Meet the Team
Claire Taylor – Service Co-Ordinator
I'm Claire and I have been lucky enough to work at Star since 2011. It's the biggest privilege to work together with children and young people when they need our support. I have always felt that the needs of children and young people experiencing bereavement and loss are too often over looked. We are here to change that in the Wakefield District. I have a BSc hons in Psychology and a certificate in management and leadership. I have completed lots of different training including attachment narrative therapy, understanding children and young people's mental health, research methods and many more which all helps me to ensure my practice is the best it can be to support positive outcomes for children and young people. At the moment I am training to be a Neuro Linguistic Processing (NLP) Practitioner and a children and young people's yoga teacher!
The children and young people at Star inspire me every day. At home I'm mum to my daughter and 4 fur babies, 2 dogs and 2 cats. I like walks, having fun, nature, the sea and chocolate biscuits amongst many other things as there are so many great things in the world 🙂 I don't like being cold, big moths or green beans.
Helen Elford - Bereavement Practitioner
I am Helen and I have been a Bereavement Practitioner with Star since 2017, where I help support children, young people and families when somebody special has died. Grief is a complicated, messy process and my aim is to gently guide families through this painful journey whilst providing them with the skills necessary to better manage their feelings, which in turn will enable young people to move forward in a healthy way and empower them to achieve their goals.
I have a background in Psychology and Counselling and I have also been a Samaritan’s Listener for many years, working in suicide prevention. More importantly I have a deep empathic understanding of personal bereavement and its impact on families as my husband died suddenly in 2015, leaving me a widow with young children. I feel that this has equipped me with an invaluable insight into the work of Star and what can be achieved when children and young people are given the time, space and support needed to journey through their grief.
Star Bereavement is a remarkable and inspiring organisation to be a part of and I love being a part of such a great team. There is such a shortage of bereavement organisations specifically aimed at children and young people within the Wakefield area, which means that Star’s work is vitally important. Furthermore, our Star families make this such a rewarding role as you can witness the life changing, positive impact our work has on young people across the district.
Rachael Taylor - Bereavement Practitioner
I’m Rachael and I have volunteered for Star for 5 years, supporting bereaved children and young people. I am very excited to say that I am joining the team in a full-time role from December 2020 as a Bereavement Practitioner! It is my passion to help children and young people find a way to navigate through the difficult healing process of grief. My aim is to give hope to the young people I work with and to encourage them to fulfil their potential. I am currently close to completing my counselling diploma becoming a qualified counsellor and I use my skills in enabling the young people I work with in achieving a happy and fulfilled life, where they feel empowered, listened to and valued.
Children and young people often have the answers to how they are feeling, my role is to enable them to express themselves and to help them understand and cope with a disorganised and unsettling time in their lives. I believe no one should be at a disadvantage due to suffering from the unpredictability of events that trigger grief. I love working for Star, it is filled with wonderful, experienced and caring people, who work hard in providing a service to support young people across the Wakefield district.
Emily Sayers – Bereavement Peer Support Worker
I’m Emily, and I am due to join the team in December as a Bereavement Peer Support Worker. I am very excited to become part of the team and I am passionate and committed to working with and supporting children and young people. I have studied hard and worked towards securing a role in this sector for many years.
I studied Child Development at GCSE level, I then studied Health and Social Care at level 3 Extended Diploma at college, and I then went onto study Childhood Studies BA (hons) at Leeds Beckett University. As a young child, I experienced bereavement, and I required intervention from services as a result of this.
The help and support I received was massively appreciated and enabled me to understand more about the loss I had experienced, as well as providing me with the mental tools, which enabled me to progress forward. I am passionate about bringing people together, to support one another, enabling them to realise they are not alone in the way they are feeling, and the feelings they are experiencing are all normal. I am proud to be part of a team who are promoting positive outcomes for children and young people.
Laura Ward-Spensley – Senior Bereavement Practitioner
I’m Laura and have recently started at Star Bereavement! It’s such a warm and welcoming place to be. Before that, I have spent a lot of time working with children and young people in a variety of roles from working in schools to children’s care homes and most recently working within Children and Adolescent Mental Health services. I have a BSc in Psychology with Counselling and recently went back to University to get my Masters in Psychotherapy and Counselling.
Outside of work you would find me either reading, making my own clothes, or hanging upside down in an aerial hoop! I am a cat mummy to two cats who make me very happy, apart from when they bring in live birds and frogs into my house for me to chase!
After experiencing my own family deaths in the last few years, I have become increasingly aware of how lonely and isolating being with your own grief is – it’s made me passionate to break down that barrier and let’s be honest…stigma about talking about our grief. I believe grief and loss is something we grow with and learn to manage, after all grief isn’t the day they die but every day without that person being here, the pain may never go but it can get easier with time. I believe Star Bereavement can help with that and I look forward to working with young people in supporting them in that journey of understanding their grief.
Andy Worthington - Volunteer
I’m Andy and I’ve been a volunteer Counsellor at Star since October 2021. My background goes back to me being office based for many years but decided to train as an actor in the early 90’s. Whilst training I worked in Children's Theatre and moved on to help run a Young Children's Theatre Company for a number of years which I thoroughly enjoyed and found personally rewarding, working in some challenging areas and with youngsters, some with varying degrees of special needs. This made me feel I wanted to work with youngsters and Counselling has felt the right career for me.
I found Counselling helped me through personal issues I had and has really been the job for me for many years as I feel I can make a connection with both adults and youngsters who need to be understood from their point of view.
I still work in a number of areas training Communication Skills, Equality & Diversity. I find this really interesting in how we communicate with each other, which goes on to how we listen to others which is so useful when listening to young people who have lost someone special in their lives and being there to get an understanding that we are all individual and different.
I have had my own personal loss of parents in recent years and more recently close friends. I know that grief affects us all differently, no right or wrong time and no one size fits all.
I’m really enjoying being a part of Star and I’ll soon qualify in my Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling to be a fully qualified Counsellor.
I enjoy walking, swimming, sunshine & holidays. Love motor racing and I usually pop over to Spain for a week for Formula one.
Lorraine Bastow - Project Support Officer
Lorraine provides admin and project support for the Star Team, anything from keeping on top of the finances to ordering resources and making sure we have a nice place to work from. Lorraine’s working life has been working across multiple organisations in an administrative capacity, often supporting vulnerable groups and based within the Wakefield Community, but her passion has always been in providing services to children and young people in the communities they live.