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Wellbeing Peer Support Network

About the Wellbeing Peer Support network

Wellbeing Peer Support is a network of trained University staff who are a first point of contact if you are experiencing a mental health issue, poor wellbeing or emotional distress.

All Wellbeing Peer Support volunteers have undertaken a comprehensive two day Mental Health awareness and skills course that has provided them with a deeper understanding of the issues that impact on and relate to people's mental health.

What we do

One in four adults in the UK experience a mental health condition in any given year.

We are trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues, and can guide you toward the right support services. We are not there to counsel or diagnose but to provide initial confidential support and information.

The Wellbeing Peer Support role profile provides more information on what the role comprises.

You can contact any Wellbeing Peer Support volunteer direct and don't have to be based in the same School/Function. To contact one of our volunteers click on the link below.

Wellbeing Peer Support - profiles and contact list

Vicki Aldmington

My name is Vicki and I work as a Business Relationship Manager in the Knowledge Transfer Centre. I joined the university in 2017 initially to work in Food and Nutritional Sciences and moved to my current role a year later. I've always worked in science communication-type roles, initially in education and moving to industrial collaboration since coming to Reading.

I'm a mum of two little girls and I have an old dog too, I work full-time, in any spare time I can find I love to cycle, run, cook and camp (not necessarily in that order!). I like to spend as much time outside as I can!

I've experienced some challenging times related to child-loss (two miscarriages) and work stress (challenging manager - in another organisation!) and have been very fortunate to have had some incredible support from friends, family, professionals and colleagues. I've supported friends and family through similar times and am often asked for advice. I can't promise to fix things for you but I can, and will, listen. Please don't feel alone, there's always someone who will listen, you just need to reach out.

You can contact me via email or on 0118 378 6956.

Emily Brady

My name is Emily and I work in the Strategic Projects Team in the Planning & Strategy Office. I've been at the University for almost 7 years, working with colleagues across the University from varying levels and backgrounds. Prior to the University, I worked for a global digital marketing agency - a somewhat different environment to the University! I experienced first-hand the pressures colleagues can put on one another. It was one of the reasons I joined the University - to be part of an organisation that gives to, and achieves more for, the world we live in, while valuing and supporting its staff and their wellbeing.

I have experienced difficult times in my life, for which I have been grateful to have had support throughout. It is seeing and experiencing the benefit that mental health support can bring that has been the driver for me undertaking training of my own looking at how individuals think and behave, how individuals can be supported through difficult times, and has started me on my journey to become a counsellor.

I would encourage anyone who is struggling to contact me or one of my colleagues to come and talk things through. No one should feel alone, and we are here to support everyone.

You can contact me via email or by phone 0118 378 6171.

Jude Brindley

I have worked for the University of Reading since 2008, in a variety of roles. I currently work as a Health and Safety Coordinator for the Institute of Education, the School of Arts and Communication Design and the School of Built Environment. I've also worked for the central Health and Safety team and in various Widening Participation projects. My long time at the University and the varied roles have given me a breadth of knowledge of the University and the way it works.

I am an avid reader, film watcher and I also do the voices of animals I see when I walk around the lake! I believe I am non-judgmental and an open, friendly person. I like to talk to people and I'm a calm, thoughtful listener, whatever you need to talk about. Mental health is as important as physical health and I'm so pleased to be able to be part of the University's response to the increased awareness of this.

You can contact me on 0118 378 8870, 0789 474 8471, or

Heike Burnell

I joined the University in 2016 and work as an Assistant Pensions Manager in HR. My job involves meeting people from across the campus which I really enjoy. I was also fortunate to have studied at Reading, completing my Master's degree in 2012.

Outside of work, I have a busy family life and enjoy gardening. I have done several volunteering roles, including resolving pension disputes for The Pensions Advisory Service, being a treasurer for the local PTA and running a community garden.

I have been involved in various wellbeing and mental health initiatives, including encouraging staff to share their experiences of mental health to help others who may be struggling. I have close family members and friends that I have supported through mental illness and like to think of myself as an empathetic, non-judgemental listener.

If you would like to like to talk about any issues you, or someone you know, may be having please feel free to contact me by phone (ext 6184) or email and I will be happy to help.

Lizzie Cairns

I joined RUSU as a Money Adviser in 2017. In 2018, I took a position as Student Support Coordinator, mainly working with the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences.

