Symbol’s services are provided by 3 distinct organisations:
Symbol Family Support Services Limited (Company registration number: 04408770)
Symbol UK Limited (Company registration number: 03557960)
The Symbol Trust (Registered charity number: 1097042)
Symbol UK was established as a limited company in 1998, and since then, our growth has been led by demand for services. Initially Symbol offered an alternative where other providers experienced difficulties in delivering services, due to problems with recruitment and retention of appropriately skilled staff, or in finding solutions to challenges. Our structure continues to evolve to support new services and ways of working. Each service is headed up by professionals who have both clinical expertise and management skills. Our management structure ensures that a sound financial base and effective management underpins services
Symbol brings together skilled practitioners and commissioners to develop innovative services that enrich the lives of children and adults who have special needs. Our work supports clients to develop their skills and confidence, to make choices about their lives and improves their opportunities to engage with and contribute to the community.
Our mission statement
“Symbol exists to create choices for individuals and innovative and effective solutions for organisations. We strive to work in partnership with others to improve the quality of knowledge and opportunity for those we support.”
Key Members of our Team:
TESSA DUFFY – Managing Director
Tessa Duffy is the Managing Director of the companies within the Symbol Group; Symbol UK Ltd and Symbol Family Support Services Ltd having established the Symbol Services in 1994. Tessa qualified as a speech and language therapist in 1982 and since that time has provided services to adults and children with disabilities. Following the publication of the seminal work ‘Communicating Quality’ Tessa was awarded a Fellowship of The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Tessa holds Post Graduate Diplomas in the Psychology of Mental Handicap and Family Assessment and in Child Studies and is currently enrolled in the Masters Child Studies Programme at Kings College, London.
Tessa has focused her practice around Safeguarding and Parents with disabilities for the past 20 years, within health, social services and independent provisions.
Alex Hall is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist with a Master’s degree in management; she has over ten years of experience in developing and managing services in each of the statutory (NHS) and voluntary sectors as well as five years in the commercial sector.
Alex is a passionate advocate of the provision of integrated, holistic services, which simultaneously allow people to develop to their potential and access a full range of life and educational opportunities.
Alex’s career has included the development and management of national services for children with speech, language and communication needs, the leadership of projects fro the DfE and DoH and the development of partnerships across statutory, commercial and voluntary sectors to improve outcomes for people with special educational needs.
Julie qualified as a speech and language therapist in 1981, after a number of clinical roles she moved to East Berkshire to take up a Team Leader post and in time the Head of Service post. Julie joined Symbol to develop a new an exciting way to provide speech and language therapy services.
Julie leads a team of over 40 staff, providing services to thousands of adults and children with learning disabilities or complex needs where communication is an issue, the services range from large NHS contracts to individual schools and specialist consultations.
Julie is a member of the Communication Trust Board.
Sue is a qualified speech and language therapist with additional qualifications including Makaton Tutor and The Listening Programme Provider Certificate.
Sue has worked in a variety of posts, mostly within the field of special educational needs. Her interest in Down syndrome began in 1985 when she was able to spend some time with a pioneer in the field – Pat Le Prevost, a speech and language therapist and Makaton tutor working in Oxfordshire who was introducing Makaton signing and group speech and language therapy to young children with Down syndrome. Her interest is in children with special educational needs, especially during their teenage years.
Sue still has a clinical role in special and mainstream schools as well as managing teams of therapists and
Chairing the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists’ Special Interest Group for Down syndrome.
Norma is a qualified speech and language therapist (1983) with additional qualifications in training and development including a post graduate diploma in Training & Development from the Thames Valley University (Slough) in 1997 and certification as a Makaton Regional Tutor.
Norma’s experience includes working within preschool, schools and adult services, providing specialist clinical expertise and service management in the statutory, independent and charitable sectors both in the UK and abroad. She has also worked as a consultant for a communication aids company and was National Training Officer and Assistant Director of the Makaton Charity. Norma has been a member of the Board of Trustees for the Makaton Charity since 2007. Norma’s particular interest is in training and development for professionals and families.
Deirdre is a Speech and Language Therapist who specialised in working with clients with learning disabilities several years after qualifying in 1968.
