Meet the team

Matt Ellis Principal

A very grand title! But I class myself as a learner. Everyone who comes to the college has something to teach me so we all learn from each other. I work hard to keep the resources coming in and supervise the team.

I am passionate that services should be designed by the people that use them and their voices should be heard and taken seriously.

I also facilitate a few courses which I love doing!

Rachel Dunn – Co-ordinator Kirklees

I love working at the College, meeting all our learners and watching them take positive steps to move forward in their lives is a real privilege.  Our bunch of volunteers are amazing and it is an honor to work alongside them everyday and see how much they inspire and support others.  I feel truly humbled to be part to the team. My role is really varied which I like, but largely I am responsible for putting the Kirklees Prospectus together, which is a big task and keeps me out of trouble!

Anna Kilshaw – Co-ordinator Kirklees

I work with the staff and volunteer team to develop and co-ordinate the timetable of courses we offer, with a focus on the Kirklees area. I love being part of the College and I’ve enjoyed getting to know all the wonderful people involved. I’m constantly learning from you and being inspired by you all! I particularly like the focus we have at the College on working together, mutual support and drawing on people’s strengths, and I feel lucky to be part of a community of people helping each other in this way.

My working days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday mornings.

Nicky Marran – Recovery Coach

A warm hello from me! I’m Nicky and recently joined the Recovery College in March 2024.

My working background has always centred around education and mental wellbeing, mainly in the third sector. I love working alongside people, listening and learning from others experiences, therefore in joining the team here I feel as though I have found my work tribe! To look after my own mental well-being, I love getting creative, especially interior design and upcycling furniture. I also enjoy being in the outdoors and visit my birthplace, the Isle of Man for my fix of sea air and countryside when I can.

The Recovery College really aligns with my values, believing that we all have individual experiences and strengths we can offer one another. I am really looking forward to meeting you in the near future.

Sandra Brook – Administrator, Kirklees

I’m thrilled to join the Recovery College team and am looking forward to meeting you all. My role here is administration and I’m here to help.  I’m a local lass, but have spent much of my life abroad, living in both the Netherlands and Egypt. I still love to travel and my hobbies (aka wellness tools) include gardening, scrabble, walking and going to antique/flea markets, where I scout for miniature perfume bottles to add to my ever-growing collection!

Sarah Walinski-Kiehl – Co-ordinator Calderdale

I have been working for Calderdale & Kirklees Recovery & Wellbeing College since May 2020. I started as a Peer Project Support Worker, during this time I supported learners to get active to improve both their physical and mental health, which I really enjoyed. I have worked with some amazing learners and volunteers.

I have now undertaken the post of Recovery & Wellbeing College Co-ordinator, Calderdale. I am really excited by this new opportunity; I have wanted to work more directly with people who are struggling with mental health issues, having experienced mental health difficulties myself in the past. I believe that the reason I recovered from my own struggles is so that I can help others. I hope to support people to reach their goals and to use my experience to help people in their own mental health recovery journey.

My working days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

Andrew Norfolk – Administrator, Calderdale

Hi, my name is Andrew. I’ve just joined the college (September 23).  My role here is administration for Calderdale and I’m here to help. I’m local but I have lived and worked in other parts of the UK.

I’m a keen cyclist as I come from a cycling family. For me cycling is for everyone, whether you wear the lycra or not.  Also I enjoy cooking and reading. I have a musical background as I learnt piano and church organ when I was younger, and enjoy lots of different sorts of music- classical, jazz, rock.

Sara Rose – Creative Practitioner and facilitator

Hi, my name is Sara, I have struggled with poor mental health since a teenager and was finally diagnosed with bipolar at age 40 (over 15 years ago). I have attended the Recovery College in Calderdale, and in Brighton where I used to live, as a learner which has helped me so much that I was able to volunteer as a co facilitator and later as a tutor.

I have used creativity to support my mental wellbeing throughout my life. I usually have a few projects on the go with differing levels of skill and concentration needed, so I always something creative to do. I try to incorporate some mindful techniques when creating too, getting absorbed into my creation and trying to avoid intrusive thoughts. I love to develop ideas to an end product to give as a gift for friends and family.

James Pearson – Peer Project Worker

“I have been involved with creative activities for nearly 15 years, and have volunteered for the Recovery College for around 5 years.  I love being creative myself, but also inspiring others to explore their own creativity whilst getting some therapeutic benefit at the same time.  As someone who struggles with my own long term mental health problems, I know how important having the freedom to learn a new skill and express yourself artistically can be.”