Prior to that, I studied and worked abroad for a few years. When I was at university, I volunteered with a student-led listening service. In these roles, I worked with students in difficult situations.

I'm a positive, empathetic and patient person, and my experiences have taught me how to be a good listener. I am happy to be a listening ear to members of staff and would encourage you to reach out and contact me, or another volunteer, when you feel ready. There's always something (however small) you can do to improve your situation and I'm happy to be someone you talk things through with.

You can contact me via email or on the phone 0118 378 8223.

Stephanie Cook

I joined the University in September 2017 and work in Research Services as Research Costing Officer, supporting research grants and contracts. I've previously worked for the NHS and in industry as well as Higher Education, so I have experience of a range of different working environments, and an awareness of some of the pressures that can be faced at work.

I believe proactively looking after our mental health is as important as ever with increasingly busy and pressured lifestyles, and enjoy being active as a way of keeping stress levels in check - especially running, and have more recently discovered yoga as a great way to relax.

I'm approachable, a good listener and always happy to talk through any problem, no matter how big or small. I am an LGBT+ ally. Feel free to contact me on or on ext 7399.

Eleanor Draycott

I joined the University of Reading in March 2018. My role is the Head of Customer Experience & Service Delivery in Digital Technology Services (formerly IT). I'm based in the Information Technology building (number 4 on the campus map) and work with staff and students across the university to improve the delivery of IT services and support. I live in West Oxfordshire and am really passionate about working in Higher Education.

I'm very conscious of the importance of mental wellbeing and mental health especially in the workplace. I am pleased to see mental wellbeing being placed on the agenda at the university and hope to see this as the start of increasing awareness and support for colleagues; equipping people with the tools to support others and to create an atmosphere where people can raise their hand to say they're not ok and asking to speak to someone.

Please feel free to contact me for any issues or concerns, nothing too big or small, on ext 2904 or via

Julie Farwell

I joined the University in 2006, working for the first 10 years for both Clinical Health Sciences and Occupational Health, and for the last 3 years at the School of Literature and Languages as Executive Administration Officer. I am a Health & Safety Co-ordinator and trained First Aider. I have personal experience of supporting someone with a mental health issue, which has equipped me with the skills to be able to offer support to others.

I have a positive outlook to life and like to smile. I'm a good, non-judgemental listener and will be able to offer you friendly empathetic support. Supporting my colleagues at Reading is very important, especially with the ever growing day-to-day pressures that can arise at both work and home. I am a mother of two grown-up children and for my own well-being, I enjoy regular exercise classes, running and I am a member of a local Community Choir. If you would like to meet with me, I work full-time Monday to Friday and can be easily reached in confidence, on ext 8366 or by email

Kevin Flint

I have been at the University since 1985 in various technical roles and I am currently a Technical Manager in the Technical Services function with a good knowledge of how the University works. I am based on the Whiteknights campus.

I am currently a member of the Staff Disability Network core group, an inclusive support network aiming to provide a voice for all staff with disabilities, impairments and/or mental health conditions.

I identify as a gay man, so I have an understanding of LGBT+ issues, both inside and outside of the University.

You can contact me on 0118 378 6345 or and via MS Teams

Jessica Gardner

I was interested to become a member of the Wellbeing Peer Support network because I recognise how important it is to listen to people when daily life throws up stresses, obstacles or unexpected challenges. I have supported friends who have encountered low points and personally have experienced grief through the loss of a very close family member.

I work within the Executive Support team in Department of Meteorology, Earley Gate and am happy to talk to people in person, over the phone or via email.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my children and family, do some charity work, walking, horse riding, talking, listening to music (if no one else is in the house I may turn it up and have a dance around the kitchen).

If you think you need to talk, take the first step and make contact with me or one of the other volunteers. Confidentiality and listening in a non-judgmental way is part of our ethos. There is no problem too big or too small that can't be shared.

I can be reached on and extension 8794.

Cat Hale

My name is Cat and I work in the Graduate School as Joint Head of the Doctoral Office. I joined the University in 2009 and worked for the School of Pharmacy before moving over to the Graduate School in 2016. My role often deals with complicated student cases that regularly revolve around cause and effect of poor wellbeing and I understand from personal experience about how important good mental health is personally and at work. I am an approachable, empathetic person and I am happy to listen and help where I can.

