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Meet the Team


Frances Heather is a retired former Occupational Therapist with some 30+ years experience of working in the mental health field. She has held a long term ambition to pioneer a community cafe run for and by service users. When working in the NHS, Frances felt that although services were meant to be ‘client-focused’, they rarely were. She observed there was a tendency to have to try and ‘fit’ people in with the services available, rather than the other way round. She wanted to see services be more responsive to the needs of the people it was serving.

Frances experienced severe physical ill-health problems in 2005 and eventually lost her registration as an O.T. because of this. In many ways, she felt her life and career was on the scrapheap and although never diagnosed with a mental illness as such, she became very depressed, thinking her useful life was over. When some treatment became available, she was able to achieve a level of recovery to enable her to think about doing something again with this long held dream. An opportunity arose to attend a ‘taste of enterprise’ course and through this Frances learned about Unltd who fund social entrepreneurs.

Having applied and been successful, Frances found that it was now possible to put into action some of the ideas she had long held. The idea to form this new community work came just at the time when there were many cuts being made in services for mental health service users, including the closure of the main day centre in Southampton. Thus, it was felt that the project was very timely and thus the idea for Creative Options was born.

Frances graduated from the Hampshire School of Social Entrepreneurs in October 2013.


Contact Frances Heather:

Mobile: 07850 189069
E-mail: frances.anne@btinternet.com


Julie Anstey came to Creative Options in the Autumn of 2014, seeking potential voluntary opportunities and to help herself with her own depression. Having trained in floristry, she was seeking opportunities to use these skills. She now offers a monthly floristry class, which is very popular. Julie is also formerly trained as an adult education tutor, delivering courses in aromatherapy and massage. These skills have been utilised and have been key in setting up regular 'Wellbeing Wednesdays' every month. Julie enjoys cooking in company and took over as tutor of the monthly meal cookery and cake-baking class; she is now one of our regular tutors. Through Julie's volunteer work elsewhere with the 'Sailability' group in Totton, she has enabled a number of our Creative Options members to go sailing, which has been thoroughly enjoyed by many. We hope to make this a weekly part of our programme from March until September. In the next few months, Julie is looking to help run a monthly 'Healthy Lifestyle' club as part of the hub activities on a Wednesday, exploring aspects of a balanced lifestyle and the relationship between food and mood.

Being involved in Creative Options has given Julie a new focus and improved her confidence and self-esteem and helped her with her own ongoing issues as well as enabling her to use her many skills.


Saire Herschel heard about Creative Options through the grapevine. Being involved with the project from its outset in the early days of 2012, Saire quickly became one of its key people. Saire has set up a very popular weekly quiz, which has become the mainstay of the hub activities on a Wednesday and is enjoyed by many. A trained music teacher and musician, Saire started her own singing group and set up the 'With a Song in Mind' singing group in the summer of 2015. The group has performed locally with community projects and recently formed the bulk of the 'Mind and Soul 11' choir with composer Harvey Brough at the Turner Sims, in a major production with the University of Southampton. The production was based on the experiences of someone with bi-polar, as recorded in the book, 'The Unquiet Mind'. Saire has taken over the art club at Creative Options, together with a friend, and has recently worked with people from the John Hansard Gallery. She is also looking to add to her work by developing a monthly dedicated card-making group and a music appreciation group.

Saire is passionate about saving lives, having lost a number of friends to suicide. She has run three annual 'Keeping the Hope' suicide awareness and prevention days and hopes to do more.

Saire is now our official part-time activity organiser.

She says, "Creative Options came along just at the time when I was beginning to put my head above the parapet - it has been a key instrument in my recovery".


Michael Johnston came along to Creative Options to aid him with his own recovery back in 2014. Through the support of the Creative Options project, Michael has started a ‘WRAP Peer Support Group’ after he identified a need for more support for people to continue working on their WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) after they have completed an initial WRAP course. This group runs fortnightly as part of Creative Options’ programme. Michael also enjoys a number of activities that the project offers including the 'Make and Mend' sewing project, pottery courses, monthly floristry and the seasonal cookery. Michael serves on the committee and became the chairperson in 2016. He is learning committee skills and gaining in confidence by running the bi-monthly Member's meetings and the Trustees meetings.


Michelle Emereau is Creative Options' Project Leader/Peer Support co-ordinator and comes to the project with comprehensive personal and professional experience of mental health issues.

Michelle has an NVQ3 as a peer support worker, including counselling; and moved to Southampton in 2013, working with BUPA as a clinical support worker caring for children with life threatening illness. In May 2014, she gained an EDI pass grade in an introduction to Counselling, which included crisis mediation. She also gained a Continual Professional Development level 3 qualification in dealing with depression and passed with a higher distinction.

Michelle has been diagnosed with Bi-polar 2, BPD and social anxiety and has thirty-eight years lived experience of mental health issues. She has progressed well in her recovery with the help of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), art therapy and talking therapies to the point her last hospital admission was sixteen years ago. Michelle also manages a physical disability called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which is a hereditary disorder of the connective tissue causing fragility of the structural collagen. As a consequence, her joints are unstable and hypermobile which causes chronic pain and she uses a stick as a walking aid.

Michelle is passionate about recovery and her current goal for Creative Options is to roll out a recovery tool to encourage and help members look at their lives and make them more manageable.


Karen O'Brien has been a member with us since 2013 and helped us when we ran the Sembal House Café in 2015. Since 2016 she has been doing the lunches at the drop-in and continues as our regular activity assistant currently.


Ramesh Heer is Creative Options' Activity Assistant and Men's Group Support Worker. He has extensive experience of mental health promotion and mental health issues.

Ramesh is a skilled worker with many years' experience of working with people experiencing physical, mental, and learning difficulties. He is a non-judgemental and compassionate individual, able to work under pressure and demonstrating confidence when handling crisis situations. He is an efficient and methodical administrator with excellent organisational skills. A great team player considerate of co-workers' work load, willing to work together to achieve targets. He is a pro-active, creative person who finds change motivating and exiting.

Ramesh has suffered from depression and anxiety and recovered through volunteering for different organisations and charities. Some examples being Creative Options Community Project, St Deny's Activity Group and Sue Ryder Shirley. Previously Ramesh worked as a Day Service Officer at Bedford House Adult Mental Health Day Services.

Ramesh is passionate about improving peoples mental health recovery through a holistic well-being approach, especially through volunteering.