Welcome to the Assert staff team Maria and Sue

Assert have 2 new members of staff who are currently being inducted into their roles remotely! Maria is our new Autism Support Advisor and is currently working 2.5 days per week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Sue is our new Volunteer and Activities Coordinator and is covering Cat’s maternity leave over 15 months. Sue is working Mondays and Thursdays at the moment.

As you can imagine inducting new members of the team remotely presents us with numerous challenges and so it may take longer than normal before they are both in touch with people and providing regular support. Please bear with us during this time.

Autism Support Adviser 

Maria Riaza Fernández

Hello! I am María and I am delighted to be joining Assert. I arrived to UK from Spain, with the intention to spend 1 year learning English after I finished my degree, I loved Brighton so much that … Here I am 9 years later! 

I have a degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education. During my years in UK I have worked in different primary schools both teaching and as a playworker and more recently, in a Mental Health Hospital supporting people. 

Some of the things I love are learning new things, strategy board games, arts and crafts, long walks, roller-skating and playing basketball with my team. 

I am looking forward to my new role and meeting and helping great people.

Volunteer/Activities Coordinator

Sue Burchett

I am delighted to be able to join the Assert team as the Activities and Volunteer Coordinator covering Cat’s maternity leave. 

I learnt I was autistic in 2014 and have gained as much knowledge as I can since then about autism and Asperger Syndrome and, in February 2020, I was awarded a Distinction in the PGCert in Autism and Asperger Syndrome from Sheffield Hallam University. I currently work with autistic individuals as a mentor to students at Brighton University and I’m also a volunteer mentor to autistic service users with the local probation service. 

I’ve always been interested in psychology and human behaviour and after completing a Diploma in Stress Management in 2006, I went on to achieve a Certificate and Advanced Diploma in Counselling and qualified as a Counsellor in 2010; I am currently an accredited member of the British Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellor with a small private practice in Brighton specialising in autistic individuals, their families and/or carers. 

I have a degree in Drama and English and I am a keen theatregoer and I also perform in musical theatre from time to time. I am an avid reader of literature (when I get the time) and watching a good film or TV drama series is something that I can really get lost in. I have been practising meditation since 2004 and enjoy quiet walks on the downs or by the sea and I enjoy riding a bicycle to get around town. 

It’s a strange time to join the organisation during a lockdown but everyone has been so welcoming via video link. While I haven’t had the chance to meet any of our clients yet, I hope to be able to connect with you as soon as I can. I’ll be sending out a couple of virtual activities in May but please do email me on activities@assertby.org.uk if you have any suggestions; that would be great. The volunteer and befriending service is also operational and so if you’d like some support on the phone or via an online call or messenger, we have volunteers who can offer you some individual care and attention. So do get in touch with me if Assert can assist you during this challenging period.