How Clear Sky was formed
“The inspiration to set up Clear Sky came following a difficult personal experience in my own childhood. My mother passed away in 2002 leaving behind 4 children. Being the eldest I had to take on the mother’s role which came with many challenges, and being a teenage girl growing up without a mum was really tough. My little sister was only 9 at the time and, being so young, she found it difficult to come to terms with what had happened. As a result, we all struggled in our own way to come to terms with the grief and experienced varying degrees of mental health challenges.
I often wondered what our lives would been like if we’d had someone who could help explore the confusing feelings attached to our situation when we were still making sense of it all, at the time when we needed it the most.
There are too many children out there suffering at the hands of circumstances beyond their control. We passionately believe that the world would be a better place if adults spent more time playing with children, developing strong and healthy relationships through play to help children feel safe in this world. Clear Sky is dedicated to provide children with age appropriate and creative support at the time when they are still learning about life through their experiences, and working out how to become the best version of themselves. We believe in the Power of Play to transform young lives.”
To help children develop good emotional health by providing Play & Creative Arts Therapy services in primary schools, so that they feel happier in themselves, have a greater understanding of the world around them and to help them understand that they are special
Meet the Team
Clear Sky has a small but dedicated team based at The Manor House in Little Wittenham, as well as our therapeutic team who travel around Oxfordshire and the surrounding area to deliver Play for Pupils, Play for Parents and Play for Professionals.
Experience: I never had a really clear idea of what direction my life was going to take. I knew that I loved working with children and had done so since leaving school. I went on to do a degree in Business Administration and then back to working with children again! I set up Clear Sky in 2010 when I was 23 years old as I was inspired by my own life experiences to help other children and young people who were struggling as I had. I then went on to train as a Play Therapist so I could better understand the needs of children and young people. I spent a long time immersing myself in the world of Play Therapy, getting to grips with the real experiences of children and families in Oxfordshire through delivering one-to-one and group therapy, parent workshops and training. I am currently completing my MA in Play Therapy – the learning never stops! I am now a spokesperson for the charity, devising and innovating new ways of helping children and families and putting children at the centre of everything we do.
Passion: Having experienced first-hand difficulties in my own childhood I feel that I have the right understanding and compassion to help me develop the services of Clear Sky putting solid therapeutic thinking at the heart of the organisation . I feel that children deserve someone to offer them some time and space ‘to be’ without judgement, and with full acceptance and compassion. I wish there had been more provision around when I was younger, and so I strive to ensure that Clear Sky provide the right support for children at the most crucial time of their lives. I am so proud of all that the Clear Sky team have achieved over the last several years and we hope to help many more families on the rest of our journey.
Experience: I am Clear Sky’s mascot and I represent all the children who have received Play & Creative Arts Therapy through Clear Sky or will in the future. I haven’t had the easiest start in life, but with the help of Clear Sky life seems to be getting better day by day!
Passion: I used to find it difficult to get on with my family and make friends, but since I have been seeing my Therapist we have found new ways for me to express myself through play and creativity. I just love playing – not only is it fun, but it makes me feel better and closer to the people around me! Everybody should learn the Power of Play!
Work Experience: I have 15 years creative and marketing experience across youth and children’s brands. I began my career in London marketing agencies where I enjoyed the fast paced and exhilarating agency life, managing teams to deliver creative and challenging campaigns for some of the most exciting youth brands.
After 10 years and a marriage proposal, I left London to start a new life in the Oxfordshire countryside with my husband. Whilst ‘taking time out’ to be a Mum, I launched an antique and interiors retail business in Henley-on-Thames. After 7 years I missed the buzz of being part of a team and accepted a marketing consultancy contract with the organic baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen, a business with an ethical outlook that prioritises health, listens to parents and draws inspiration from real kids. After completing a 3-year contract, I began looking for the next new and exciting opportunity. It was important for me to find something I really believed in – life’s too short to do work that doesn’t matter to you.
Passion: When I applied for the role of Head of Clear Sky Academy my family had been through a difficult time and suffered a terrible loss. I had witnessed the devastating effects that a serious illness and bereavement can have, especially on small children who do not have the experience to understand or the emotional maturity to begin to deal with their feelings. This was the role I was looking for. This was something I believed in. These were people who made a positive difference!
Work Experience: After completing a degree in Social Psychology and working with adults with learning difficulties during my studies, my career took me in a different direction and I moved into Marketing Communications. I worked for several years agency side with several automotive, telecoms and IT clients before hopping over to the other side of the fence to work client-side for a major materials handling manufacturer. However, having had my own children I was keen to do something that I felt really made a difference to children’s lives. I went on to work part-time as a Learning Support Assistant at an Infant School and after this moved on to doing Marketing and Business Support for the Children’s Centres for Action for Children. I have found that my background in Marketing, being a parent myself, working with schools, parents and support services for a charity under the local authority has given me some valuable experience which has prepared me well for this role.
