Assert Staff

Assert employs five part time staff and two full time. The roles of the workers are:

Autism Support Adviser:

Liam Ragless

My name is Liam Ragless. I’ve been with Assert since November 2017 as the Autism Support Advisor here. My background is in Psychology and I have worked supporting people across the Autism Spectrum for almost eight years. I really enjoy my role at Assert- I get to work with some amazing people clients and colleagues alike. It is a very interesting job with a lot of variety. My role predominantly involves working with clients to support with casework. Casework is usually practical-based pieces of work including help with forms, telephone calls, and general day-to-day things that people may need a bit of backup with. I also provide support around employment and housing. A lot of my role includes signposting, advice, guidance, advocacy, crisis prevention and resolution, and liaison with statutory services to help make sure our clients are supported in the best possible ways. When people first come to Assert, I am often the first person they will have contact with- I do initial meetings with new clients to introduce our services, find out a bit about them, and discuss what support they may be seeking. My support extends to relatives, friends, and colleagues of autistic adults, and I co-facilitate a parents, partners, and carers support group. Alongside my colleague, Julia, and a few of our clients, I have been putting together some Autism Awareness training. This will be to deliver to other organisations, charities, and people to help raise awareness and understanding of the condition. I am often at our monthly drop-ins and events, so feel free to say ‘hi’ to me when you see me at these things. I am contactable on assert.bh@assertbh.org.uk and 01273 234 850.

Adult Education Coordinator:

Julia Martinez

My name is Julia Martinez, I’ve worked at Assert since 2017. My role involves coordinating, planning and delivering Assert’s courses. These are: Life Skills 1 – Social and Communication Skills, Life Skills 2 – Independent Living and Self-management Skills. Exploring Autism – a chance to explore what the diagnosis means. Two short courses delivered on a 1:1 basis- Self-management and Resilience. My colleague Liam and I together with a few of our clients have developed an Autism Awareness training to deliver to other organisations and charities, to help raise awareness and understanding of the condition. Every third Saturday of the month, I facilitate the Health Walks. The walks normally take place around Brighton’s fantastic countryside. Recently we’ve been to Ditchling Beacon, Stanmer Park and Devils Dyke. You’ll also see me at drop-in evenings where staff members get the chance to catch up with service users whilst having a drink and some nibbles or playing a game. Please email lifeskills@assertbh.org.uk

Benefits Liaison/Case Worker:

Emma Fraser

My name is Emma Fraser, and I have worked with Assert as Benefits Case Worker since October 2017, when I relocated to Brighton from Glasgow. I have an MSc in social work, and prior to joining Assert I worked as a Community Care social worker for a large local authority in Central Scotland. My main role at Assert is to provide advice and guidance about welfare benefits, and I support clients with most aspects of the application, review and appeals process for all means- tested and non means- tested benefits in the UK. This can include anything from supporting you to complete a benefit application form, supporting you to attend a face-to-face assessment, to acting as your representative at a first-tier appeal tribunal.

Navigating the current benefits system in the UK can be really challenging, and the benefits service is often very busy with appointments booked up on average 3-4 weeks in advance. If you are interested in finding out more about your benefit entitlement, or would like support to apply for, review or appeal a decision about benefits please contact me on 01273 234 850 or email me at benefits@assertbh.org.uk as soon as possible to arrange an appointment. There may be times when my caseload is at capacity where I am unable to offer support to people making new benefits applications, so please contact me at the above if you’d like support to make a new application for benefits to confirm if I am able to support you with this.

Volunteer/Activities Coordinator:

Cat Hogan-Jones

I organise the monthly activities that are on offer to members at Assert as well as the monthly social drop-in at Community Base. I try to offer a wide range of activities so that there will be something for everyone across the year. Our recent activities have included a trip to LazerZone, a quiz evening and a trip to a Fringe performance. We also do craft workshops, trips to the cinema, summer picnics and an annual day trip. I am always interested in hearing ideas from members of activities they would like to attend and where possible add these to the list.

The other half of my job is running the volunteer program which includes recruiting, training and supervising the volunteers who support all the activities, walks and pretty much everything that Assert offers. I also run the mentoring program matching volunteers with members who would like 1:1 support on anything from a specific task or deadline to more social befriending over a longer period of time. activities@assertbh.org.uk

Strategic Development Manager:

Sarah Bourne

My name is Sarah Bourne and I’m the Strategic Development Manager at Assert. I’ve worked at Assert since 2011 and have been able to develop and diversify the services that we can offer in this time. My role involves overseeing the day to day running of the organisation and looking at how we can continue to meet the needs of Autistic adults in the future. A large aspect of my role is in fundraising and ensuring that Assert has funding in place to continue to offer its services free of charge. I seek to raise funds from trusts, grants, commissioning, legacies, donations and other general fundraising activities. I work very closely with the staff team and trustees to ensure that we are member led and adapt to changing areas of need and address these where possible. I really enjoy getting to know our service users at drop ins and activities and love to see people benefitting from engaging with Assert. I enjoy the diversity of my role as manager at Assert and am always keen to hear from people with ideas for project development, fundraising ideas and from people offering to provide support in an area of expertise that may be helpful to Assert. I can be contacted on email at sarahb@assertbh.org.uk

Nicola Jones

Hello! I’m Nicola. I am now going to be organising the activity evenings that happen once every 2 weeks on a Thursday. These evenings were previously at Aspire but they have now found a home with us at Assert.

Many of you may recognise me from various activities and courses because I have been a member of Assert since 2008 and was diagnosed with Autism in 2009. I have some ‘special’ interests, as many Autistic people do. I enjoy foreign grammar, making paper flowers, aromatherapy, playing my accordion and spending time at home listening to clocks tick with my cat on my lap.

I am very excited to be working for Assert now because I cannot think where I would rather be than with other people like me and in an office full of such supportive people. I’m looking forward to meeting everybody in my new role and enjoying the activities we have coming up.

My email is nicola.neurodiversity@asssertbh.org.uk

David Workman

I’m going to be working on the new activities project at Assert. I’m very excited to start working here at Assert, and I look forward to meeting a whole host of new people and some old faces that I’ve already met. I’ve been volunteering with Assert since last June and I’ve been on some walks, attended some of the monthly drop-in sessions, and have partaken in some of Cat’s Thursday activity sessions which has all helped to give me a good understanding of what Assert is about and its ethos. Now to be a permanent member of the team is fantastic! My role here will involve teaming up with Nicola to help bring the Aspire activity sessions over to Community Base and to Assert, and it’s a project I can’t wait to start working on.

My email is david.neurodiversity@assertbh.org.uk