Meet the Team

Anna Maria Gascoigne

I am forever Jay and Harley Gascoigne’s mam, I launched the Jay Lennon Fund initially to raise £5,000 after my son passed, I wanted to do something for mental health and chose Mind.  With the help of so many generous people, the target was achieved within weeks. At this time I became so overwhelmed by the volume of stories, similar to the experience suffered by my son Jay, from others with mental illness whose voices were not being heard. It inspired me to launch this legacy in my son’s name. Hugh and Julia contacted me and we found we had the same passion and desire to make a change and to help others suffering, so began our friendship and partnership to honour Jay’s legacy of Love, Inspiration and Change. I then met Stefan and after hearing his story, I invited him to be part of our quest. My brother Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne and actress and TV presenter, Denise Welch, are patrons and I am so happy to have their support.  Since the passing of my wonderful son, I have been fortunate enough to encounter so many people who want to help, support and give their time, The Purple Ladies especially have worked so hard over the past year hosting fund raising events.  Our team is still growing as hopefully will the support.   I do not want others to suffer like Jay and no mother should ever feel the complete and utter pain and despair of losing a child through mental health illness.

Hugh Shriane

Graduating from University in 1988, I went into Children’s Social Services.  I specialised in Adoption and Fostering Services, managing Residential Care and established one of the first care-leaving services for very vulnerable young people.  It was at this parallel point I qualified as a Mental Health Social Worker and proceeded to spend a decade working in the community (Assessments) and on formal psychiatric wards.  It was immediately apparent to me that Children’s services and adult Services were very different. Whilst they both have their shortcomings, Children’s Services were at least regulated through the Children Act 1929.  Additionally, the transition from one to another was often fraught with insurmountable problems.

I moved on to manage various Children’s Services at a senior level – in Birmingham, then to be the Managing Director of over 30 children’s homes in the private sector, then to be the Head of Social Work, Child Protection and Disability Services in Bedford.  

During a long and ongoing career in welfare services, I’ve encountered some of the most damaged and vulnerable children and adults.  My fascination with the organisation of mental health services led me to co-initiate the Jay Lennon Foundation and the Enough is Enough Campaign.  More specifically, I believe that there is a fundamental flaw in the Mental Health Act 1983.  That flaw, in my opinion, is that the law is often used as a barrier fr admission for hospital services at times of acute crisis.  If, for example, someone attends A&E with conditions that are not immediate apparent, such as abdominal pains, then they would normally be admitted for assessment.  One of the strangest comments I did hear from a Psychiatrist to a patient was, ‘I would really like to treat you in hospital but it is illegal’.  How on earth can it be illegal to treat somebody who is clearly in need of treatment?  It is also my view that the current system is in urgent need of reform: staff are under acute pressure, resources are scarce – we know that but the system lacks clear pathways, is chaotic and is far too over-complicated for parents or carers, or even professionals to understand.  This was clearly the case in point for Jay Lennon.  When we first started the campaign, one social media post was shared over 76,000 times around the world and we received literally thousands of responses, which were in accord with these very points.  

Enough is Enough.

Julia Naydene-Frances

Growing up with a parent suffering from chronic depression, anxiety and psychosis becomes an education in the mental disorders and the mental health care system.  Negotiating the labyrinth that is the mental health service was incredibly difficult at times, not least for my Mom who cared for my Dad.  When he was experiencing acute mental distress out of hours (particularly during bank holidays) we simply did not know where to turn and Mom had to become a Lay Psychiatric Nurse.  As a consequence of our experience as a family, I resolved to do what I could to help those affected by mental ill health.  

As a Funeral Celebrant, I hear far too many tragic stories of lives lost as a consequence of mental distress and/or failings of the mental health care system.  Increasingly, I meet families whose loved ones felt the only way to ease the pain and torment was to turn to alcohol and illegal or prescription drugs.  They simply did not know how to get them the specialist help they were so desperate for.  It seems that there is no help available, no statutory obligation for medical intervention and support and, for some, no hope.  Sometimes care in the community is not enough.  Too many lives have been lost and are at risk.  Enough is enough.  In honour of those for whom it is too late, we are working hard to implement the changes so urgently needed.

Stefan Brown

I’m Stefan Brown, 40, from Newcastle upon Tyne these days but originally from a small town called Berwick upon Tweed.  Moving here in 1995 to hopefully achieve bigger and better things in the city.  Employment opportunities were few and far between so I thought let’s do this.

City life was amazing, so different, much more to do at nights etc. Within a twelve months I was running my own business and things were going fantastically well.  I worked hard and partied even harder. I suppose that’s when the hard drinking started.  This went on for years. It stated affecting my work, my health, my marriage, home life, basically alcohol had taken over.

I hit my lowest point in 2012 and decided to seek help.  The staff at the hospital were great and with their knowledge, expertise and medication of course I got through it.

This is why I wanted to come on board the Jay Lennon Foundation.  More help is needed. People of all ages are being turned away when seeking help.  This must change. People think that just because there are no physical scars there’s nothing wrong, well that perception is wrong.  People have things going on inside that can’t be seen. We need to get help for these people and the foundation will be campaigning to get this help.

Since seeking help, I’ve always encouraged people to keep talking and not keep things hidden away inside.  A few friends have taken their own lives in the 40 years I have been here and I can’t help wondering if only they had just asked someone for help, confided in a friend, then maybe some of them would be still with us.

I am really looking forward to working with Anna and the guys in the coming months and years and hopefully we can make a difference.