Dr Jadwiga Leigh (Director and Programme Lead)
Jadwiga is currently a senior lecturer on the Social Work programme at Lancaster University. She became passionate about giving parents the opportunity to turn their lives around when she was a social worker. She noticed that as a practitioner she expected parents to meet outcomes that satisfied plans which did not take into consideration parents own life experiences and understanding. The plans she created were not necessarily designed to give parents the support they needed because the intensive support they required was simply not available. In 2013, Jadwiga completed her doctoral research which compared the Flemish way of social work practice with her own. It was during this research that she stumbled across ‘Stobbe’- a residential unit which supported parents in an innovative and creative way. It was this experience which inspired her to return to England and develop a similar project but this time within the community.
Matthew Purves (New Beginnings Coordinator)
After qualifying as a social worker Matthew was employed as a family support worker in an early help and prevention team based in a Stockport SureStart children’s centre. In 2015 he moved into statutory children and families social work, working alongside families in need, children subject to child protection and children who are looked after. Matthew also spent some time working in Agile product management developing social work-related digital resources. More recently, Matthew was involved in a Stockport Family pilot funded by the What Works Centre embedding social workers in schools which underscored his passion for relationship-based practice and psychosocial interventions. Over the period of his career, Matthew has further developed interests in parent advocacy, social justice and poverty awareness and hopes to bring these to his work with New Beginnings families.
Kath Eyles (New Beginnings Facilitator)
Kath is a New Beginnings facilitator. Her 25-year career background has involved working with families in the Manchester and Stockport areas. Kath started her career as a nursery nurse in inner city Manchester and became passionate about understanding the challenges parents face, particularly ethnic minorities and integration. This led to Kath starting a parent support group with creche facility that helped parents form a network to combat isolation and reduce their vulnerability. Kath’s experience in providing support to parents with children ranges from unborn to 25.
Kath has also worked as a Parent Engagement Worker and more recently as parent lead on the Leaving Care Team at Stockport Family. Kath is also Reiki Practitioner.
Di Clarke (New Beginnings Facilitator).
Di Clarke is a New Beginnings facilitator. Her background is Mental Health and General Nursing, Post Grad Dip in IAPT CBT (Parenting) and an accredited Incredible Years Group Leader and DDP Level 1 therapist. Di is also a Level 1 swimming teacher. Di is committed in supporting parents whose children display challenging behaviours and struggle with their emotional wellbeing. Di has worked in various settings in her 28 years in Stockport i.e School Nurse, Mental Health Practitioner for the Youth Offending Service and Parenting Nurse Specialist.
Georgia Atkins (Peer Mentor)
I joined New Beginnings last year and have worked hard to become a peer mentor. I love it. I understand what it is like to have social workers involved in your family life. I have learned from this experience and like to share my insights with the team and the parents. I enjoy "being there" for the parents. I have good intuition and like to give practical advice. I have a good sense of humour and think that helps me in my role.
Mellisa Hempenstall (Peer Mentor)
I currently work as a peer support for New Beginnings. I help facilitate and run the sessions. I also do 1:1 work. I have been matched to parents because of my relevant experience of the child protection system. I work very closely with the team and the board in order to tailor my support individually to the parents I work with. My role is to help parents make the changes they want to make and support them to do this. I have walked a similar journey and come out the other side. I take my role seriously and want to make a difference to the lives of those I work with.
Natalie Jones (Peer Mentor)
Before anything I am a mum to two beautiful kids. I love family time and having good energy around me. I love my peer mentor job- I love meeting new people and learning their stories and finding out how strong they are. They never cease to amaze me and I do whatever I can to support them achieve what they want to achieve.
Michelle Castle (Counsellor)
Michelle is a qualified psychotherapist with experience working with children and adults. She has a pluralistic and creative approach whilst remaining true to her Person Centred roots, creating a warm, open and nurturing environment and supporting her clients however they choose to express their feelings and emotions. All of her work is client led, both in pace and content. She strives to work collaboratively with her clients and build a strong therapeutic relationship and to provide bespoke therapy experience.
Zari Love (Energy Healer)
Zari is a holistic therapist, bodyworker and energy healer. She has been working in the wellness industry for over 12 years and works across the globe with a variety of modalities such as breathwork, energy healing, trauma release practices, meditation, hypnotherapy, EFT and spirituality. She is also working with women in sexual healing and empowerment processes. Her work is invitation to release and heal the past, reconnect back to the body, and open to more forgiveness and self love: For more information see:
Alison Taylor (Holistic Therapist)
Alison offers a wide range of treatments including Reflexology (AOR), Aromatherapy, Remedial & Sports massage, Reiki and many more. She qualified in 2000 and has continued with her professional development since, including going to Thailand to learn Thai foot massage. Complimentary Therapies are invaluable for targeting stress and improving health. Treatments may be used individually or combined for maximum benefit. A bespoke approach is taken to help improve your overall wellbeing. This usually includes a special blend of essential oils tailored to suit your needs.
Rod Kippen (Artist)
Rod has worked with vulnerable children, young people and adults throughout his 20 year career, working in various settings from Residential Work, Youth Offending Services, (Appropriate Adult, one to one Intensive Support) and in his recent role as Children’s Rights Advocate and programme lead at RECLAIM. He is dedicated to ensuring people are listened to, understood and that their views are taken seriously. He believes in working creatively with people to help them express themselves and their experiences. He uses creative methods to help them express their feelings and create meaning from their experiences. He believes all services in place for people should be built around the individual human experience and not be process led. He is a practising exhibited artist and undertakes community arts work with a range of service users. He uses photography, narrative and journal methods in my community arts work. He has skills in photography, sculpture, painting, journaling, filming and editing.