The Rainbow Project’s staff team are responsible for the operational delivery of the The Rainbow Projects services and advocacy work. Our dedicated team work hard to meet the needs of LGB&/T people and their families in Northern Ireland. Meet the team below.
John O’Doherty: Director
I am responsible for staff management, fundraising, policy development, day-to-day management and assisting the Board in strategic development. I previously worked as The Rainbow Project’s Equality Officer and I am still involved in a number of LGBT groups including the Love Equality campaign for equal marriage in Northern Ireland. Before joining The Rainbow Project in 2008 I worked for a Political Party. I live in Belfast with my partner and our two dogs Saffie and Sherlock and our cat Harvey. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, movies, singing and dancing.
Dean Lee: Co-Cultural Counsellor
I’m a qualified Counsellor and member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. I deliver co-cultural counselling services to people across the sexuality, gender and relationship spectrum from both the Belfast and Foyle LGBT Centres. It generally reassures our clients to know that their counsellor is LGBT themselves and has an LGBT affirmative approach to therapy. Before joining Rainbow, I worked in various voluntary, education and health organisations concerned with anti-racism and anti-sectarianism and was also instrumental in the establishment of the Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Interpreting Service. During my time at The Rainbow Project I have helped to set up a number of innovative projects including the Befriending Service, Gay Ethnic Group, Outwrite LGBT Creative Writing Group and the Arts Council Project Multiple Journeys of Belonging.
Nuala Devenny: Health and Well-being Manager
My name is Nuala and I am the Health and Well-being Manager with the Rainbow Project. I am responsible for supporting the services team which has a wide variety of services, such as; sexual health, Family Support, Rural Support, LGBT Peer & Social Support Groups, Befriending, delivery of Workshops and Personal Development Programmes. I also co-ordinate the Smoking Cessation Service.
I have a background in Youth Work and Community Development. I live in rural County Down with my Wife, our dog Reilly and our three cats Lala, O’Toodles and Koda. In my spare time I like to watch football and other sports and I love reading and socialising with my family and friends.
Aisling Twomey: Advocacy Officer
I’m Aisling and I am the Advocacy officer at The Rainbow Project. My role is to encourage and support members of the community to report homophobic and transphobic hate and signal incidents/crimes as a victim or witness to PSNI. Over 64% such incidents were never reported to the PSNI and the most common reason given was fears that the police would not or could not do anything. I am here to support people through the process and will support them in accessing relevant support agencies. Before joining The Rainbow Project in 2018, I have worked at Northern Ireland Assembly, worked in publications and PR sector. In my spare time, I sing with Belfast Community Gospel Choir and have been known to do a spot of dancing.
Martin Rolston: Co-Cultural Counsellor
I’m a qualified counsellor accredited with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and Advanced Accreditation with Pink Therapy.
My current work at The Rainbow Project ranges from appointments with individuals, couples and families to developing and facilitating personal development groups and training for counsellors in LGBT Affirmative Therapy. I have previously worked as a Residential Senior Project Worker at the Richmond Fellowship’s therapeutic communities in Coventry and Liverpool, as well as The Young People’s Centre here in Belfast.
Joe Walsh: Family Support Officer
My name is Joe Walsh, I am the Family Support Officer working in partnership with Here NI with same sex parents and their children. My role is to provide support for the families and create a safe space for them to meet up and have fun. I have a strong youth and community background as well as early years experience of working with young children, being an uncle to 14 nieces and nephews has given me plenty of experience.
I also facilitate the Family Ties group which supports parents and families of LGBT+ through the sometimes difficult time of coming out by linking them with parents who have been through the process of supporting their child through coming out.
I live in Newtownards with my partner of 21 years and our 6 demanding cats. To keep sane I love working with healing crystals and essential oils and enjoy exploring positive mental health tools. When it’s not raining, the forest is my second home
Nat Creighton: Co-Cultural Counsellor
I am a down to earth counsellor with several years’ experience working with the LGBTQ community in Belfast, and in the field of student mental health and wellbeing. I am a registered Member of the BACP and an Accredited member of the National Counselling Society. I have been a co-cultural counsellor at The Rainbow Project for over 4 years. I came initially to do my student placement in 2016 and have never left! Prior to working at Rainbow, I have been involved with various LGBTQ groups in Belfast since 2009 have a background in community arts.
I have been fortunate to work in some of Belfast large and small art venues. Art still remains one of my passions, as is travelling and I have lived in New York and Vancouver. In addition to my role as counsellor at The Rainbow Project, I am also involved in developing and delivering training to counsellors, student counsellors and those working in the field of mental health.
In my free time I can mostly be found in the sea, up a hill or at home reading, painting or petting my cat.
Ciara O'Neill: Co-Cultural Counsellor
Hi there, my name is Ciara and I am proud to say the first female staff counsellor on the Rainbow team. I am a fully qualified counsellor and member of the BACP. I am presently working towards completing my Post Grad in Gender and Sexual Diversity Training alongside Pink Therapy. My background includes growing up in a rural environment and coming out as gay and at one stage literally being the only gay in the village. I am grateful to have a lot of experiences working with different organisations and charities including a counselling organisation set up in Mid Ulster (MACP) and Cruse (working with adults and young people). As well as working with the Rainbow Project I also work as a Childline counsellor working with young people and I also work for Lifeline working with clients who are presenting in distress with thoughts of suicide and self-harm.
