Counselling service now available!

Behind the Mask

Why we created Unmasked

Mental health comprises our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects how we feel, think and act. It also is a determinant of how we handle stress. Thus, it is very important at every stage of life.

People who have good health can still have underlying emotional problems and mental health problems. This can be caused by a physical imbalance in the brain, stress, family problems and stressful work/education can make it worse.

With an estimated 1 in 4 people experiencing some form of mental illness, it’s probable that you, or one of your loved ones, could be living with a mental health issue in silence.

Here at Unmasked Mental Health, our goal is simple, through our Hubs, Counselling Services and our Training provision, we want to provide safe, stable and regulated environments where people who are suffering from poor mental health can communicate with each other, get professional support and to educate employers and others on how to support people who may be struggling. 

We are proud to partner with many other organisations within the communities we operate. Unmasked are a social prescriber service working in partnership with NHS England which means you can be referred to us for support directly from your GP.

Who we are

Leon Carford

Chair of the Board

Leon has extensive experience of providing independent value and oversight having amassed over 16 years of experience, gained predominantly within the financial service sector.

Leon has trained in Law, Accountancy, Project Management and Cyber Security and prides himself on bringing a well-rounded skill set and fresh thinking to challenges. Leon is a trained Mental Health First Aider and a public speaker on Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion.

Leon is a proud northerner, with mixed English and Caribbean heritage, and grew up in Sheffield. After graduating from the University of London with a Law degree and working for a short while in the legal profession, Leon joined accountancy firm Deloitte as an Internal Auditor. He worked for clients across several sectors, before moving into Banking and Insurance.

Leon joined Insurance Broker, Towergate, as an Internal Audit Manager in 2016 and established their Manchester Internal Audit team. Towergate latterly became the Ardonagh Group and Leon was promoted to Senior Internal Audit Manager in 2020.

Leon joined Atlanta Group in July 2021 as Head of Risk & Compliance, with a focus on Assurance and integrating newly acquired businesses.

Stuart Rumney

Vice Chair

Stuart spent over 40 years at Lloyds Banking Group as a Director before taking on the challenge of Calderdale Smartmove’s Chief Executive and subsequent Chairman.  

Stuart brings an invaluable wealth of experience and talent to our team. 

His hobbies include spending time in his holiday home and walking.

Mel Stead

Chief Executive & Trustee

Mel is the Chief Executive of Unmasked Mental Health.  Mel joined Unmasked as a Trustee and Director in 2022 after volunteering for the organisation for several years.  In July 2023 Mel took on the role of Chief Executive to help driver the organisations growth.

In addition to this, Mel is Managing Director of Optimal HR & Optimal Recruitment Services. Mel has over 30 years’ experience in HR & Organisation Design and worked in both UK & global roles at Executive level before setting up her own Outsourcing business which has gone from strength to strength.

Over the last 10 years Mel has worked with Clients focused on transformational change or who are going through some form of significant challenge. She has extensive experience in mergers & acquisitions and integration programmes, business modelling & redesign (Organisation Design) and building or restructuring HR functions. Her sector experience includes Financial Services, Manufacturing & Engineering, Education, Retail, Transportation, Legal and Insurance Services and Social Housing to name a few.

Mel has a real passion for supporting people with poor mental health ensuring they have the right support in place to support their well-being and to educate employers on how to support their employees.

Andy Nelson

Trustee and Non-Executive Director

Andy is a Glaswegian who moved his family to Yorkshire 12 years ago. He discovered a set a values and a warmth from the people in Yorkshire which aligns with his personal values.

Having worked in Financial Services for over 25 years across a range of leadership roles he is keen to use his Finance, Risk, Data, and Leadership knowledge and experience to support UMH in achieve its vision to provide practical support to those facing mental health challenges in the local area.

He is acutely aware of the need for simple and straightforward interventions that offer practical support to individuals as they seek to cope with the increasingly challenging environment we all face these days, and recognises that mental health challenges are likely to touch everyone of us in some guise, personally or through family and friends.

He is passionate about the opportunity to strengthen and help Unmasked Mental Health grow and seek to support as many people as possible. 

Dominic Furby

Trustee and Non-Executive Director

Dominic worked for WYFRS for 26 Years and retired as Assistant divisional Commander Calderdale 2018.  His current role is the CEO of BHT Education and was previously Deputy CEO of Calderdale SmartMove.  Dom is passionate about supporting people who suffer from poor mental health and works tirelessly with various organisations across Calderdale to build sustainable working partnerships.

When not busy at work, Dom is fully occupied bringing up his four children. Coordinating all of their interests and activities can be a full-time job in itself but if he does get the chance, he enjoys walking and football when he gets the time.

Sharna McWilliams

Company Secretary and Non-Executive Director

Sharna was born in Australia and moved to Calderdale at a young age.  She is a Recruitment Consultant and is known as a social butterfly given her charismatic, and gregarious character.