Deciding to speak to someone and to work towards feeling better is a difficult choice to make so I can offer a confidential, caring and non-judgemental chat in person, by phone or over email. You can contact me on ext 7348 or by email

David Inglis

I work as an editor at Greenlands. I became a Wellbeing Peer Support volunteer because I wanted to translate my personal experience into a way of supporting others. If you feel the need to talk, you can always talk to me. I may not have the answers, but I'll always listen and show you where you can find help if you want it. You can contact me via email or on the phone 01491 571454.

Alison John

Hello, my name is Alison and I'm a Wellbeing Peer Support volunteer. I have been at Reading since 2016 and am employed by the University as a Mental Health Advisor in The Counselling and Wellbeing Service. In this role I support students who may be experiencing emotional or psychological distress or personal difficulties.

As a Registered Mental Health Nurse I live by a set of personal and professional values and standards which must be continuously demonstrated. Volunteering as a Wellbeing Peer Supporter provides the opportunity to offer some of these skills and attributes whilst seeing you as a colleague rather than a nurse. First and foremost I care and strive to be sensitive and respectful without exception. I aim to promote positive mental health and wellbeing, listening in a non-judgemental way and signposting to support recovery.

Outside of work I am a parent to 3 lovely (most of the time!) boys and therefore work hard to employ strategies for maintaining my own mental health and that of my family. I enjoy music, reading, being active and spending time with friends to name but a few interests. I work on Wednesdays and Fridays at The Whiteknights campus. Thank you for taking the time to read my profile, please don't hesitate to get in touch by email: and we can arrange a suitable time to talk in a safe, convenient and confidential space.

Richard Joliffe

I'm a User Support Manager with a large team of technical staff split over three campuses. I deal with many IT problems but also a large part of my role is helping the team with their working and personal issues that often present larger challenges than the IT work. Supporting them as a manager and often as a friend is one of the most rewarding parts of my role.

I have had significant and seriously poor mental episodes twice over the past 10 years and minor ongoing ones in between. It has been a difficult journey but I have come out at the end stronger and happier with a better understanding of myself, my character and new tools to ensure things will never escalate as badly again. Having gone through and learnt so much, I wanted to volunteer to be a mental health first aider to be there for someone else but with the backup of formal training in addition to my own experiences. We are here for you to listen and help in any way we can. The first step is the hardest I know but it will be worth it.

Just in case you want to know, my passions are surfing, beach volleyball, snowboarding, travel, food, music and meeting new people from everywhere.

You can contact me via email or on the phone 0118 378 7663.

Becky Kite

I have worked for Henley Business School/Reading for almost 15 years now, in various departments. Currently I am the programme co-ordinator for the HBS MSc/DBA in Business and Management Research and I am based at the Greenlands Campus.

During this time, I have been involved with various staff-focused initiatives such as social collaboration, staff development and, more recently, I am a member of the Staff Forum and a LGBTQ+ Ally.

I am passionate about the development and wellbeing of my colleagues and ensuring that we all get the support we need. I have recently completed the Henley Certificate in Coaching and this qualification, alongside my previous experience of supporting and representing my colleagues, means that I am well equipped to listen, help, support and advise. No matter what is troubling you, I am always happy to help, listen and provide non-judgemental support. Please do not suffer in silence.

You can contact me by email or on the phone 01491 418775 or ext 2015 (Greenlands).

Katy Lanxon

I joined the University in 2014. I'm currently a HR Coordinator in the Human Resources team, where I provide advice for recruitment and employee life at the university.

Over the years, both personally and at work, I've encountered the effects that mental health issues and life challenges can cause for individuals from depression, learning difficulties, bereavement, bullying, etc. This had led me to take an interest in understanding mental health and leading a healthy and positive life.

From being part of these journeys, I can offer empathy and insights from my experiences that others could benefit from if they are experiencing such challenges. I've also come to understand the importance of feeling you have a safe, confidential space to share and feel genuinely heard.

I appreciate taking the step to open up and speak to someone can be daunting. If you would like to have a chat or meet up, please feel free to contact me on or 0118 378 5088.

Vicki Matthews

I joined the University in 2017, having previously worked in business for 20 years and, more recently, with children between the ages of 0-16 in various settings in South Oxfordshire. My current role as Executive Support Officer supporting teaching and learning activities within the School of Politics, Economics and International Relations draws on my previous experiences as a Personal Assistant and a Teaching Assistant, for me a perfect combination. As my own networks across the University have grown, this has helped me to develop a broad understanding of the variety of roles across the University and how various functions are required to interact to fulfil the needs of the wider university community.