Karen Beveridge – Peer Project Worker

I first discovered the Recovery college as a learner back in 2017 when I started attending as a learner. I remember feeling lost and full of life limiting beliefs. It’s fair to say that attending the Recovery college has changed my life, giving me opportunities to develop and progress. For the past year I have been working as a tutor in the community, which I love. But coming to the Recovery college as a peer project support worker has felt like coming home.

Laura – Peer Project Worker

I feel like this is the workplace I have been searching for all my adult life! One where you feel listened to, that’s proactive and cares about everyone they work with. I’ve picked up some skills along the way which will support me in my role. I’ve been a youth worker, an educational eco-coordinator, a cheesecake maker, special education teacher and now a yoga and meditation leader. Through my own road to recovery from recurrent depression I have experienced many types of therapeutic interventions. All this pooled together means I have a unique box of wellbeing tools, which I am very excited to share with my community.

Gary – Peer Project Worker

Hi my name is Gaz.  I have worked  with the Recovery College since about 2016 on a voluntary basis. I love working for the college and get excited seeing how our learners grow and develop. My favourite course is the wellness planning courses (A plan for living well). I also help run courses like beginners chess and eat well for less. I’m a massive sci-fi nerd and love Doctor Who and Star Trek. If I’m not at home you’ll usually find me at my allotment. Looking forward to seeing you soon Gaz.

Hannah-may – Peer Project Worker

Hello, my name is Hannah-may. I first heard about the Recovery College a few years ago from a friend. At the time, I was severely struggling with poor mental health & addiction. In 2021 I found 12 step recovery and when I became well enough I approached The Recovery College to see if they’d be interested in running a course I’d developed called ‘Rooting into Place’. Arriving at the college and meeting the team was so warming, I wanted to get more involved. One of the things I love about Peer Mentoring at the Recovery College is seeing the transformation in the learners who study at the college. Watching their transformation is something that truly helps me in my own recovery.

Ali – Peer Project Worker

I’m Ali. I discovered the  recovery colleges back in 2020 when my confidence had hit rock bottom and I needed some support and work on my resilience. Historically and ongoing I am a professionally trained fashion designer, specializing in childrenswear and commercial costume, working over 20 Years in industry here in West Yorkshire. I also have my own bespoke print and upholstery business ‘Alison Morrish’ based in Huddersfield and have recently shown off my skills on TV! ( BBC 1-Make It At Market) I have also spent time as a school mentor and community craft tutor.

The college means a lot to me and I want to shout it out to the world!

Ashish- Peer project worker

Ashish – Peer Project Worker

Hello, my names Ashish which means “blessings” in Sanskrit. I do however prefer to be called Ash and I’m one of the new Peer Project Workers. My background is working in criminal justice and social benefits, so working at the College is all very new to me. I’ve been made to feel very welcome by my colleagues and learners and I’ve already undertaken some courses as a learner myself. I’m looking forward to co-producing some new courses, enabling learners to get the very best out of their learning experience.
I have my own lived experience of chronic physical health, mental health and addiction and I feel empowered to take on this new Peer support role. In my spare time, I can usually be found watching or listening to music, it’s my escape. I particularly love music from the 80’s, 90’s & indie. I look forward to meeting you all.

Laura-  Peer Project Worker

I’m Laura and I’m delighted to have started working at the college this week 😊(April 2024).

I began my journey with the recovery college in 2020 when I was at a dark place in with my MH.  I started with online courses learning coping mechanisms, to understand more about MH and most importantly that I was not alone. I slowly began to attend the college in person and I cannot thank everyone enough for their help and support.  The other learners, friends of, volunteers and staff are all so kind, supportive and encouraging.  They have helped me beyond measure on my journey to wellbeing and I now hope to do be able to do the same for others whilst working here.  I look forward to getting to know you all.

Erika –  Recovery Coach

Hi, my name is Erika and I have recently joined the Kirklees Recovery College as a Recovery Coach and am really excited to start collaborating with everyone to further develop the amazing curriculum here. I started my Career in Teaching and have worked across Education and Health, and my passion is supporting people to live well. I have had a significant Recovery Journey myself having been diagnosed with Cancer and am a Carer.  I’m look forward to working alongside all the Learners, Volunteers and Staff Team.

Our Team also includes our AMAZING volunteers and Friends Of the College

There about 30-40 of us working here. Many of us have experienced mental health problems and we are passionate about the College and its values. You can find out more about us here and our stories of how we have become well:

Read some of our stories