Sharna has been involved with mental health through supporting family and friend for many years and is very much aware of the demand for high quality services to support those suffering from poor mental health. 

When not busy at work, Sharna can be found spending time with her partner, walking or socialising with friends.  

Declan Wadcock

Trustee & Non-Executive Director

Declan was born in Calderdale and has two grown up daughters.

Having spent over 30 years as a Director in Sales and Marketing within the print industry, he is now a Business Consultant supporting organisations with their sales strategies.  

Declan is passionate about bringing awareness to poor mental health and ensuring there is better support available at the point of need to those who are struggling.    

Declan enjoys spending time with his daughters, playing golf and walking his two King Charles spaniels.


Jo Core

Operations Director

Hi, I’m Jo, and I’m the Director of Operations. 

I also have a number of other very important titles including wife, auntie, daughter, sister, step-mum, grandma, friend, and mum to two very spoiled cats (George and Bruce)

I spent 33 years working for Halifax / HBoS / Lloyds Banking Group before being made redundant two years ago.  I loved my time there doing roles such as Project Manager, Programme Manager and Trainer.  I was also the Mental Health First Aider.

After leaving there, I had the great privilege of being able to work for Calderdale SmartMove and loved being part of a charity that made such a huge difference to vulnerable people.

The move to Unmasked is such an exciting challenge for me. I’m passionate about the organisation and what it does, and I am truly honoured to become part of such an incredible team.

In my spare time I’m the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Magpies, I’m a Reiki practitioner, and I’m a qualified T’ai Chi instructor.

Lynsey Judson

Business Training Co-Ordinator

I’m Lynsey, I’m the Business Training Co-Ordinator at Unmasked Mental Health.

I am a qualified counsellor who has life experience of poor mental health and coming out the other side. I am passionate about the support and hardwork required in the Mental Health world and seem to enhance my enthusiasm for my work with humour and good spirit.

I’m a down to earth soul, born and bred in Halifax and hoping to make a difference to those who access our services at Unmasked Mental Health.

Shirley Higham

Counselling Lead

I’m Shirley, and I’m the Manager of the Counselling Service at Unmasked Mental Health.

I spent many of my younger years either in education (which includes but is not limited to; Nursing and Social Work Training, BSc (Hons) Behavioural Science) together with customer facing roles working my way up through the ranks in some. Each of these experiences enabled me to engage in my favourite activity – being with, talking with, learning, laughing and sharing hard times with others. In short, people have always fascinated me, and I learnt from an early age that no two people are the same and that people and relationships are vitally important to me.

I have been a qualified counsellor with my own private practice for many years, the decision to train to be a counsellor was one I was focussed on achieving after life threw a few curveballs. The training was intense and hard on so many levels but it was worth it and I would not change a thing.

Through a combination of employment, training and volunteering I have been fortunate enough to walk alongside people who have or are facing their own adversity or challenges, who need the opportunity to pause, reflect, heal and grow – delivering this in both a professional, ethical and compassionate way.

I see being part of Unmasked Mental Health as a platform for me to not only support the individual, but to support and guide other members of the team who value people as I do, in not only achieving their own personal aims but in supporting others to do the same. My work with Unmasked Mental Health and what it offers each person and in turn the community, compliments my private practice and offers fresh insights to my professional and personal development.

Paula Dews

Volunteer & Hub Co-Ordinator

I’m Paula. I had a long career with Lloyds Bank for 25 years whilst I raised my family of 2 boys who are now grown up. 2 years ago, I decided it was time for a change to do something I am passionate about and I joined Calderdale SmartMove as a Community Engagement Officer. I am now very excited to have joined the Unmasked Mental Health team as a Hub Coordinator.

I have a passion for helping others and to do a job that allows me to do this is an honour.

In my spare time I love hiking, going to the gym and cooking.

I love a challenge and have completed the Yorkshire 3 peaks 6 times and skydived a couple of times. I am always on the look out for the next challenge and something to add to the bucket list.

Gail Jeffreys

Service Support Manager

I’m Gail, I have over 20 years of experience working within the charity sector at both Home-Start Calderdale and Calderdale SmartMove. My experience is in finance and office management whilst fully supporting the charitable objectives.  I have also spent a period of time working within the finance department at Calderdale Council. I am very passionate about the well-being of everyone, and I feel honored to become part of the team here at Unmasked Mental Health as Service Support Manager.

I feel lucky to have a daughter who is grown up and I’m proud to call her my best friend, a partner who is super supportive, as well as my gorgeous family (I’m 1 of 8 siblings!) and being from a large family, I have many nephews and nieces to treat! Then of course my doggie, Zuki, who is a Weimaraner with lots of energy so we’re walking up on the moors quite a bit. I love travelling the world yet there is still so much more to see, let the adventures continue!

Who we work with

Who we're funded by