Family and Children Support Services (FaCSS)

FaCSS works to support the wellbeing of the pupils within our Multi Academy Trust, believing that positive mental health is fundamental in helping our children to be the best that they can be. We work with our children to help them recognise and understand their social and emotional needs and then support them in the very best ways that we are able.

Our aim is to help our children and families to develop and learn new ways to overcome challenge and difficulty so that they can thrive at school and at home, enjoy better relationships and develop resilience.

Services include child counselling, family support, music therapy and play therapy.

If your child’s school feels that any of our services might benefit your child or your family, they will discuss this with you to see whether you would like to start working with one of our team. With your consent, the school will then work with you in completing a referral form to gather all the necessary information that will ensure the most appropriate support is given.


Our Team

Sarah Hurwood Head of Service 
Melissa May Administrative Assistant 

Karen Bowden Family Support Worker 
Jackie Clarke Child Counsellor 
Sue Fahey Child Counsellor 
Anna Griffiths Music Therapist 
Bernadette Letchford Play Therapist 
Juhi Neyland Play Therapist


Therapists and Counsellors engaged by FaCSS undergo professional and safeguarding checks in line with Safer Recruitment practice prior to employment to ensure that they can safely and ethically work with your child. These include:
DBS Enhanced Certificate with Barred List Check
Childcare Disqualification Declaration, where appropriate
Suitable qualifications to practice, and the belonging to an appropriate professional organisation meaning that they are bound to abide by its code of conduct and ethical guidelines, and receive the recommended amount of clinical supervision
Registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and have a Privacy Notice
Have valid third party public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance


Sarah Hurwood Head of FaCSS

A Headteacher for over 20 years, I recognise the absolute need for schools to have good and positive relationships with their children and their families. Communication between home and school is key to helping our young people thrive, because by understanding what is happening for them and getting a sense of how they are feeling, we are more able to identify what we can do to make their world feel a little better.

In order for our children to flourish and be the best that they can be, we need to nurture, care for and support them as best as we are able and sometimes, to do this, we need to look a little beyond what our schools are able to deliver themselves.

Our work, if wanted, can extend beyond that of just the child, to that of the family unit, where sometimes supporting parents with some of the challenges they face helps family life feel easier to manage.

My role as Head of FaCSS, is to liaise with schools and our therapists and counsellors to try to ensure we are able to join up and provide specialist support to any children, parents and families that might need some additional help or guidance.

Schools work directly with the children, parents and family to determine what might help and with parental consent, make a referral into FaCSS. These referrals are then carefully considered to ensure that the right need is addressed in the right way and by the right person.

FaCSS overriding aim and ambition is to make life feel a little bit easier for our children and their families. We hope that by listening, supporting and caring we can lessen worry, stress and anxiety and make things feel a little more ok.

All our work is in confidence and carried out with the utmost sensitivity and discretion.

Melissa May Administrative Assistant

After graduating I completed a post-graduate Diploma in Management Studies before starting work within the University of London. I took a career break to raise my children and then returned to a support role within education as I enjoy facilitating an organisation to run smoothly and efficiently, especially when I know how much its services can benefit others. At FaCSS it is fulfilling to be able to contribute to a team that makes a real difference to the lives of children and their families. 

Karen Bowden Family Support Worker

I have been working in this role with FaCSS since 1997.  I have nearly 30 years' experience working with children and families both within a residential social care and education setting. I hold a City and Guilds Certificate in Health and Social Care and have attended numerous training courses through the years.

My role is to support vulnerable children and families and those families needing additional support. This help can cover a wide range of issues that impact the family including debt, housing, parenting, SEN and mental health.

My aim is to improve outcomes for families and give them opportunities to build on their strengths.


Our Therapists

 Bernadette Letchford Play Therapist

My name is Bernadette Letchford and I am a qualified Play Therapist registered with the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) which holds Professional Standard Authority accreditation.

I have been working with children and families for over 25 years in various educational and therapeutic settings. I had an educational background gaining QTS and a BA (Hons) in Education and Early Childhood Education in the UK. I taught in primary schools both in England and in my home country (Hungary) for several years before completing my Masters Degree in Non-Directive Play Therapy at York University in 2010.

 I have been part of FaCSS, and its predecessor the LDG, since 2013 and helped to establish school-based play therapy in many of the schools within the Trust.

 I really love my job and I am fully committed to helping children and their families gain better understanding of themselves and how to relate to each other more positively.

 I am also a mother of two teenage children which, I feel, provides me with certain insights into the difficulties and complexities of bringing up children and helps me to be more congruent with parents.

 In my spare time I like walking, gardening, knitting and being with my family. I am also a keen yoga enthusiast which helps me to slow down and appreciate the moment. During the pandemic I have taken up running, which I am beginning to enjoy more and more.

 Jacqueline Clarke Counsellor

Hi, my name is Jacqueline Clarke.

