Staff Profiles

The Rainbow Project’s staff team are responsible for the operational delivery of the  services and advocacy work. Our dedicated team work hard to meet the needs of LGBTQIA+ people and their families in Northern Ireland. 

Senior Management Team

John O’Doherty (He/Him): 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 LGBTQIA+ 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 Husband and our two dogs Saffie & Baxter and our cat Harvey. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, movies, singing and dancing. 

Dean Lee (They/Them): Co-Cultural Counsellor

I’m a qualified Counsellor and accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. I deliver and co-manage our co-cultural counselling service to people across the sexuality, gender and relationship spectrum . It generally reassures our clients to know that their counsellor is LGBTQIA+ themselves and has an LGBTQ affirmative approach to therapy. Before joining Rainbow in 2010, 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 initiatives including Peace by Peace, Qulture Club, Gay Ethnic Group and Outwrite LGBTQ+ Creative Writing Group.

Martin Rolston (He/Him): 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.

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. 

Raymond Blaney (He/They) : Co-Cultural Counsellor

I am a registered qualified counsellor with BACP and NCS. I have previously worked with Headway and Epilepsy Action NI, PIPS and CRUSE. In addition to working as a sessional counsellor at The Rainbow Project, I currently work with FND Matters NI and Nexus.

What inspires me to the counselling world, is the individual uniqueness of each of us, and that if I can be privileged to accompany someone for a short period of their life’s journey, as they discover their amazing true self, then I am up for that trip.

 

  

Aisling Playford (She/Her): Policy and Advocacy Manager

I’m Aisling and I am the Policy and Advocacy Manager at The Rainbow Project. Before joining The Rainbow Project in 2018, I have worked at Northern Ireland Assembly, worked in the Publications and PR sector.  My role is shaping the organisations’ response to emerging issues for the LGBTQIA+ Community. I work with a wide range of stakeholders and am always on the lookout to maximising Rainbow’s opportunities for external engagement and partnership working. I am known to sing along with the radio in the office! 

Jayne Robinson (She/Her) : Business Development Manager

Get in touch with me via email: jayne@rainbow-project.org

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, financial stability and awareness and recognition 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 LGBTQIA+ Community to get involved with us, either as a volunteer, donor or to utilise the services we have to offer.

I have been working within the LGBTQIA+ Sector for over 17 years and have been working in the sector full time for over 7 years, striving to make a difference for our community. If you would like to make a donation to help us with our services you can do so here: www.rainbow-project.org/donate

Counselling Team

Ciara O'Neill (She/Her): 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.

Devin McMullan (She/They): Co-Cultural Counsellor

Hi! My name is Devin (She/They) and I am a volunteer student Counsellor within The Rainbow Project. I am due to qualify from a three year Foundation Degree in Integrative Counselling from Ulster University in Summer ‘22. I am training as a counsellor after discovering a real passion for listening to people, and helping them to find the solutions to their own problems, in my previous career working with vulnerable young people and their families. I’m a huge advocate for the co-cultural counselling model at Rainbow, and strongly believe it mitigates some of the barriers preventing LGBTQ+ persons accessing mental health and emotional wellbeing support in Northern Ireland. Prior to working as a counsellor with Rainbow, I enjoyed volunteering with their ‘Queers Outside The City’ programme – a fabulous social project located in various rural areas of NI. I live in rural North Antrim with my lovely wife, our lively toddler and three ludicrous cats. I love music, cooking tasty vegan food and wandering aimlessly in nature. I’m also enjoying learning to speak Polish, mówię trochę po polsku.

Elaine McIvor (She/Her): Co-Cultural Counsellor

I have been volunteering as a Counsellor for The Rainbow Project for a year and now work as a Sessional Counsellor for the charity. I have worked in other agency settings including a suicide prevention agency and self harm agency. I am a registered member of BACP and have my own private Holistic Counselling practice. As a young child I could often be heard saying that I wanted to save the world but didn’t really know where to start. My lifes journey has enriched me with experiences that have allowed me to empathise with clients and to allow them to be their authentic selves. I may not save the world but I can serve the world to lead a life that helps. I welcome you warmly to The Rainbow Project.