She specialised in working with people with Down syndrome over 18 years ago and is now a key member of Symbol’s team providing consultations, eating and drinking clinics and training.
Deidre is also the co-ordinator of the National Down Syndrome Association Co-worker network.
NIKI MUIR – Manager for Special Schools
Niki is a qualified speech and language therapist with an additional post graduate qualification in mental health. She has 35 years of clinical experience in both paediatric and adult settings, including working in special and mainstream schools, clinics, language units, mental health hospitals and a young offenders institution. Outside of the NHS Nikki has worked in the charitable sector as Training Project Manager for Speakability (formerly Action for Dysphasic Adults) and in education as visiting Clinical Tutor at the Department of Human Communication Science, University College London.
Nikki’s specialist areas include mental health autism, complex needs and alternative, augmentative communication and she has extensive experience as a consultant, trainer and writer of published articles in mental health.
Leela is a Senior Clinical Specialist Speech and Language Therapist with over 20 years of experience of working with children with Down syndrome; she developed, and now delivers, the 4-day National Specialist course for speech and language therapists working with people with Down syndrome as well as running regular specialist clinics including eating and drinking, residential assessment and intervention services for children with Down syndrome.
In addition to this work Leela has had responsibility for delivering a large proportion of Symbol’s training services and life skills work with young people with a variety of disabilities, taken part in an All Party Parliamentary Group and worked in partnership with Early Support Wales and the Down syndrome association.
Mary started her career working in a pecialized assessment centre for pre-school children with a wide range of communication problems and was also involved in audiological research; she worked collaboratively with Reading University, where she later obtained a masters degree in Applied Linguistics and became a part-time lecturer in language pathology and linguistic science.
Mary later worked in a specialist language resource and in mainstream schools and became the Professional Lead for Speech and Language Therapy Services to Education across East Berkshire.
Mary now works for Symbol on a number of education related projects and provides speech and language therapy for mainstream and special schools.
Derinda qualified as a speech and language therapist in 1989 and then worked for two years in Edinburgh developing a specialism in physical disability. She then moved to East Sussex to take up a specialist position at Chailey Heritage, an International Centre of Excellence for children and young adults with complex physical disabilities where she worked for ten years.
Derinda came to Symbol in 2001 where she has specialist responsibilities for services to children, young people and adults with physical disabilities and dysphagia.
Symbol Family Support Services
Dr Eleanor Ferris – Clinical Psychologist
Eleanor has most recently worked as a Clinical Psychologist for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust.
JACQUELINE STONE – Nursing Advisor
Jacqueline Stone is a Registered General Nurse and a Specialist Health Visitor for people with Learning Disabilities. Jacqueline has over thirty years experience as a practitioner working with children and families
HEATHER HINTON – Social Worker
Heather is a qualified and registered social worker (1991) with over 20 years experience working with vulnerable adults. Heather has previously managed residential homes for people with learning disabilities.
Louise Elliott is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist and has a master’s degree in Intervention and Analysis in Learning Disabilities from the Tizard Centre, University of Kent in 2005.
Louise specialises in behaviour management and has extensive experience in both assessment and the provision of intervention in respect of children and adults within family systems. Louise leads the team in utilising applied behavioural analysis and positive behaviour support techniques. Louise has previously managed one of Symbol’s Residential Family Assessment Units and currently manages Symbol’s Community Support Services for parents with learning disabilities.
LUCY BERRY – Community Assessment Team
Lucy Berry until recently has managed our residential centre in Bristol and is now a senior member of our community assessment team . Lucy has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and an MSc in Neuropsychology.
Chloe Deeble-Rogers is the Centre Manager for Newington Manor Residential unit and has a BA (Hons) degree in Psychology from Bristol University. Chloe has experience of working with adults and children with learning disabilities and works directly with children and families. Chloe is currently undertaking further study of the Master’s programme in Child Studies at Kings College in London. Chloe holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Child Studies from Kings College.
JUDITH REEP – Consultant Occupational Therapist
Judith combines her role at Symbol with NHS employment as a consultant OT. Judith has an MSc in Interprofessional Health and Social Studies and is also currently enrolled on a part time PhD course in Health and Social Care.