Peartree Wellbeing Project, a voluntary organisation work with public sector, university, local organisations and clubs to help the community's physical and mental wellbeing.