Passion: I am so excited to have joined such a passionate and knowledgeable team at a time when I feel we can make a real difference. I am looking forward to seeing how we can develop opportunities further and am confident that Clear Sky can make a real difference in children’s lives at a time when the problems faced by children seem to be on the increase and services are being reduced. I am hopeful that with such a great team and an increasing service offering we will be in a position to raise more funds and market these more widely, resulting in an increased number of children benefitting from better long-term emotional health and wellbeing.
Experience: I have over 20 years experience working in the arts, particularly in festival and event management. I was Chair of Trustees at my children’s Pre-School for several years and during that time learnt a vast amount about Early Years education. Having been self-employed for the last 9 years I found myself looking for the next challenge.
Passion: With a drama degree and background working in the arts, I am passionate about the importance arts and culture plays in our society. As a mother of two, I have seen first -hand how play can enrich children’s lives. I am very excited to be joining the Clear Sky team and finding more time to play!
Clear Sky is a Member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and as such we are bound by its ethical framework and guidelines for good practice, as well as being subject to its professional conduct procedures.
The Therapeutic Team
We currently have 12 qualified therapists and 2 trainees. Therapists are qualified Play Therapists, Dramatherapists, Dance & Movement Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Child Psychotherapists and Art Therapists and have a breadth of experience equipping them to deal with often complex social and emotional issues.
Meet the Trustees
Clear Sky has a dedicated and dynamic board of trustees who oversee the strategy, governance and implementation of our Charitable Objectives.
Experience: Nicole is a mum to two young boys and a passionate Marketer who loves to build brands by thinking like a child! She is a family brand expert with almost 20 years’ experience of understanding consumers and building meaningful relationships.
Nicole is a high-energy leader with experience of scaling a high growth business profitably into international markets. The first full-time employee at Ella’s Kitchen, with only 6 products distributed to 2 major retailers in the UK and a turnover of £1.5m, Nicole initially worked out of Paul Lindley’s children’s playroom – founder / CEO of Ella’s Kitchen. As part of the strategic board, Nicole was responsible for creating one brand inside and out, across all markets – looking after the brand reputation and company as Ella’s grew to over 50 people, in 12 different countries, with 100 products and a turnover that doubled every year to over £100m.
Nicole is currently Owner and Head of the Parade at Naughty Elephants – a brand marketing consultancy offering senior teams support.
Passion: What’s really important to Nicole is that she is passionate about children and wanting them to have maximum fun in discovering the world around them, whilst believing that they can achieve anything they put their minds to and be whoever they want to be.
“At Clear Sky we recognise that every child needs at least one person in the world who is crazy about them. I am so proud to be a Trustee and chair the talented team at Clear Sky who believe so wholeheartedly in the Power of Play to make a real difference in the lives of young children.”
Experience: Kelly is a mum to two young children and has had an active and hands on involvement in the nursery her children attended. This has lead her to a good understanding of the charity sector, it’s opportunities, challenges, reporting requirements and value for money financial views.
Kelly is a qualified Management Accountant with 15 years’ experience in Blue Chip organisations, most recently working in supply chain at Johnson & Johnson. Her focus is always on simplifying processes so that more money can be spent on activities which add real value.
Passion: Kelly is passionate about letting children be children and finding ways to help them avoid the rush and external pressures of modern life, be it through reading, free play, outdoor adventures or in this case, Play Therapy.
“I am excited to be part of the growth of Clear Sky and privileged to work with such a talented and committed team.”
Experience: John is the Artistic Director of the Orchestra of St John, founded in 1967. He is a father and grandfather, who set up the Charity ‘Music for Autism’ – taking his orchestra to play to children with learning difficulties and Special Educational Needs.
Passion: “Not only is Play Therapy obviously a wonderful way to support children who need help, but Sophia has been inspired to start the charity and she has brought it so far in such a short time.”
Experience: Mark has a background in engineering and business development and is currently heading the team at Tesla Motors UK. Mark co-founded Clear Sky with Sophia and has been an integral part in supporting the charity to get to the point we are at now.
Passion: Mark strongly believes that the charity has demonstrated its ability and dedication to help those young people most in need without any waste.
“The strong team is headed by a fantastic CEO with true vision for helping every young person meet their full potential.”
Clear Sky is proud to work in partnership with Big Toes Little Toes. This partnership is founded on shared mutual charitable aims to reach as many children and families as possible with the power of play and attachment to support emotional and mental wellbeing. We are passionate about supporting parents and carers to be the best they can be through strengthening early relationships and maximising child outcomes. Our partnership work is based on the latest family-friendly research and we aim to translate rigorous scientific findings into fun, playful and respectful programmes and approaches for children and families.
In our work together as partners, we share the same Rainbow Values you see below.
Our Rainbow Values
We are a mindful team
We let every child shine
We create safe spaces
We are playful
We never, ever give up