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 harness the power of play to enhance emotional wellbeing of children and their families, by providing qualified therapeutic support and delivering professional training based on the very latest research.
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 to join Clear Sky 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!
Experience: I have always had an interest in working with children because I love their playful energy and enthusiasm! During my studies I volunteered in a special educational needs primary school before going on to do a degree in Drama & Physical Theatre. Whilst doing this I taught children’s drama classes and following graduation became a drama facilitator at a day centre for adults and young people with a variety of needs. Here I was able to see the benefits of drama and movement first-hand on reducing anxiety and building relationships. This inspired me to undertake a Masters in Drama and Movement Therapy where I was able to explore my passion to support children to reach their full potential. I was delighted to become part of the Clear Sky Team as a Therapist and am very excited to undertake the role of Head of Therapeutic Thinking where I can continue to work with children, but also educate others in supporting children’s emotional wellbeing.
Passion: I am passionate about giving every child the chance to shine and embrace their individuality! I fully believe in the power of both play and creativity, and their ability to support children to work through positive and challenging life experiences. I am passionate about providing children with the right support to enable them to reach their full potential.
Work Experience: I began my working career by completing a qualification in Travel, Leisure & Tourism. I worked in a busy office as well as being fortunate enough to travel and see many places around the world! I then became a Senior Account Manager for a large corporate IT business for 10 years, before taking some time out to stay at home with my children. More recently I have had the privilege of working in an Early Years setting supporting young children and assisting 1:1 with children that have additional needs. Ready for my next challenge and wanting to utilise my office and organisational skills again, I joined Clear Sky!
Passion: From my own difficult childhood experience I understand the importance of children needing the required emotional support and was touched by Sophia’s story. I am delighted to part of the Clear Sky Team. Everyone is so enthusiastic and I am confident that together we will continue to make a real difference to many children’s emotional wellbeing.
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. Therapists are registered professionals qualified in Play Therapy, Dramatherapy, Dance & Movement Psychotherapy, Counselling, Child Psychotherapy and Art Therapy. They 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: Andrew Priestley is qualified in Industrial and Organisational Psychology and is an award winning business coach, Top 100 UK entrepreneur mentor, bestselling author, publisher and speaker. He is based in London, lives in Kent and works with clients worldwide.
Passion: “I started life as a school teacher in a remote country primary school. Even then I taught children who were battling complex adult scenarios where they simply lacked the life experience to understand or process what was happening at home. Children either withdrew or acted out and showed up as disruptive problem students. I think they still do. While I understood the legitimate pressures on teachers I was very fortunate to have mentors and word class role models who developed a profound sense that childhood is precious. And mentors who challenged me to find the time and resources to help those children.
“I left teaching after ten years to start my own business in marketing, took time out to obtain my psych degree and then have 30 year career in business consulting. The overarching theme has to help my clients improve their business so that it genuinely provides lifestyle benefits to their families.
“I am deeply honoured to work with Clear Sky Children’s Charity and see this as remarkable challenge to contribute to this significant charity devoted to the idea that childhood is precious.”
Experience: Graham is a qualified Accountant and has held senior finance positions in medium sized companies, in particular in the book publishing industry. He was also a secondary school Governor for eight years.
Passion: Graham found out about the great work that Clear Sky was doing with children who are having difficulties coping with life. He was keen to provide support, particularly in helping Clear Sky achieve its aims for a strong, sustainable financial footing.
“I am impressed with the dedication and professionalism of Sophia and all the team at Clear Sky in providing therapy services for children, particularly when such services are hard to access in the current economic climate.”
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 UK based charity big toes little toes to deliver accredited training to professional practitioners, providing attachment programme skills to work with parents, carers and children from primary age up to teens.
This partnership has been built on shared 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. We aim to translate rigorous scientific findings into fun, playful and respectful approaches for children and families.
We strive to work with charity partners who we believe share Clear Sky’s rainbow values…
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