Preston Geddis (He/They) : Co-Cultural Counsellor

Hi there, I’m Preston. I am a MBACP a member and currently working towards accreditation. In the past, I have been an active volunteer with The Rainbow Project’s Sexual Health and wellbeing team. I have over 25years of supporting/caring for vulnerable adults (and early years) I identify as queer/Gay (He/They).

I am also a Complementary therapist and practitioner as well as a teacher of Hatha yoga and meditation. My counselling  model is psychodynamic and person-centred approaches and I aim to provide a genuine and warm space for people to explore themselves freely and safely.”

Sara Tibbs (She/Her) : Co-Cultural Counsellor

I am a sessional counsellor at the Rainbow project. I have a strong personal commitment to co-cultural counselling within the LGBTQIA+ community. I am a registered member of BACP. My initial training was in person-centred counselling. In recent years I have undertaken training in trauma, attachment issues, suicide and self-harm, parent support, fostering and adoption among other issues. I am also interested in the therapeutic use of creative writing and other forms of creative expression. In addition to my work at the Rainbow Project I am a sessional counsellor for the TESSA project (Therapeutic Education Support Services in Adoption) and have a small private practice.

 

Paul Campbell (he/him): Co-Cultural Counsellor

My name is Paul and I am a qualified counsellor registered with NCS and a long time volunteer with The Rainbow Project. I am very excited be joining the team in Foyle as the Rainbow Youth Counsellor. I’m hoping to draw on my experiences working in student services, counselling in an agency promoting mens health and well-being and counselling/group facilitator for MIND the mental health charity.

Mary Shields (she/her): Co-Cultural Counsellor

Stephaine Magee (She/Her): LGBTQIA+ Family Support Counsellor

Hi i’m Steph and i’ll be working as an LGBTQIA+ Family Support Counsellor. I’m a registered member of the BACP, I have a specialist level 5 in counselling children & young people and am working towards accreditation. I am also studying towards a psychological trauma degree with QUB and WAVE.

I have counselling experience with PIPS and MACS and continue to volunteer my time in working with teenagers along side Friends Forever International as an alumni.

Jenny Trainor (She/Her): Co-Cultural Counsellor

I have been a Counsellor for 15 years and became accredited by the BACP in 2012, I specialise in clients who suffer from low self-esteem, depression and anxiety issues and those who have been bereaved generally or by suicide. I also support those who feel suicidal and who are self-harming. My other speciality is working with adolescence and young adults (11-18 year olds) with the array of issues presented to them in todays society. Coming to counselling may be difficult decision to make so I provide a friendly, caring, non-judgemental environment to help you achieve your goals.

Lisa Kelly (She/Her): Art Psychotherapist.

Hello I’m Lisa, I’m a HCPC registered art psychotherapist. In addition to being a sessional art therapist with the rainbow project, I currently work with Newpin, supporting families and The Play Therapies Center supporting LAC children through art therapy.

Art therapy can allow clients to tap into their subconscious and begin processing their experiences without needing to find words straightaway. I feel inspired and grateful for this process every day. 

When I’m not working, I usually go for walks with my dog and my partner, paint portraits, eat or watch my beloved Leeds United. 

Simon Carmichael (They/Them): Family and Young Person Counsellor

I am qualified counsellor and registered member of the BACP and working towards my accreditation. Having previously worked with adults and young people in a local community counselling agency, I particularly value working with young trans and non-binary people. I remember how difficult it was finding my place in the world when the language for people like me didn’t exist, and want to use my clinical and personal experience to enable young trans and non-binary people access therapy without needing to educate their therapist while still trying to figure themselves out. Outside of therapy I am an Officer in a local Trade Union Branch, and an insufferable nerd.

Finance and Sustainability Team

Ann Davison (She/Her): Finance Administrator

Hello, my name is Ann and I work for The Rainbow Project in the role of Finance Officer. I am based in the Belfast Office. I have worked in administration for many years in various roles, from being a landlady in a small hotel to working for the Education Sector.

I am have a keen interest in being self-aware and looking after people’s mental health, wellbeing and happiness.

I love to attend concerts, theatres, visit art galleries, museums, historical buildings and feel my best when taking long walks by the sea.

