Meet our staff

Our small, tight-knit team brings together a group of dedicated staff and volunteers who are passionate about helping mums and giving their babies the best start in life.

“As a small independent voluntary sector organisation with a big vision, MumsAid is making a huge difference in the field of Early Intervention in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.” Mirela Siminiceanu, Brookhill Children’s Centre Lead & Senior Family Support Worker

Staff and counselling team

Miriam Donaghy – Miriam set up one of the first postnatal depression therapy groups in the UK and created a groundbreaking framework for therapeutic approaches to postnatal depression, challenging existing models of viewing it as only a medical condition. Instead she highlighted the existential crisis that many new mothers experience and the need for an individualised approach to help them recover. Her academic endeavours, combined with her work with mothers directly, led to her designing a programme of support for the postnatal period. That programme laid the foundations of a model that is still in use today.

Over the years, Miriam has worked with the leading experts and therapists in the fields of couples therapy, maternal mental health and postnatal depression as well as working directly with hundreds of new mothers, and overseeing the support of hundreds more. She is currently completing a doctorate in psychotherapy

Anila Destani – Finance Officer. Anila has a BA (Hons) in Maths from Tirana University and is qualified in accountancy and business administration.  She worked as a maths teacher in Albania before coming to London in 2000 and first began supporting MumsAid as an admin volunteer at the end of 2013.  Anila is our financial administrator and also oversees our monitoring and evaluation processes. A mother to two teenagers, Anila works part-time and is also a private maths tutor.

Jessica Svejdar – Service Coordinator. Jessica has a BA (hons) from University College Dublin and many years’ experience of working in the private sector, before relocating to London with her family in 2011. Jessica joined MumsAid in early 2015 and as the service co-ordinator, is the first point of contact for our clients and integral to the smooth running of the organisation. She is a trained Mental Health First-Aider and regularly represents MumsAid at community and nationwide events. Before joining MumsAid Jessica was a committed volunteer at the Bridge Community Centre and at her daughters’ school.

Ann Marshall- Young Mums- Aid Manager.
Ann trained as a Nursery Nurse in 1980. Working for 40 years with young children and their families in a variety of Early Years and Educational settings she has supported children and families living with domestic abuse, homelessness, and substance misuse .
Ann became involved with Mums-Aid as a partner organisation when managing a group of Children’s Centres within the Royal Borough of Greenwich. As the manager of Young MumsAid, Ann is using her passion to ensure that all women and children have access to the very best support available to them.

Kelly Jordan – Young MumsAid Advocacy Worker. Kelly has worked supporting families in Children Centre’s in the Royal Borough of Greenwich for more than 15 years. Her background is in Early Years, and she has lived experience of being a young mother, so really understands the difference getting the right support can make. Kelly is passionate about the work we do with Mothers and their babies, and the need for a safe nurturing environment where Mother and baby can be supported, grow and thrive.

Jayne Penston – Administration Assistant. Jayne has a BA(hons) from Guildford School of Acting and after a short career in the theatre she moved on to have a variety of roles in merchandising, event management and marketing. Jayne worked with Marks and Spencer for 15 years before taking time out to raise her family. She was chair of the school PTFA and now sits as vice chair on the board of governors at her son’s school. Jayne joined MumsAid in February 2020 and also volunteers at Charlton Park Riding for the Disabled Association.

Helen Elane Heffernan MBACP – Psychotherapist (YoungMumsAid). Elane trained as an integrative therapist and previously worked for six years as a counsellor in further education with a diverse group of clients, including many young mothers. Prior to her training Elane worked with refugees, migrants and homeless young people.  Elane began working with MumsAid as a volunteer and is now employed as a senior therapist in the YoungMumsAid service. She has experience in working with issues of depression and anxiety, survivors of abuse and relational trauma, displacement and relationship problems.

Harsha Rai – Clinical Supervisor She is a BACP accredited therapist with vast experience of working in both voluntary sector and in her private practice. After working in Home Start with mothers as a junior co-ordinator she moved on to work with EACH counselling and support services for substance misuse, domestic violence and mental health problems. She worked there for 25 years as a senior therapist and clinical lead. She has particular experience of working with addictions and women experiencing abuse. She is currently also working with WDP as a volunteer counsellor supporting clients with substance misuse related issues.

Juliana Moro – Psychotherapist. Juliana initially trained as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist and has worked in the NHS where she began to have an interest in supporting women experiencing perinatal mental health and emotional difficulties. She also has experience in working with people with a wide range of difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders. She focuses on the individuals unique experiences and needs to help them make sense of their current and past experiences. Juliana is completing her Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and Integrative Psychotherapy at Metanoia.

Ali Graves – Psychotherapist Ali is an Integrative Psychotherapist and Arts Therapist (UKCP, HCPC) with a great deal of experience working with pregnant women and mums with babies.  She provides one-to-one therapy for mums and pregnant women and also facilitate maternal wellbeing groups face-to-face and in most recent times online.  The maternal experience can be tough going and Ali enjoys supporting mums and pregnant women to address current issues and find wellbeing and fulfilment as a mother and as a woman.

Tanaz Assefi – Art Group Facilitator Tanaz is a London based artist that was born and raised in Iran. She studied Graphic Design in Tehran and moved to London to study for a Masters Degree in Illustration and Animation. She has been living and working in London for the past twenty one years, working as a freelance artist, participating in various exhibitions and leading art as therapy workshops as well as working with a PR company. She is highly passionate about mental health and particularly Post Natal Depression. Tanaz runs The Art of Self Expression Group as a form of art as therapy. Every week mothers join Tanaz to explore their thought process and emotional life through mark making, drawing and use of colour.