In previous organisations I witnessed the downside to not seeking support, and the very real impact this can have on personal interactions in the workplace and at home. In becoming a Wellbeing Peer Support volunteer and promoting mental health awareness in the workplace, my aim is to ensure colleagues are aware that they have the support of the University should they wish to seek support and guidance, and that looking after their mental health is just as important as focusing on their physical health.

Gardening, walking and photography help me to unwind in my own time, and at work I am a regular visitor to the Harris Gardens and the lake. Whether you want to talk to someone behind closed doors or whilst taking in some fresh air, I would be happy to lend a listening ear. I consider myself personable and approachable and find that I am often the person colleagues turn to when they need a moment to unwind/reflect on a situation.

Please feel free to call me on 0118 378 8148 or e-mail I work full-time flexible hours with every other Wednesday as a non-working day.

Mark McClemont

I have been working at the University since 1987. I am currently in Technical Services with duties spread across scientific glassblowing and providing technical support for teaching laboratory practical classes based in Chemistry/SCFP.

Since 2005, I have been a member and activist for AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) which has involved TV and radio appearances, contributions to newspaper and magazine articles, conferences and Pride events. Stuff I'm into for relaxation and fun includes videogames (RPGs, FPSs, open-worlders); music (mostly indie, alternative, rock and metal) both live and via hi-fi; sci-fi and fantasy, curries, single malt whiskies and motorbikes with big, torquey engines. I have been through severe depression and recovery, coped with being different and the decades-long process of fully accepting what I am.

I offer a friendly, understanding and non-judgemental ear for any problems you may have even if you just wish to have a rant about something, or someone, that's bothering you. Feel free to call me: ext 7433 (glassblowing workshop), ext 7625 (Chemistry technicians' office) or email:

Jo Mortimer

I joined the University of Reading in April 2013 as an IT Project Manager, then changed to an IT Business Partner and I am now on secondment with the Planning and Strategy Office as a Change Manager. My role involves supporting staff through system, process and organisational changes.

I am a good listener and I feel that supporting my colleagues at the university is very important and is an opportunity to use the skills I have gained both inside and out of work.

Please feel free to get in touch with me via email

Kim Mountford

I have worked at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School for 17 years, predominantly as part of the ICMA Centre Admissions Team. I enjoy working with applicants, students and staff as part of an interesting and varied role. Outside of work, I am Mum to two children and I enjoy the active and sometimes unpredictable life this brings.

I have an understanding of how mental health issues can impact an individual's personal and professional life and I can offer an empathetic ear to anyone who wishes to talk confidentially. I appreciate the value of a safe space and am a non-judgemental listener and I hope to provide this to others.

You are welcome to contact me by e-mail or by phone 0118 378 6406.

My working hours are Tuesday & Friday (9-5pm); Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (9.45-2.20pm)

Lisa Saunders

I joined the University in August 2018, and my role is Senior Student Services Administrator for Student Services. I manage the reception desk in the Carrington Building which is a very busy reception for staff, students and visitors. Student Services covers a range of services for students and in the Carrington Building we have the Student Financial Support, International Student Advisory Team, Disability Advisory Team, Careers Services, Timetabling and Room Bookings, the Welfare Team, Counselling and Wellbeing to name a few. I deal with all types of questions relating to these services and students from all different countries and cultures.

Student Services is a hive of activity and at times it can be a very pressurized place with staff having to work longer hours, weekends for Open Evenings and Welcome/Enrolment week. I do try to ensure that reception remains a calm place where both students and staff feel they can come to ask questions, even if it is just to find the location of a building on campus.

I enjoy spending time with my family, watching my son play football at the weekend and I also play tennis for a local Tennis Club. I am an approachable person, who is happy to listen when someone feels they need to talk things through or just have a rant. I enjoy meeting new people and hate to see anyone upset or unhappy at work and this is the reason I have decided to become a Wellbeing Peer Support Volunteer. Please feel free to get in touch with me via email or phone 0118 378 6689.

