The team

Darren Connew
Head of Service

Darren joined in July 2021 as the new Head of Service. Darren is a professionally qualified Youth Worker and spent many years working directly with individuals and leading teams in Employability based work, with a focus on those who faced barriers into gaining employment or training. He has a wealth of experience of developing new business opportunities and working closely in partnership with others.

Sue Witty
Lead Employment Specialist / Deputy Service Manager, South and West Essex

Sue has been in post since 2008. Sue’s background is predominantly in Recruitment, Sales and Retail. Sue began her career in London working in; retail, high street recruitment agencies and recruitment advertising. Sue leads her West and South teams, and is responsible for managing demand and their caseloads, practice and professional development and developing relationships with employers and partners.

Patrick Sullivan
Lead Employment Retention Specialist, West Essex

Patrick helps users in Epping. He provides 1-1 support to users, helping them with their confidence in order for them to reach their employment goals. He also facilitates support with employers who have employees with mental ill health. Patrick likes classic cars, snorkelling and vegetable growing!

Sharif Sharif
Team Leader, West Suffolk

Sharif has always been passionate about helping others to improve their lives especially those from vulnerable or deprived communities.  After graduating with a law degree in 1992 he transferred his skills into Further Education where he worked for 16 years in a large college in Norwich across a range of roles from operational to senior leadership level covering student support, careers guidance, apprenticeships, long term unemployed training and business services.  Since 2010 Sharif has been devoted to his real passion which is helping people to change their lives through employment and has worked in both the private and community sector managing programmes funded by DWP and NHS England.  He is very proud to be working alongside Employ-Ability to help transform the lives of people in Suffolk.

Dave Cooper
Project Coordinator, Heads Up Project

Dave joined Employ-Ability as a Peer Support Worker in 2018. He now leads the HeadsUp team covering West and South Essex and is responsible for handling demand, supporting the Peer Support Workers and managing their caseloads. He is passionate about helping people improve their wellbeing, manage their mental health and achieve their goals.

David Walkerley
Senior Employment Retention Specialist, South Essex

David helps those with mental ill health to find paid work or voluntary work. His work also involves providing job retention services, working with clinicians and approaching employers to employ Employ-Ability’s users.

Daniel Abbott
Senior Employment Specialist, West Essex

Daniel supports adults with mental ill health back into employment and along their individual journeys. He works with his clients to build their confidence and settle them into the job role of their choice. He liaises with local employers to build good relationships for networking and finding placements for his clients. Daniel really enjoys seeing his clients grow with confidence and excelling once in employment. Daniel likes to be social, going to the theatre, singing and spending time with his two year old son.

Steve Race
Senior Employment Specialist, Bury St Edmunds

Most of Steve’s working life has been spent in areas that involved helping others in one way or another and making sure individuals are not written off by society, and that people are empowered to make the best use of opportunities that come their way. He knows that some great work has been, and is being, done by Employ-Ability and looks forward to being a part of that success.

Amy Jacobs
Employment Specialist, Harlow

Amy joined the Employ-Ability team as an Employment Specialist in August 2020 and represents the West Essex team in Uttlesford. Her role is to work alongside the community mental health team to aid people’s recovery through work opportunities. Amy has over 10 years’ experience managing stakeholder relationships. She is passionate about supporting people living with mental ill health to realise their potential in employment.

Amy is also studying to be a Counsellor in her spare time. When she is not working, Amy is usually reading a book or spending time with her little boy and husband.  She is a long suffering Spurs fan.

Emma Pope
Employment Specialist, Harlow

Emma provides support to clients in the area of Harlow to build their confidence and to support them with their employment goals and explores different ways to build and maintain their resilience. Emma helps people who are experiencing mental ill health to find new employment/training or to retain their current employment.
Her past career involved working for a housing provider and a local charity, supporting vulnerable adults with, housing issues, domestic violence and most recently employment issues. She is committed in seeing others feel empowered by their own efforts.
Emma enjoys yoga and is also a keen gardener.

Melissa Khoshaba
Employment Specialist, Harlow

I joined Employ-Ability in November 2021 and have come from a background of Travel and Hospitality. My role in Employ-Ability is supporting individuals with mental ill health in finding suitable employment, maintaining employment and to build confidence within themselves. I also enjoy being out in the community meeting employers and clients.