I am a qualified counsellor and a member of the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists).

I have worked in mainstream and special education for over 15 years.  In addition to this, I have worked in the voluntary sector .

I believe that everyone is a unique and dynamic human being.  From the therapeutic relationship that is non-judgmental and empathic, emerges a self awareness and inner resourcefulness that bings growth and change.

My training is intergrative so that I can work flexibly drawing on different approaches working creatively and visually to suit each young person.

I have a passion to help children to work through their challenges to reach their full potential in a safe and confidential space.

As a registered member of the BACP I adhere to a strict code of ethics which includes on-going supervision and continuing professional development.  I must complete a minimum of 30 hours CPD per year.

I have an enhanced DBS Certificate which is required to work with children and vulnerable adults.

Relevant Qualifications

Dip H.E. Counselling Roehampmton University

 Sue Fahey Counsellor

Hi, my name is Sue Fahey.

I am a qualified therapeutic counsellor and am a member of the NCS (National Counselling Society).  

I have worked in mainstream and special education for over twenty years.  In addition to this, I have also worked in the voluntary sector.

The relationship between myself (counsellor) and young person is a unique and special one, created on a foundation of trust and confidentiality.

I am able to provide a warm, supportive, safe and confidential space where thoughts, feelings and emotions can be explored.

It is my belief that by offering an empathic, non-judgmental and authentic relationship healing can take place.

My training is integrative which means I can tailor the therapy to the needs of each individual.  I also offer person centred art and play sessions for children.  Play is the natural medium for children to ‘act out’ their experiences, helping them to explore and make sense of their inner world.  Raising confidence, self-esteem and building resilience. 

As a registered member of the National Counselling Society (NCS) I adhere to a strict code of ethics which includes on-going supervision and continuing professional development.  I must complete a minimum of 30 hours continuing professional development per year in order to keep my practise of the highest standard possible.

I have an enhanced DBS Certificate which is required to work with children and vulnerable adults.

Relevant Qualifications

Certificate in Counselling Skills in the Development of Learning

Certificate in Counselling Theory

Advanced Certificate in Counselling Skills

Advanced Dip in Therapeutic Counselling (Counselling & Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body)

Speech & Language Support for 11-16 yrs (ELKLAN)

Certificate – Training Programme for Level 3/4 Children’s Workforce Development Council

Supporting Verbal Children with ASD (ELKLAN)

Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools

Some of my most recent continuing professional development has included: -

Tackling the Crisis in Mental Health for Children and Young People

Narcissism & Echoism


Connection before Correction – A Trauma Informed Workshop

Developing Metacognition & Self-Regulation in the classroom

Sensory Approaches for Learners with Autism

7 Types of Childhood Abuse

Working with Sand Trays in Counselling

Awareness of Mental Health Problems

Working creatively with the Inner Child in Counselling.

Existential Perspective

Coronavirus Trauma Dynamics

I am passionate about the work I do and feel it is a real privilige to be witness to each young person’s story.

Anna Griffiths Music therapist

I am a HCPC and BAMT registered music therapist and I completed my training in 2013 at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. I have been a fully qualified practitioner for seven years facilitating individual and group music therapy sessions in SEN and mainstream settings around the Epping Forest area. Music therapy is an evidence based clinical intervention using music to help support and promote a persons well-being by using improvisation, composition and singing amongst other musical methods.

My main instruments are piano and voice, both of which I use very often within my music therapy practice. I also play ukulele which features most often in my clinical work. My experience lies mainly with children and young people on the autistic spectrum, have a diagnosis of PMLD or need support with behaviour, communication or socialising with others. I also work with children who are hospice users or have long-term, life limiting illness including childhood cancer. 

Juhi Neyland Play and filial therapist and counsellor

I am a Child Centered Play and Filial Therapist registered through the British Association of Play Therapists. My Hertfordshire based practice is accredited by the Professional Standards Agency. I hold an enhanced DBS, professional insurance and I'm Clinically Supervised by a BAPT approved Supervisor.

Qualifications & Training

Masters in Play Therapy from University of Roehampton, London

Intensive Training in Filial Therapy

Parent Child Relationship Therapy

Play Therapy is combination of creative therapies such as art, music & drama. It is also a way of helping children and young people express their feelings and deal with their emotional problems, using play as the main communication tool. Play Therapy helps children in a variety of ways. Children receive emotional support and can learn to understand more about their own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes they may re-enact or play out traumatic or difficult life experiences in order to make sense of their past and cope better with their future. Children may also learn to manage relationships and conflicts in more appropriate ways.

Filial Therapy is a therapeutic approach, which incorporates family therapy and play therapy to help parents learn basic skills from play therapy to enhance relationships at home. I tailor my approach to the child's individual personality and experience; after a referral and initial assessment meeting, I work with children for up to two years on a consistent weekly basis. I am available for home visits.