Sarah Shears

I work in the JJT Support Centre, in Student Services, and my role entails overseeing the back office, behind-the-scenes administration and support, for academics and students. I started at the University in 2011 and have worked in the Graduation Office and Examination Team. All my roles have given me an understanding of the varied jobs and functions of staff on campus, and certainly of the differing peaks and troughs many of us face throughout the year.

I like to be involved with the community and I am a member of a local Rotary Club. I like challenging myself to events like triathlons. I also like travel, board games, being creative and socialising. Although I like to be busy, I'm a pretty laid back character.

I'm a firm believer that your health and wellbeing is important, especially at work, as many aspects of our lives can be affected if we're not OK. I value having someone to talk to, even if the matter seems irrational or trivial. I'm a non-judgemental listener, calm and laid back. Feel free to contact me for any issues - I can be contacted on Skype, by phone 0118 378 8460 or by email

Kerry Smith

I started working in the Alumni and Supporter Engagement Office in 2018 and have been in my current role as Database Assistant since November 2019. I am in the Development Services team which supports the Alumni and Fundraising team in the department with alumni data requirements. We also support other schools and departments across the University. In my free time, I enjoy walking my two sausage dogs, playing tennis and can sometimes be found volunteering at the local Parkrun event.

I have become very much aware of how our mental health fluctuates during the course of our lives (as experienced in my own life), and that we may find ourselves less able to cope where previously we have been able to. Unfortunately, it can still feel uncomfortable to ask for help when we are experiencing poor mental health, as there is still the belief out there that we should just be able to "get over it" on our own. As a result, I believe that many of us are suffering in silence, not knowing where or how to find help, when there is support out there.

I am very pleased to be part of this wonderful support network, and I am happy to provide a friendly, safe space to be heard, whatever is bothering you.

I would love the University to be a workplace where our mental health is discussed more openly and is accepted as a normal part of everyone's overall health and wellbeing.

You can contact me by email on or by telephone on ext 3903.

Marie Taylor

I joined the University in July 2016 as a Health and Safety Coordinator for the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science and the School of Mathematical Physical and Computational Science.

There are a number of reasons why I wanted to become a wellbeing peer support volunteer including personal experience and friends and colleagues who have confided in me when going through something difficult. Being able to understand and help people so they have somewhere to turn, and someone to talk to, who will listen and not judge, is important to me.

I like to keep active. I love gardening and being outside watching the wildlife. I also like reading and watching films.

Looking after yourself and your family is so important and whilst it may seem like there is no hope, there really is. That first step may be difficult, but after that it will get easier.

You can contact me via email or by phone 0118 378 5220.

Liz White

I came to Reading University as a student in 1986 and have been working here since 1996! Currently I am an Executive Support Administrator in SPCLS. My previous roles in the School have been as a researcher, interviewing, listening and supporting families with mental health issues such as postnatal depression and anxiety disorders, and as a PA to a Professor of Psychology and a Professor of Psychiatry!

Life can often throw up obstacles when we least expect them or when we are already up to capacity with other things. In 2014 I came back to work following compassionate leave after the sudden death of my son. Returning to work after a significant bereavement is an incredible challenge. Bereavement is something which will affect all of us at some time and I am passionate about supporting people coping with grief both in and out of work.

I am an experienced compassionate listener and feel Wellbeing Peer Support is incredibly important. There are a lot of local and national organisations that can help people not just with bereavement but with all sorts of pressures, stresses and mental health issues but it can be hard to know how to access the right thing for you. I am really excited to be involved with signposting, listening and support and am happy to help in any way I can. I'm on x5539 and

Rory Williams-Burrell

I currently work as a Trainee Technician at Reading University and started this role in November 2018. Prior to this, I studied archaeology at Reading from 2009 and worked in various projects from 2014 until my present posting. In my role as a technician I work with, and train, students in small groups which allows me to gain good rapport with them.

Over the past few years I have studied 'the psychology of happiness' by Oxford University's continuing education, 'the action for happiness' course which is run by volunteers around the country and a course in 'mindfulness' here at Reading. I have an open ear and am willing to provide the support I can to all. I can be contacted by email:


We want you to feel safe while talking to us, so you can tell us how you're really feeling. The only time we will break confidentiality is if you give us express permission or we are concerned that you may be at risk of harming yourself or others. We will not involve anyone else without your knowledge.

Wellbeing Peer Support volunteers are only available during work hours. If you need immediate support outside of work hours please contact the University's Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) (Confidential Care).