Chief Executive: Emer O'Neill
Emer O'Neill is Depression Alliance's Chief Executive. She has over twenty years' experience of working in mental wellbeing services.
After qualifying as a social worker in 1990, she spent many years working with homeless people with mental health problems. She developed a strong interest in employment issues and mental health and set up and developed 'Resource for mental health' an award winning project in Berkshire for 7 years. Before starting with Depression Alliance she was managing mental health services in Bracknell, Berkshire and was employed by the Berkshire Health Care Trust.
She is a passionate about developing services that promote recovery for people who experience mental health issues. Her career has spanned years of working in the voluntary sector, and the statutory health and social services.
Finance Coordinator: Michael Beaven
Michael Beaven does not conform to the stereotype of the boring finance manager. OK, he's lived in Berkshire for all but a brief spell at university. OK, he's always been a number cruncher, but as a voluntary sector activist since the Eighties and his work has taken him on visits from Albania to the Yemen. From 2000, he worked as Finance Director of a local mental health charity. Lately he‘s been part-time at Depression Alliance since 2007, while working with the local authority in Windsor and Maidenhead. He's also found time to co-found and run Our Community Enterprise, which helps charities like Depression Alliance with strategy and fundraising.
Operational Manager: Mick Carroll
DA was delighted to welcome Mick on to the team in January 2013. He is committed to using his almost 30 years of experience in the charitable sector to support DA in its development into a much larger organisation through the implementation of Friends in Need and will lead on the income generating strategy for the organisation. Mick has personal expression of depression and is passionate about improving support services; He worked for many years at St. Mungo’s Housing Association in senior management roles, developing services for young people with mental health issues. Following this he went on to set up his own Coaching and Business Consultancy. Mick has a keen interest in photography and martial arts and has an excellent sense of humour.
Friends in Need Manager: Lesley Pinder
Lesley is an enthusiast for social media and fundraising. Before joining Depression Alliance, she worked for Missing People, where she used social media to drive fundraising and to raise awareness of missing people. Since joining Depression Alliance, she has helped secure major funding for Friends in Need, and has undertaken a steep learning curve in order to manage the web build, from scratch, of the community for people with depression.
In exile from her native Scotland, Lesley has taken to cycling. She's a Trustee of Herne Hill Velodrome, has started her own team, and has cycled stages of the Tour de France for fun. She has also managed to break both collarbones, suggesting she may be something of a risk taker.
Digital Manager: Erin Keohan
Erin is the Digital Manager for Friends in Need and the Depression Alliance. Her digital experience stems from a degree in Multimedia Technology and Design at Brunel University. Since then she has managed digital projects for a wide range of companies; this is her first position within the charity sector. Erin has always had a strong interest in mental health due to experiences in her own family.
She is passionate about anything digital, social media and web related and has also worked as a freelance photographer.
Membership Services Co-ordinator: Laura Sacha (Currently on maternity leave)
Laura joined Depression Alliance in 2009 after having worked and volunteered with a number of charities includssing SANE, The British Heart Foundation and Refugee Action. As well as coordinating the membership package she also oversees and supports the network of self help groups and edits the DA magazine. Before moving in to the charity sector Laura worked in publishing for a number of years and is pleased to be using her editorial experience in an area she feels so passionately about. Laura has a background in Social Anthropology and is particularly interested in issues surrounding black and minority ethnic communities within mental health systems.
Volunteer: Julia Cosby
Julia is part of the fixtures and fittings at DA, having been here since 1994 first as a member, then as its first paid member of staff and since 2005 as a volunteer, and Head Office couldn't run without her.
She keeps the membership database up to date, answers members' questions, oversees our online service DA Talk, deals with general correspondence, sends out leaflets and posters, waters the plants and keeps the place ship-shape, all within two days a week.
From personal experience she believes that understanding and compassion from others together with the self-knowledge that develops with age and awareness of your triggers are the ingredients for recovery from depression.
In her spare time Julia is an all-rounder, with interests as varied as kayaking, knitting, embroidery, playing the piano, walking and yoga; her favourite food is beans on toast (though they must be Heinz beans!) and her dark secret is that she once went to a Star Trek Convention.
Volunteer: David Mark
One of the key things that small charities need is someone to keep the wheels turning during the chaotic times. Information packs need to go out on time – remember we specialise in information not advice and one of our strategic objectives is to provide high quality information. David .... comes into the office once a week to run that system. With a background in computer programming, quality assurance and auditing for an oil giant and a shipping company David's able to ensure that we get it right every time.
Currently a volunteer, David has worked for Depression Alliance on and off since 1996 and says that helping our members has helped him manage his own depression. Logic appeals to David outside work as well - a keen member of the Rambler's Association, he's also a steam railways enthusiast.
Croydon Employment and Wellbeing Co-ordinator: Jackie Smith
Jackie moved to the U.K eight years ago from sunny Kentucky, U.S.A, and what started as a two year stay to complete her Masters Degree, has ended up as home.
Jackie has held a number of rewarding roles working with vulnerable and isolated London based communities in a training and employment related capacity. She particularly enjoys supporting people to reach their potential. Jackie now co-ordinates the Employment and Wellbeing project in Croydon, whilst also training to become a counsellor so it would be fair to say that time management is one of her strengths! She has found a natural home at Depression Alliance because of her own personal journey through depression which she has learnt to manage and understand.
In her free time Jackie likes nothing better than taking to the countryside with her lovely dog, Einstein as well as relaxing at home with a good book. She has recently discovered Mindfulness which provides an oasis of calm amidst the hurley burly of London life and especially enjoys eating out with spicy vegetarian food and Turkish and Nepalese being favourite cuisines.
Her positive approach to life can be encapsulated in her motto for life "Stop tending to the weeds in your life and start watering the flowers." With that in mind, the project that she co-ordinates in Croydon is in full bloom!