Nicky Hudson
Employment Specialist, Harlow

I joined Employ-Ability in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, as we entered the 2nd lockdown. I am really enjoying getting out and about in the community, meeting clients and employers in equal measure. I love to be able to help individuals get back to work in gainful employment and ensure that they stay in work long term. I also particularly enjoying working with local employers, providing an ancillary service, which dovetails perfectly with their current recruitment processes and helps them find talented people for their business completely free of charge. My experience lies in internal recruitment as a former Sales Director recruiting for sales, marketing, editorial, customer service and support roles.

Louise Pitman
Employment Specialist, Loughton

My background is in domestic abuse and sexual violence, where I also worked with multiple disadvantages, mental health, on-going diagnosis, disabilities and vulnerabilities within individuals and families. I really like what Employ-Ability stand for and the IPS model we adhere to. I enjoy the idea of helping people to get into a routine and back into paid work, to empower themselves and become more confident in their own abilities, while also being understood and supported by their employers.

Laura Carter
Employment Specialist, Canvey Island

I joined the South team in June 2021. Prior to this, I worked in education for many years as a cover supervisor and higher level teaching assistant. I provided careers advice and support to Years 7-13 in a specialised Mental Health unit for adolescents. I now work closely with the clinical teams providing employment, education and training support to our clients with severe mental illness. I enjoy being part of a team that helps create positive, meaningful and lasting change, helping our clients bounce back!

Andria Moggridge
Employment Specialist, Basildon

Andria provides 1-1 personalised support to users referred to Employ-Ability. Andria helps users become work ready, which includes preparing their CV and identifying their career goals. Andria loves to spend time with her family, and is a keen beaded jewellery maker.

Geraint Hole
Employment Specialist, Brentwood

I have recently joined Employ-Ability and will be covering the Brentwood area from the Brentwood Resource Centre.  I have had a number of different careers in my working life including 15 years in the Met Police, 17 years working in the leisure industry starting as a Personal Trainer and Exercise Referral specialist, and then moved into various managerial roles. This culminated with me being a General Manager running a leisure centre for 7 years.  I am passionate about helping and supporting people with mental ill health back into work, and giving people hope that life can get better.  I have been a client of Employ-ability myself until recently and know the help and support that is on offer.  I wanted to find a job that brought more meaning and reward, so last year I completed the IPS Grow course for Employment Specialists. I will use all of the experience I have gained working in different sectors and also my own life experiences to be an advocate for my clients to get them in to paid work.

Amanda Hicks
Employment Specialist, Southend

I have recently joined the Employ-Ability team after being TUPE from Rethink Mental illness. I have been an Employment Specialist for the past 7 years and am based within the Community Mental Health Team at the Taylor Centre in Southend. I support adults with severe and enduring mental health issues back into paid employment. I encourage confidence, help create or tweak CV’s and covering letters, assist with job searching, applications and interviewing skills. I have been based within the community health team for just over a year. Prior to this, I worked within the early intervention (1st Psychosis team) that is located in Rochford. I have over 20 years’ experience within the care sector.

My spare time is taken up with my 3 children and husband. We spend quality time enjoying various days out and holidays away from our hectic home lives. I also enjoy gardening and DIY projects, as I find them rewarding and therapeutic.

Corinne Page
Employment Specialist, Southend

I joined Employ-Ability in July 2020 from Rethink Mental Illness. I previously worked in a day centre for adults with learning disabilities for 18 years. I have lots of experience working with people, which I hope makes me an approachable person. From experience, I know the difference being in employment with a supportive employer can make to your wellbeing and will do all I can to support my clients on an individual basis to achieve their goals.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family. I also love animals and have a dog called Woody, as well as keeping chickens.

Abbie Spicer
Employment Retention Specialist, West Essex

I joined Employ-ability in February 2022. I have a health care background and studied health and social care level 3 at college. I am very passionate about helping people and making them feel happy and helping to build up their confidence.

My role within the Employ-ability team is to help people with mental health conditions by supporting them within their work place and I look forward to working with my future clients.

Ann-Marie Oddie
Employment Retention Specialist, West Essex

I joined Employ-ability as an Employment Retention Specialist in November 2021 after 10 years within the recruitment industry. I became interested in mental health after realising that it affected those around me, which encouraged me to take a course at the local college to learn more. As a Retention Specialist, my remit is to support clients in retaining their job while dealing with mental ill health.  In my spare time, I like to walk my two dogs and spend time with friends.

Christina Wright
Employment Retention Specialist, South Essex

Christina has a varied background in supporting individuals with additional social, emotional, learning and mental health needs in therapeutic and social care roles and also delivering training to professionals around these topics. Christina enjoys building relationships with people and helping them to recognise their own strengths and potential, so they can move towards reaching their goals. Within her role in the Retention team, she supports employees and employers to find ways of working together to enable the employee to retain their role; which can include looking at reasonable adjustments and additional support that can be accessed. In her spare time Christina enjoys playing the saxophone, piano and drums and also volunteers for the Samaritans.