Health and Wellbeing Team

Colleen O'Neill

Colleen O’Neill (She/They): Youth Development Officer

Get in touch with me via email: colleen@rainbow-youth.org

I’m 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 I’m a keen activist involved in local and regional campaigns. I love travelling, reading and crafting!

Eimear Willis (She/Her/Hers): Western Health and Wellbeing Officer 

Get in touch with me via e-mail: eimear@rainbow-project.org

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 manage our adult support services in the North West. We provide peer support groups, social spaces, counselling, workshops & programmes as well as organising events throughout the year. We also assist with Housing, Hate Crime and Benefits as well as any concerns in the workplace or college/university. I provide Rapid HIV & Syphilis testing from our Derry office, and can offer free HPV Self-Sampling packs.

If you are looking for more info or support, you can contact me on eimear@rainbow-project.org.

When I’m not in work I’m likely in my van somewhere with my partner, our dogs and our friends or hanging out with the circus.

Leo Lardie (He/Him): Sexual Health Development Officer

Get in touch with me via e-mail: leo@rainbow-project.org 

I’m Leo, our sexual health development officer. I’m responsible for providing rapid HIV & syphilis testing at our Belfast & Foyle centres for trans and non-binary individuals or men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men. But I can provide rapid testing for anyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity if they’re at risk of HIV or they’re in distress about their HIV status. I am here to help you with friendly, non-judgemental and confidential advice or support regarding any sexual health matter whether that’s PEP, PrEP, safer sex materials, testing or STIs. I proudly run ‘BeU’ our online meet-ups for trans, non-binary and intersex people who are aged eighteen and over.

Mardi Kennedy (She/Her) Regional Health and Well-being Officer

Get in touch with me via email: Mardi@rainbow-project.org

As Regional Health and Wellbeing Officer, Mardi facilitates LGBTQIA+ peer and social support meetups throughout rural areas for adults aged 18+ throughout Northern Ireland. Get in touch with Mardi to find out where the groups will be located and come along and meet other LGBTQIA+ people for fun workshops, social outings and more! Contact mardi@rainbow-project.org for more information.

Ren McGuickan: Regional Health and Wellbeing Officer.

Get in touch with me via email: ren@rainbow-project.org

Hi, I’m Ren and I work for The Rainbow Project as a Regional Health and Wellbeing Officer. My job includes facilitating LGBTQIA+ peer and social support meetups in rural areas for adults aged 18+ throughout Northern Ireland. For more information about our groups or to get involved check out rainbow-project.org/regional-lgbt-groups or email ren@rainbow-project.org. Through our groups you’ll get to meet lots of other LGBTQIA+ people, get involved in a fun and vibrant community, and be invited to take part in workshops, social outings, and lots of Rainbow Project events.

Robin Deehan (He/Him): Rainbow Youth Support Worker Foyle

Hi I’m Robin, I am a new part-time youth support worker of Rainbow Youth in the Foyle LGBT+ Youth centre. I tend to spend most of my spare time either reading, playing various video games or playing with my cat, Rose, who ironically is the stinkiest cat alive.

Xavier Beardswood(They/Them): Rainbow Youth Support Worker Foyle

Hi! I’m Xavier and I’m a youth support worker for Rainbow Youth – a project for LGBTQ+ young people in the North West which is based in the Foyle LGBTQ+ Centre. I have been involved in The Rainbow Project for a number of years, starting out as a young participant, progressing to a volunteer role and now a youth support worker role. In my free time I enjoy listening to music and spending time outdoors. I love animals, especially bees and my two cats Polo and Pean

Policy and Advocacy Team

Joe Walsh (He/Him): LGBTQIA Hate Crime Advocacy Officer and Family ties worker

Get in touch with me via email: advocacy@rainbow-project.org

Hi, I’m Joe Walsh, I am the Hate Crime Advocacy Officer which functions in partnership with the Department of Justice; Police Service of Northern Ireland and Victim Support Northern Ireland. My role is to support victims of homophobic and/or transphobic hate crime. 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. If you need help reporting a hate crime, or would like to access the Rainbow Project Services you can contact me on 07904864957

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