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.

Lesley Bourne – Business Development Manager. After graduating with a degree in Librarianship and Art History, Lesley has worked in a variety of roles in advertising, finance, research and the voluntary sector, all dealing with research and the management of information. At YouthNet, she helped develop do-it.org.uk, a national web based volunteering database and also worked as Partnerships Director, gaining experience of strategic and business planning, project management, fundraising and developing and delivering joint projects in partnership with other organisations. She also volunteers for her local community run Leisure Centre, helping them with fundraising.

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.

Caroline Sutcliffe – Senior Psychotherapist  (Young MumsAid)- Caroline is a UKCP registered psychotherapist with an Msc in Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy. After working as a teacher with young people excluded from mainstream schools she moved on to work with people with substance misuse problems working on the frontline in both voluntary sector and NHS services for more than 10 years. Caroline has particular experience of working with complex depression personality disorder and self harm and is currently training in Transference Focussed Psychotherapy at The Maudsley.

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.