Kim Macleod
Employment Retention Specialist, South Essex

Before joining Employ-Ability as an Employment Specialist, Kim worked in the City for 19 years, both in recruitment and HR. Her most recent role was working as a Recruitment Manager for a medium sized city firm. In her spare time Kim is passionate about personal development, well-being and enjoys restorative yoga.

Megan Salter
Employment Retention Specialist, Southend

Megan is the employment retention specialist for Southend. Since starting back in May 2021, she has been working on creating a pilot to prove the need for employment retention in the Southend on Sea borough in order to create the funding for an on-going contract. Previously, Megan has worked in various roles ranging from retail management to specialised support work but has found this new role of helping individuals suffering with their mental health retain their employment, incredibly rewarding and a welcome challenge. In Megan’s spare time she loves to travel and enjoy all the riches the world has to offer, especially the snorkelling!

Angelo Sansiviero
Employment Specialist, Bury St Edmunds

Angelo has recently joined the Employ-Ability team based in Bury St Edmunds, bringing seven years of recruitment experience with him. He specialised as a graduate for schools focusing on special educational needs support provision and he is now excited to use the recruitment expertise he has to support those with mental ill health in finding and retaining work. Angelo enjoys building relationships and helping people to find success and thrive, when he’s not doing that, you might find him poring through a good book or spending time with his family.

Elizabeth Reeves
Employment Specialist, Bury St Edmunds

Lizzie joined the team as an Employment Specialist covering the Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury area. Having previously worked in the Health and Social Care sector, Lizzie is passionate about supporting people in an individualised way. When not at work Lizzie loves spending time with her family and friends.

Emily van Oosterom
Employment Specialist, Newmarket

Emily joined the team as an Employment Specialist covering the Newmarket and Thetford area. Having previously worked in the Health and Social Care sector, Emily is passionate about supporting people in an individualised way.

Chloe Janes
Employment Specialist, Newmarket

I graduated in 2021 with a 1st class degree in Criminal Justice. Upon graduation I joined the prison service, in a role helping offenders change their behaviour for the better by providing holistic support. I enjoy working with individuals to recognise and achieve their own goals no matter how big or small. I’m passionate about everyone having equal opportunities and supporting individuals with extra needs to achieve these opportunities, including individuals with mental health illness.

Carleyann Claridge-Hughes
Peer Support & Employment Advisor, Heads Up Project

I am a peer support worker based in Harlow and I offer support to those who are experiencing mental health struggles on their journey back to employment. Before working here, I was a care and support worker for vulnerable adults, over the last 9 years I have worked in dementia care, neurological rehabilitation, and epilepsy. I am passionate about meaningful work and have a particular interest in mental wellbeing. Outside of work I enjoy drawing and painting as often as I possibly can.

Sophie Rees
Peer Support & Employment Advisor, Heads Up Project

Sophie Supports people within Thurrock and Brentwood to get back into work, training or education. Sophie supports people with developing & improving their confidence levels and self esteem, and enjoys sign positing people to relevant jobs/courses or training opportunities to help grow their skills sets. She enjoys helping others achieve their goals. Outside of work, she is a busy mother of 4 and enjoys reading and baking.

Lise Stannard
Peer Support & Employment Advisor, Heads Up Project

I joined the HeadsUp Project as a Peer Support Worker covering Southend on Sea, Rayleigh, Rochford and Canvey Island in November 2021. I have lived experience of having mental health issues and a period of unemployment, so being able to do this job and help others is an honour. Previously I worked for the Police in support roles for over 12 years and prior to that I worked in Office Administration along with bringing up my family. In my own time I walk my dog, Boo-Bear, and spend as much time as possible with my family.

Emily Smith
Peer Support & Employment Advisor, Heads Up Project

I enjoy supporting individuals through their mental health journey and helping gain the confidence and skills they need to get back into employment. I have a Diploma in Higher education in Criminology and Psychology and have worked as a support worker for over a year, starting with supporting those who have suffered Domestic abuse. Supporting others is a passion of mine.

Debbie Parry
Senior Administrator

Debbie supports the Service Manager and looks after all of the office administration at Employ-Ability. She ensures that the rest of the staff have adequate support to work efficiently.  She has extensive experience within administration support spanning over 35 years. Debbie is a trainee counsellor and enjoys sewing in her spare time.