I thoroughly enjoy my work here at the Rainbow Project and working with clients to empower them to live their lives in how they want to. As well as working face to face counselling clients I also help out with the professional development groups as well which I really enjoy and would strongly recommend them.
Jayne Robinson : Sustainability Officer
Hi my name is Jayne and I am the Sustainability Officer for The Rainbow Project, when you hear the word sustainability most people think about trees and renewable energy, but it is to do with increasing the longevity and awareness of The Rainbow Project and the services we provide.
My role is to primarily raise unrestricted funds through events, regular donor giving and encouraging the LGB&/T Community to get involved with us, either as a volunteer, donor or to utilise the services we have to offer.
I have volunteered within the LGB/&T Sector for over 15 years and have been working in the sector full time for over five years, striving to make a difference for our community.
Ren McGuickan: RSE Officer
Hi, I’m Ren and I am the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Officer for The Rainbow Project. Our RSE Programme is an entirely free set of three two-hour workshops to get young people the most up to date sexual health information, and the skills they need to keep all their relationships healthy. It’s my job to organise and deliver these sessions.
I have a history of volunteering with LGBT+ Organisations in Northern Ireland, and am very passionate about queer activism. When I’m not in work talking about healthy relationships, I’m at home trying to educate my cat, Cujo, on healthy relationships so he stops bullying me.
Colleen O'Neill - Out North West Youth Development Officer
Im Colleen and I am a Youth Worker on the OUT North West programme. OUT North West is a project which is delivered by The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend and funded by The Big Lottery. The project works with young LGBTQ+ people aged 14 – 25 and aims to improve the health and wellbeing of young people in the North West. We are based in the Foyle LGBT Centre in Derry and offer a range of different opportunities for young people to engage, access support, meet new people and have fun!
I have been volunteering and working in the Youth Work sector for over 10 years. Outside of work im a keen activist involved in local and regional campaigns. I love travelling, reading and crafting!
Leo Lardie: Sexual Health Development Officer
I’m Leo. I’m the sexual health development officer. This means that I’m responsible for rapid HIV & syphilis testing in our Belfast and Foyle centres. I co-ordinate our sexual health clinics in partnership with BHSCT and WHSCT GUM clinics. I manage our OUTreach team who deliver our safer sex packs in Kremlin, Boombox/Maverick and Union Street two nights a week and I oversee our safer sex pack packing team. I often spend a lot of my time on the phone talking to and reassuring LGB&/T people who’re concerned about their sexual health. I’ve been volunteering for our community for about five years now particularly with LGB&/T young people. I absolutely adore what I do for a living and am thrilled to work towards better health and wellbeing for LGB&/T people in Northern Ireland.
Eimear Willis: Western Health and Wellbeing Officer
Hi, my name is Eimear and I am the Western Health and Wellbeing Officer for The Rainbow Project. I am based in the Foyle LGBT Centre and take care of our awesome drop in facility alongside volunteers, organising events and project throughout the year and working alongside the peer support groups to offer a fabulous service for the LGBT+ community in the Foyle are.
Mardi Kennedy: Regional Health and Well-being Officer
As Regional Health and Wellbeing Officer, Mardi will be developing 5 peer and social support groups throughout rural areas of Northern Ireland. Get in touch with Mardi to find out where the groups will be located and come along to meet other LGB&T people for fun workshops, social outings and more! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Pat Nairn: Finance & Administration Officer
I’m Pat and I’m responsible for looking after administration and finance here at Rainbow. I’ve been working here for 10 years now, having previously worked in financial services. Outside of work, I am interested in gardening, reading and I have a son who is a DJ/actor. We have 3 dogs, Hannibal, a Maltese Terrier, Cain, a Samoyed and Ebony, an Lhasa Apso. This leaves me time for little else.
Paul Brennan: Lets Talk Gender Identity Programme
Hi my name is Paul and I am working on our new programme Lets talk gender identity in the Foyle LGBT Centre . Let’s talk Gender Identity is an exciting programme which uses creativity to help young people aged between 12-24 explore and understand gender identity & sexual orientation and how it relates to themselves and the world around them.
I’ve been a volunteer and lead volunteer with The Rainbow Project over the last 5 years. I am very excited to be back and part of the team in Foyle . Outside of work I spend most of my time rummaging around TKMAXX, or any clothing store tbh, looking for that perfect outfit as I have a massive obsession with clothes. If am not shopping you will find me in the gym pretending that I know what am doing .
Marion Kerr: Volunteer Coordinator
I’m Marion and I’m the Volunteer Coordinator at The Rainbow Project. I am responsible for volunteer recruitment and ensuring that volunteers feel supported in their roles and are able to get the most out of their time volunteering here at the Rainbow Project. I have worked in the community and voluntary sector for most of the past 20 years in community arts and youth organisations, and have also volunteered with a range of organisations in the past. Outside of work I’m passionate about music and the arts, and enjoy adventures in my camper van with my son.
Hi there, I’m Preston. I am a BACP student member 861815, working towards the completion of my CPCAB level 4 in therapeutic counselling. I used to volunteer with The Rainbow Project’s Sexual Health Outreach team and I am happy to be back since March 2018 volunteering for the Co-Cultural Counselling team. I identify myself as a Gay and cisgender man.
I have worked for more than 20 years in a variety of other settings such as learning/physical disabilities, mental health support, elderly care and early years. I am also a Complimentary therapist and practitioner and teacher of Hatha yoga and meditation.
I am trained in psychodynamic and person-centred approaches to counselling and I aim to provide a genuine and warm space for people to explore themselves freely and safely.