Our team

We have 10 committee members  who are elected to serve for a 4 year term of office. They come from many different lay and professional backgrounds:

Simon Downer (interim Chair)

Simon is the interim Chair of ISPS UK. Simon is a psychiatrist working in the NHS in an inner city mental health team in Bristol, UK. He is also a psychodynamic psychotherapist working in the NHS and in private practice, a member of Severnside Institute for Psychotherapy and the British Psychoanalytic Council. He has been advisor ally for the Bristol Hearing Voices Network for around ten years. He is Director of the Bristol Psychosis Heath Integration Team, a team of people who experience psychosis, their families and carers, academics, mental health professionals, commissioners, service providers and other experts working together to improve the lives of people with psychosis in Bristol.

Simon is interested in how the systems of psychiatry serve to dehumanise and alienate people, and often do more harm than good. He is trying to promote more thoughtful approaches to mental health work and hopes that working with ISPS will be a powerful way of doing that on a much wider scale.

Angela Woods

Angela Woods is a Professor of Medical Humanities and the Director of the Institute for Medical Humanities at Durham University. From 2012-2022 she co-directed ‘Hearing the Voice’, a large interdisciplinary research project focused on experiences of hearing voices.

John Richardson

Psychosis lived experience.

Jessica Pons

Jessica began working with people diagnosed with ‘psychosis’ in 2006.  She is an integrative psychotherapist practicing within a critical mental health feminist/sociopolitical framework and worked as the Hearing Voices project manager at Mind in Camden. Jess has family members diagnosed with psychosis, plus is reflective of her own experiences in the liminal spaces of psychosis. She is now the Project Manager at Synergi, focusing on the intersection of mental health and racial justice and is a producer for ISPS UK film ‘Dismantling the Master’s House’.

Jen Kilyon

Jen became involved in ISPS about 6 years ago when she first heard about the organisation. She was attracted by its international nature because she believes there is a huge amount we can learn from other cultures and how they approach mental distress. She also appreciated the fact that the organisation welcomed all those committed to promoting a more humane approach to psychosis regardless of their status or allegiance to a “psychological model”. She first became involved in campaigning for more choice in mental health services around 10 years ago when her son first experienced psychosis. She was shocked at what passed for “treatment” and felt the need to move on from my 30 years as an educationalist to become an activist for change in this system. She has worked on many local and national projects and is also a trustee for the Soteria Network where she is helping to set up the first UK Soteria House.

Akiko Hart

Akiko (she/her) is the CEO of NSUN, the National Survivor User Network, and sits on the board of National Voices.

Eamonn Flynn

I have a long career in business, finance and management of arts charities. I appreciate and remain impressed how the arts can help people connect to each other the world over.

As a member of a carer’s group in Haringey, I am appalled how awful treatment in NHS mental services can be experienced by our loved ones. I feel it is vital to keep looking for better and kinder ways of understanding psychosis to help people find their own way. Families and carers are front line and I support the ISPS aims to find a range of approaches towards supporting people in distress.

Neil Caton

I have lived experience of psychosis and of early intervention services alongside other community services. I sit on various involvement groups. I have also worked as a service user consultant for the early intervention service where I ran an involvement group and contributed service user perspectives to various working groups. I work as a support worker so have a good empathy with other caring professionals. I am a current trustee of ISPS and have been for some years.

I am firmly committed to psycho social approaches to psychosis and have a special interest in Open Dialogue, The Hearing Voices Network and The Soteria Network.

Sara Alsaraf

Dr. Sara Alsaraf is a Psychiatrist, Dramatherapist and PhD candidate at the University of Birmingham. She works with marginalised individuals and communities, creating trauma-informed spaces to explore and process their stories and experiences creatively and safely.

Steph Allan

Steph discovered ISPS online and was excited to become a member. An adult returner to education, Steph is working on a PhD within the Psychosis Research Group, with a particular focus on complex issues within implementation for digital psychosocial interventions. Steph has personal experience of psychosis, voice hearing and hospitalisation. From her experiences, she is passionate about approaches to mental distress which foreground compassion and are mindful of inequality.