Meet the team
All the team at Youth Talk are committed to our determination to provide the best possible mental health support to young people in St Albans and the surrounding areas.
Meet the team: Our Trustees
Jackie Fowler (Chair)
I’ve worked with charities for nearly 30 years, helping them to develop support, move people to action, and build long-term relationships with donors. I bring experience across a range of causes, large and small, from individual giving to building legacy support.
I’ve always believed that when you reach out to people with the right messages and stories to connect with them, you can build relationships that benefit both the cause and the supporter.
As a local resident and a Mum to three children in their teens and twenties, I know how important the work of Youth Talk is.
Having headed up a fundraising agency for many years, and been a trustee of a local charity, I am delighted to bring my experience to the board of Youth Talk.
Christopher Clulow, PhD
I was a former probation officer and currently work as a consultant psychotherapist.
For nearly two decades I was Director of the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and have spent a professional lifetime researching, trying to help and teach others about troubled family relationships.
With two daughters and four grandchildren, the concern to give children the best chance in life is both personal as well as professional.
Margaret Thirlway (Company Secretary)
I have worked as a Solicitor for many years and then joined the Civil Service as a government lawyer, currently working on international fisheries issues. I have been involved in Youth Talk since its inception, and having two daughters in their twenties, am very aware of the stresses young people face and the crying need for early intervention to alleviate mental health difficulties.
I am a digital specialist with 10+ years experience in marketing agencies and the charity sector. Working for the NSPCC and Childline, and as a mother to two young children, I can say that I am truly passionate about supporting young people. As someone born and raised here in St Albans, this is a community I have a deep connection with.
As a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, I have much experience of working with children and their families in a variety of settings including NHS child mental health services, education, voluntary sector and currently in private practice.
I have known about the important work of Youth Talk for many years and have published widely on the subjects of psychotherapy, art therapy and related areas.
Alison joined Youth Talk in January 2023 with over 20 years of HR experience working in a number of sectors including technology, retail and the charity sector. Alison has two teenage children and was a school governor for a number of years and therefore feels strongly about supporting young people with their mental health and understands the impact it can have on the lives of individuals. In her spare time, Alison sings in a local choir and likes to be out walking her dog, preferably in the sunshine!
I originally qualified as a Chartered Accountant and since then have spent most of my career working for businesses as a Finance Director or latterly as CEO. I have lived in St Albans for over 15 years and have two children aged 18 & 21. The work that Youth Talk does is hugely important and has become even more so since the impact of the pandemic and I feel fortunate to offer any expertise that I can, to help further the great work the charity does.
As a former Headteacher of a secondary school in Hertfordshire, I am aware of the need for additional professional support to help young people.
After my Headship I helped establish a new charity and we employed extra home-school support workers which was valued by all.
I have enjoyed and helped charities as a Board member, including local charities, Earthworks St Albans and Computer Friendly.
I was attracted to Youth Talk because of its self-referral process and focus on the needs and concerns of each individual.
The need for individual counselling for young people is required more than ever. I want to help Youth Talk to grow
I retired in September 2021 from the Elms Medical Practice in Harpenden where I had been a GP and Partner for 26 years. I have lived in the St Albans and Harpenden area for over thirty years and I am married to another local GP who also recently retired. We have two sons currently aged 24 and 22 years old.
I have always been impressed by the services Youth Talk provided for our patients.
Meet the team: Our Staff
David Barker – Chief Executive
David joined us part time as our CEO in April 2019. He has over 25 years’ experience in a variety of senior management and leadership roles within a number of UK charities – including the British Heart Foundation, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, RNID and the Scout Association. Prior to joining Youth Talk David was CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis UK where he led a significant programme of modernisation, change and growth, doubling the size of the organisation in his five-year tenure. When not at Youth Talk David runs his three film and media businesses specialising in filming, production, aerial filming/photography and 3D immersive tours! In his spare time David is a volunteer, a fundraiser and also a Trustee for the Scouts.
David describes himself as – Determined. Energetic. Short.
Kaz Underwood- Operations Manager
Kaz joined Youth Talk in February 2022, with over 17 years experience working in Care and Supported Housing, Managing Women’s Refuges, young people’s semi-independent housing and specialised accommodation for unaccompanied asylum seeking young people age16-18. Kaz is a people person, she is friendly, approachable and down to earth, as a mum of two, she has a passion for working with young people, and was inspired by Youth Talk. Her role as Operations Manager is to oversee the smooth running of the service. Kaz would describe herself in 3 words as: kind, creative and honest
Gill Walker – Clinical Reception
Gill might be your first point of contact, whether that be in-person or via phone, arranging your appointments, taking messages for staff, booking you in, confirming that your contact details are correct and directing you where to go next.
