Building Brighter Futures
S.M.I.L.E Counselling first became constituted on 15th June 2015. Since then the Board of Trustees have worked tirelessly to get the organisation to where it is today. Now we are an official Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation and have begun delivering counselling sessions to local young people. We aim to be able to deliver a bespoke outreach counselling service to young people when they need it most. Our primary goal is to help young people get to a good place in their lives where they feel Supported, Motivated, Inspired, Leading to self-determination and Empowered to make their own positive choices.
Hi there, my name is Declan and I am the Founder and CEO of S.M.I.L.E Counselling.
In my previous roles I worked with children and young people in West Lothian and the more time I spent in my role the more I noticed that many were unable to access the counselling help they needed as well as waiting times being far too long for the services that were available. I realised that our children and young people desperately needed more support so this led to S.M.I.L.E being born in 2015 to offer a free counselling service to 11-24 year olds.
I am delighted to say that we celebrated our 5 year anniversary in June 2020 and to date we have helped over 500 individuals and 1500 young people in a group setting. That’s around 3400 counselling hours in total!
I want to say a massive ‘thank you’ to all our funders, clients, staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this happen… together we really are making a difference.
Going forward we hope to continue offering our free service to as many young people as possible and it is even more crucial today due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
We have made changes in order to reach more young people every way we can and the key change we are making is to become more interactive online so that there is current and useful information available 24/7.
We have already adapted our approach to deliver online, telephone and email counselling. During lockdown this has worked really well for our clients and counsellors and truly helped us all overcome the adversity of the pandemic.
As I said before … we will reach you and help you any way we can… and together we will overcome the challenges we face.
As always … thank you for all your continued support and we look forward to seeing you all soon.
Take care and keep smiling 🙂
Declan began his career in corporate sales while studying Social Policy and Sociology at Magee, University of Ulster. After University and spending an additional 4 years training as a therapist he now has experience in supporting and counselling young people for over 10 years both in the North of Ireland and since 2012 in West Lothian, Scotland.
His experience in counselling began in the North of Ireland where he worked specifically with those people affected by self-harm or suicidal thoughts / ideation. However, in addition to this work he has also worked with issues such as bullying, sexual orientation, depression, anxiety, bereavement, relationship issues, abuse or post Northern Ireland conflict prisoners affected by PTSD to name but a few.
Declan worked extensively on anti-sectarianism projects with the young people involved using various counselling approaches in groups to help change their negative thinking about each other and encourage them to look at the similarities instead of the very minimal differences.
He then moved to Scotland in 2012 where he took up the position as a project co-ordinator working with similar groups and co-ordinating a youth unemployment strategy while supporting these young people to address their barriers and re-engaging positively into their community again.
Declan is married and has a young son. He says that “my wife and son are the driving force behind the work that I do. I love my job and being a part of the S.M.I.L.E Team is more than just a job, it’s like a family. We are all passionate about delivering the best service we can for the children and young people of West Lothian and hope to be an integral part of the community work for many years to come”.
Margaret is graduated with a PGDip in Psychological Wellbeing, Counselling and Psychotherapy and is a member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists.
Margaret works within the Person Centred framework providing clients the opportunity to explore and understand their own unique personal experience.
She works with a variety of clients who have experienced issues such as anxiety, stress, illness-related change of life experiences, cancer, bereavement, domestic violence, rape and depression.
Margaret’s family includes her partner of 20 years, their 12 year old daughter and two energetic dogs. Relaxation is found through hillwalking, photography and canicross.
Tracy has always had a desire to work with children and young people so after twenty years working her way through the ranks in Hospitality she retrained as a counsellor. During training she worked with young people in various charities and organisations across West Lothian and Edinburgh and has continued to do so, most recently with those affected by drug and alcohol use.
She holds a DipHE in Counselling Children and Young People and although her core training is in Psycodynamic Theory she uses an Integrative approach to create bespoke interventions for each individual young person. Tracy believes that every child or young person can reach their true potential if given the time and space to explore who they are and what makes them unique, and often uses creative techniques to facilitate this exploration.
Tracy is a member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists and hopes to continue studying in the field of trauma therapy. She will bring her management and counselling experience together and build on the already amazing team here at S.M.I.L.E.
