Shirena Counter (MSc)
Shirena has a clinical background as a registered dietitian but currently works as a project manager in the Service Transformation team at the Royal Free Hospital, improving quality of care and reducing costs by supporting services through radical change. Previously, she was Head of Dietetics and then Therapy Clinical Operations Manager overseeing 80 staff across all the therapy professions.
Her first involvement with Signpost was as Chairman of Watford Borough Council, where she was an elected member. “I was so impressed with Signpost’s Annual Review for 2011/12 and so delighted that the town should have such a fantastic service that I chose Signpost as one of my two nominated charities.” When her year as Chairman ended, she joined Signpost as a trustee in 2013.
Shirena is a passionate advocate for the benefits of counselling, particularly for young people. “I believe that Signpost is an excellent organisation which plays a vital role in providing support at a particularly challenging age for many young people. Timely intervention at adolescence can have a major positive impact for the rest of young people’s lives.”
She is also Trustee of the Ashfield Educational Fund (Bushey), which provides small grants for disadvantaged pupils to support the wider aspects of their education.
Aurelie Coze (BA Hons)
Aurelie started her journey with Signpost as a client. As one of the founders of Signpost’s client-user group, she won Watford Borough Council’s Audentior Award for young people. She helped set up and run Signpost’s Job club that ran from 2012-2014. She was one of the first young people to volunteer for Signpost and was co-opted as a young person’s representative on Signpost’s board in 2012.
She has an emerging career in the NHS, initially in Acute Services and Primary Care and now as Safeguarding Children Administrator for Harrow Community Services. Aurelie’s experience at Signpost was so transformative it has led her to train as a counsellor herself and she is working towards her Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling at West Herts College. In summer 2017 she was selected to join Signpost as a trainee counsellor and hopes to be the first client to become a therapist at Signpost.
Aurelie has been a Trustee since 2013 and particularly focuses on making sure young people’s views are considered. “My counselling at Signpost was life-changing, so I want everyone to have what I enjoyed. More than that, the volunteering, job club and social group were so important to helping me get on at a critical age, I am committed to Signpost maintaining this broader and more creative range of support”
David Seddon (BA Hons; FCA; MSc)
David is a chartered accountant with over 27 years’ experience supporting the world of business at a number of firms, including Ernst & Young. He is currently a partner at Haines Watts, the award-winning accountancy firm in Aylesbury. He has ten years’ experience of using his skills in the voluntary sector, both as a charity treasurer and as an auditor of charities who are clients.
A long-standing resident of Hemel Hempstead, he originally came into contact with the therapeutic world when his son had counselling at Urban Access. He soon became their treasurer and was instrumental in seeing through a smooth transfer when Urban Access merged with Signpost. He has since then been Signpost’s treasurer for three years. “My commitment at Signpost is to ensure it is here to help future generations in the way it helped my son.”
Sheila Barton (Cert Ed)
Having studied psychology, sociology, education & science, Sheila worked for thirty five years as a teacher in Hertfordshire secondary schools. At her final full-time post, The Cavendish School in Hemel Hempstead, she was instrumental in broadening the School’s curriculum offer in vocational subjects, including setting up GCSE programmes in Home Economics, Design & Technology and Health & Social Care.
As a team leader and a 6th form tutor, she was closely involved in the delivery of pastoral care and supporting young people to continue engaging in education in spite of difficulties both within and outside of their control. “Young people seem to be facing more and more difficulties these days. Youngsters are increasingly from fragmented families or coping with their parents’ mental health difficulties. Then there is the growth I witnessed in stress, anxiety and depression among young people.”
Not wanting to lose her contact with young people when she retired in 2012, she became a Trustee with Urban Access and then Signpost in 2014. Sheila finds helping with fundraising & promoting Signpost in schools particularly rewarding. “I am a big supporter of Signpost’s social groups. It is great to offer something after counselling, which help youngsters with self-esteem & friendship and on-going support as their journey to adulthood.”
Angela Thurstan (BA Hons; Dip Couns)
With a degree in Sociology and a Diploma in Counselling, Angela worked as an Accredited Counsellor from 1993 until retiring in 2013. As well as working in a GP practice, she was a Counsellor Lead in a Primary Care Trust in Bedfordshire and helped to set up the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme there.
Angela has many years’ experience of working in the charity sector, setting up and managing a wide range of projects, including a childminding project for priority families, a counselling and advice service for a branch of Mind, and a project for unemployed people. This work involved management, supervisory and administrative experience in small organisations. Angela is also a Trustee of a child contact centre and has a certificate in teaching adult education.
Angela became a Trustee in 2016 because she was “impressed by the size and breadth of Signpost’s work and the flexible, innovative nature of the organisation”. She is keen to make a much-needed contribution to the mental health of many local young people and is particularly interested in strengthening Signpost’s clinical and project management practice.
Jennifer Rees (BSc Hons; Ad Dip PsyC; SAC Dip CBT; MNCS Accred)
Jennifer is a Forensics Lecturer at West Herts College and the Programme Manager of the Extended Degree in Science (Pathways allied to Medicine and Biological Sciences) for the University of Hertfordshire’s Consortium. Following her degree in Psychology at Sussex University, she completed her professional Postgraduate studies in Psychotherapy. She then taught Police recruits on the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing (CKP) course.
In 2015, she was one of 50 Healthcare Professionals selected to write Whitepaper recommendations for the NHS as part of the Youth Health Parliament. She was appointed Vice Chair of the mental health subcommittee, the Mental Wealth Initiative, and she presented the paper in the Houses of Parliament in December 2016.
It was in this role, as well as her involvement with a project helping young people escape cults, that she was speaker at Signpost’s annual dinner in 2016. She liked us so much, she then became a Trustee! “Signpost is a fabulous organisation and I am passionate about helping Signpost develop ever-more effective, user-led interventions.” Jennifer leads on young people’s input into decision-making at Signpost.
Julie Everitt (Cert Couns; P.G.Dip Couns; MA Couns; MBACP (Reg Accred) et al)
Julie brings experience in Adult Mental Health stretching back to the 1980s, including in the NHS in a psychiatric hospital and in primary care. Building on her training as a psycho-dynamic counsellor, she has also undertaken training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Person-centred counselling, attachment theory and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
Julie has experience in the voluntary sector as Head of Counselling at the Chiltern Counselling Centre in Chesham. Since 1990 she has been a private practitioner at the Old Town Counselling and Psychotherapy Service in Hemel Hempstead, providing counselling to adults, young adults and counselling trainees. Julie is registered with BACP, is qualified to provide adoption counselling and is a registered Attachment Focused Therapist with Barnardos.
Julie joined Signpost’s Trustees in 2017. She explains: “After referring young people to Urban Access and then Signpost over many years, I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the client-focused care, powerful commitment and excellent service that Signpost is renowned for in the sector.”