Rachel Simkin –
Our Fundraising Manager, Rachel has worked in the charity sector for over 15 years. Rachel is a local resident in St Albans and joined Youth Talk in October 2020 as our first ever fundraiser. She’s determined to help grow Youth Talk’s presence in the local community and raise vital funds so that we can be there when times are tough for our local young people.
Rachel’s passionate about bringing people together and strives to put the fun into fundraising! Her goal is to ensure our supporters and volunteers have the best possible experience fundraising in aid of Youth Talk. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, looking for inspiration or have a question about our work and how to get involved, Rachel is always happy to chat and help. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fact – Rachel loves cake, cats and a run or walk in the countryside!
Yvonne Masters – Clinical Reception
Yvonne is a clinical receptionist and may also be your first point of contact. Yvonne may be able to answer your questions or provide general information, or direct you to someone who can provide more direct and specific information.
Both our receptionists are responsible for keeping, updating, and maintaining records by getting the appropriate information from those that come to Youth Talk, therapists and counsellors.
Tara Bowen – Clinical Reception
Tara might be your first point of contact, whether that be in-person or via phone, arranging your appointments, taking messages for staff, booking you in, confirming that your contact details are correct and directing you where to go next.
Tara is a proud Aussie who has lived in the UK for 25 years, loves all sport, mostly cricket, tennis and rugby.
Margaret Smallbone – Clinical Supervisor
As our Clinical Supervisor, Margaret provides clinical leadership and support to our counselling and administrative team. She works with all of our counsellors directly supporting them with their caseload and also advises Youth Talk on the clinical development of the service. In addition, Margaret also chairs the weekly clinical team meeting.
Sally Sayers – Clinical Supervisor
Sally is registered with the HCPC and BAAT as an Art Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor. She has worked extensively with young children, adolescents and young adults in various sectors such as charity, education, inpatient, CAMHS and private practice. Sally is passionate about the work Youth Talk does and the vital support it offers young people at challenging times in their lives. Sally supports the counsellors through supervision, is part of the clinical management team and also the project lead for group psychotherapy at Youth Talk
Emily Richland – Fundraising Assistant
Our Fundraising Assistant Emily has a long history of working in her local community as a teacher. She joined Youth Talk in June 2022 to support a cause close to her heart. She has made it her goal to aid in Youth Talk’s mission to promote accessible, confidential, and safe spaces for young people in the St Albans District. Emily’s role is to support the fundraising team, help produce promotional materials and organise events that raise awareness and funds for the essential services that we offer.
Emily is passionate about animals and the importance of education to tackle social issues! She loves to go on long walks and settle down with a book.
Karen Snook – Marketing Executive
Karen joined Youth Talk in August 2023 bringing a wide range of skills including content marketing, social media management and community outreach. She can’t wait to assist developing and executing successful marketing campaigns that will further raise awareness and engagement around the services that Youth Talk offers.
Karen is also involved in the local community in St Albans. She has been instrumental in running a large Facebook group in the area, connecting local residents, businesses and organisations. This has allowed her to work closely with local companies on marketing and social media campaigns.
When Karen is not with her family you can find her weightlifting at the local gym, blogging or supporting St Albans Football Club at their home games.
Jacqueline Martin – Community Partnerships Officer
Jac joined the Youth Talk team in April 2022 initially in a volunteer role and is now part of the fundraising team. Originally a primary teacher Jac then spent 20 years in education publishing.
Jac sees good mental health as fundamentally linked with education outcomes. Through her work as a local school governor, as well as being a mum of three, Jac has seen mental health issues rise exponentially over recent years and consequently the need for support.
Youth Talk’s vision – for every young person to have a safe space to talk – really resonated with Jac as did their ambition to double capacity over the next five years. Her core role is to secure funding from local groups and businesses to help achieve that growth and help more local young people.
We currently have a team of 11 professional counsellors – all of whom are specialists in working with and supporting young people.
Meet the team: Our Youth Panel
Our work is informed directly by young people through regular engagement with our active Youth Panel. They advise us on a range of projects and issues.