When relaxing Tracy enjoys spending time with her husband, walking their dog and is also partial to getting lost in a good book or television binge, particularly gritty dramas.
Fiona believes passionately that every human being should have the opportunity to maximise their potential.
During her career, Fiona has supported some of the most vulnerable people in our society, run a successful social enterprise, and provides business development advice and support to other social enterprises.
Fiona recently retired from full-time working and has joined S.M.I.L.E. as our Administration, Assistant.
Bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge about the charitable and social enterprise sectors she hopes to be an asset to S.M.I.L.E Counselling and looks forward to contributing towards a positive impact on the lives of young people.
Gemma has a background in psychology and has recently completed a Research Master’s in Evolution and Human Behaviour from Newcastle University.
Gemma’s research project investigated how the use of certain coping mechanisms can become unhelpful or harmful after experiencing stressful and traumatic events. This research project made her particularly interested in how the human stress response evolved, and how beneficial it is to learn how to cope with and manage stress and difficult emotions throughout our lives.
Gemma is very happy to be starting with S.M.I.L.E. and contributing towards and making a positive impact to the lives of young people in the area.
Gemma enjoys practicing mindfulness and yoga, and in her spare time, she handmakes her own garden gnomes and completes monthly Bee Walks as a member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
Dr Martha Pollard will be delivering our COSCA Certificate in Counselling Skills.
Martha has several years experience in emotional and social support, especially for carers and people living with dementia. She delivers dementia awareness and dementia, creativity and interaction training for family carers, volunteers, community groups and staff. Martha studied psychology and public health, and was a lecturer in health psychology for 8 years before moving into community-based support work in 2012. Her formal studies in counselling began in 2016 and she loves tutoring as well. She also has a background in care work and is a dementia researcher.
Martha enjoys reading and writing poetry and volunteers with her local food bank. She is a mindfulness practitioner and draws on compassion-focussed therapy approaches in counselling
Laura’s first opportunity to take interest in supporting people was during first year in high school when a volunteering opportunity became available supporting summer play schemes with Barnardo’s. This initial experience at a young age was the first of many, leading to youth work (including girls groups, sexual health services and residential).
Laura studied at Napier University gaining a Degree in Youth Work with distinction. Following her studies, she has worked across the voluntary sector within mental health and addictions, the Local Authority developing and delivering local training in line with national objectives, and currently with the NHS in health promotion.
Laura’s wide breadth of experience includes supporting people with challenging life circumstances including homelessness, looked after children and young people, addictions, custodial enevironments and mental health. She has been a national trainer of suicide prevention since 2009. Laura is excited to be taking up a training role at SMILE Counselling and is keen to contribute to the wellbeing of young people, their families and the communities there they live.
Laura attends gym classes, run regularly and feel that this supports both her physical and mental well-being. She is also passionate about going to the theatre to see almost anything!
Mairi is enrolled in a Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.
Mairi works within a person-centred and congnitive-behavioural framework, providing clients the opportunity to explore and understand their own personal experience.
She values the unique experience of each individual, bringing warmth and empathy to her work.
Before beginning her doctorate and joining S.M.I.L.E., Mairi worked in adult mental health in the NHS for nearly 13 years. Her career in Psychology has taken her across Scotland, from Aberdeen to the Lothians and Glasgow.
Mairi shares her home-life with her husband, children and their dog.
Jenni has worked with children and young people since leaving school. Starting out as a nanny and volunteering for local youth projects in Edinburgh, Jenni moved into childminding after having her own 3 children and loved the unique bond this created with families, which led her into studying children’s learning and development. Once her own children were grown, Jenni moved into working with children in the care system which she found both rewarding and challenging. Jenni has volunteered for a number of charities over the years, mainly working with maternal health and wellbeing as well as bereavement which included running and setting up support groups.
In 2018, Jenni and some friends set up her own charity to support bereaved parents by providing a short break away on the West Coast of Scotland.
Jenni completed her PG Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy in Edinburgh in 2019 and currently works as a counsellor at James Young High School full time and with the charity Pregnancy Counselling and Care in private practice.
Jenni likes to spend her spare time with her 4 adult children and her small granddaughter or having fun on weekends away with her friends.
Lizzie is a qualified Person Centred Counsellor working in Broxburn Academy and the SMILE Offices. Lizzie works with young people to help them gain a deeper personal understanding of themselves, working with suicidal ideation, self-harm, self-doubt, anxiety, depression and trauma.
Lizzie is also a Supervisor at Children1st Parentline and has extensive experience of working with parents and carers helping them better understand themselves and the children in their care.
Lizzie’s love of counselling was discovered in her initial counselling training where she experienced, first hand, the power of allowing people to be really heard in the moment.
Lizzie’s work experience prior to counselling is in Event Management, Marketing and Sales which has given her excellent experience in being flexible, resourceful and patient.
Lizzie lives with her husband, 2 children, a Jack Russell, who thinks he’s a footballer, and a cat that loves a chat in the morning.
Belinda has always had a passion for working with young people. She is a qualified Art Psychotherapist and has joined SMILE as a Children and Young People’s Counsellor. Belinda loves using creative therapeutic approaches as part of her practice.
Prior to joining SMILE Belinda was a primary teacher for almost ten years, mainly teaching in the upper stages of primary six and seven. In addition to this she has also worked as a teacher of additional support needs, teaching young people with a range of needs, predominantly autistic spectrum disorders.
Over the years Belinda has volunteered for ChildLine and has done a great deal of fundraising for charity. In her spare time she loves to make art, write, listen to music, go out for walks with her mini dachshund and spend time with her family and friends.
Manjeet is from Coventry and realised she wanted to support young people’s mental well-being whilst working in primary schools as a pupil support worker. After graduating in 2001, she went into hospitality and sales, but then decided to take a career break to bring up two children.
Manjeet worked in schools for 5 years, where she completed the HNC in Early Education and Childcare, but quickly noticed that her passion lay elsewhere. She then went on to complete the COSCA Counselling Skills Certificate and PG Dip in Counselling to support adults as well as children and young people. In schools, Manjeet was mainly assisting teachers within classrooms whilst also running small groups for language support. She also volunteered at Carers of West Lothian during the Diploma.
Having such a busy schedule, Manjeet always manages to find time to run and loves being outdoors. Spending time with her family sets her up for the following week, where they enjoy doing various things together, like movie nights, walks and even gaming (with a little persuasion)!
Jacqueline studied Marine Biology in Ireland and during this time volunteered at a National Park working with young people as a Nature Guide before studying to be a Cognitive Behavioiural Therapist in Glasgow.
During her studies, Jacqueline worked in a children’s care home where her main job was to aid the young people in realising their aspirations as well as focusing on creating healthy relationships with themselves and the people around them.
Jacqueline graduated with a Diploma in Cognative Behavioural Therapy and has since been working with clients with an array of difficulties such as Anxiety, Depression/Low Mood, Body image, Self Harm, Stress and Thought processes varying from negative thoughts and worry to suicidal thoughts. Jacqueline currently works with us as an Outreach Counsellor.
Fiona is a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. She joined the SMILE team as a Trainee Counsellor in January 2020, before becoming a Young Person’s Counsellor in 2021. Fiona studied at ACT Counselling in Glasgow, where she now volunteers as a Training Assistant. She is a member of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).
She is passionate about helping young people discover their coping strategies to help them in difficult times and to reach their potential. Using CBT techniques, she works with each individual at a pace to suits their needs. Fiona also has experience volunteering with Neil’s Hugs, a charity created to support people affected by suicide.
Fiona’s background is in marketing communications and she works part-time in the marketing team at Scottish Enterprise.
Fiona is married with two boys and a loveable retriever Monty. She enjoys swimming and spending time with friends and family.
Mairi recently completed her COSCA Certificate in Counselling Skills at Edinburgh College and is now studying with Persona Counselling for the PG Diploma in Psychological Wellbeing, Counselling and Psychotherapy within the Person Centred framework. She has 15 years’ experience of working with children and has been a primary school teacher in Edinburgh for the last 7 years. Mairi feels privileged to be able to support young people when they feel ready to talk, and is an empathic listener with a warm and nurturing nature. Mairi has been married to Gordon for 23 years and they have two very grown up sons. With a degree in English and Music, playing the piano helps Mairi switch off and relax. She also loves breathing in the fresh air while walking on the beach or in the Pentland Hills with her very naughty one year old Labrador, Gracie.
Mandy is currently completing her PG Diploma in Counselling with Interface Training in Edinburgh, which is oriented towards the Person Centred Approach. She is genuinely interested in supporting people to move towards what matters to them, using their own strengths. This is one of the reasons why she would like to train as a counsellor. Mandy passionately believes in dedicating her time to projects that tackle social exclusion and has spent over ten years doing this across Scotland in the NHS and Third Sector. During this time, she has particularly enjoyed developing and delivering various workshops to various schools and groups in the community. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, live music, films, fantasy fiction books, practicing mindfulness and anything outdoorsy.
John has extensive experience in Secondary and University education, with an emphasis on pastoral care. Although he is a teacher, he has never stopped learning – not least about himself.
He is passionate about helping people of all ages, but especially young people, to cope with the challenges of life. He has a particular interest in adverse childhood experiences and the impact of loss on young people. While working mainly in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, John also likes to draw on integrative approaches to counselling.
He enjoys music, books, cinema and is reckoned a bit of a science fiction geek. John has a lively Cocker Spaniel who keeps him on his toes, and who would love to be a Therapet!
Liz comes from a background of hairdressing. Liz has worked as a Prison Officer for the last 20 years working with male young adults and then with female young adults and female adults. During this time Liz has helped and supported all prisoners with their confidence, self-esteem, self-harm reduction, addiction reduction and education.
Liz is very passionate about her work and enjoys the results that it achieves. Liz has been married for 37 years, has a grown up family and three young Grand Children.
Louise is qualified in a Advanced Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling. She is also a practicing hypnotherapist.
Louise is committed to helping clients reduce confusion and gain a different perspective on how to cope with life’s challenges, which in turn will allow them to make positive changes when, where and how they choose to make them.
Prior to retraining, she spent over 20 years working in Human Resources, latterly focusing on Executive Coaching, Learning & Development and Functional Leadership.
She is married with two children.
Ian has worked in Financial Services for 25 years and brings to the Board a wealth of expertise in Financial Planning and securing funding.
Ian is an active volunteer at The Falkirk Foundation where he is part of a team responsible for coaching football along with the health and wellbeing of some 500 young people aged 5 to 18.
A former School Governor responsible for the National Curriculum, Ian’s passion and commitment to helping young people cope with challenges in their lives is obvious.
Ian is married with 2 teenage boys and loves family time with their dog Harvey.
Katie graduated from Stirling University in 2019 with an Honours degree in Psychology.
She has volunteered for different mental health organisations since her third year at university, working with mostly elderly people with a variety of mental health issues such as depression and social anxiety.
Within this she helped others understand their illness and also finding tools to help manage their symptoms to be able to live their life to the fullest.
She recently obtained a new job as a mental health support worker, working with individuals of varying ages and supporting them in their daily lives. She enjoys seeing how the right support can help others progress in their recovery journey.
Katie lives locally within West Lothian, and is passionate about working within her own community and eager to gain more experience working with a younger age group.
Paula has worked as a Civil Servant for the last 18 years in both operational and policy roles. She brings with her a wealth of HR, management, policy development, project management and stakeholder engagement experience.
As a foster carer she is passionate about children’s rights and has seen first had the benefits that counselling can bring for children who have experienced trauma. She has attended numerous seminars and has been a member of many multi agency reviews.
Paula is also a mentor for the Career Ready Scheme, a scheme for supporting fifth and sixth year students with disadvantage to reach their full potential.
Paula is also a mentor for the Career Ready Scheme, a scheme for supporting fifth and sixth year students with disadvantage to reach their full potential.
Douglas has worked in the local authority for the last 14 years across a number of roles and is currently involved in Service Development. He is passionate about community and customer service.
Douglas has been integral to a number of different projects; sourcing funding and providing guidance to support community projects and initiatives to reduce inequalities and promote regeneration.
Rachel is currently a People and Payroll Adviisor with Genius Foods Limited.
Alongside this she is currently undertaking studies with the Open University.
Rachel gained experience working for the local Council as a Benefits Advisor and previous volunteering in the local community in different roles from a very young age. She soon realised her empathy for helping those in need whether it be due to poverty or ill health and strived to support them in whatever way possible. Rachel went on to a career within Human Resources, where she has 3 years experience.
Rachel is 22 years old, is living and working within West Lothian and is keen to support her local community.