About us

Who we are and what we do

CASSS aims to bring counselling and therapy services together, to discuss the main issues in counselling and therapy and help to move the sector forward. We also aim to inform the public about counsellling and therapy.

CASSS first started in 2013 with several agencies meeting together, to network and share ideas and information. We now have therapy agencies and Colleges/Training Providers meeting together on a regular basis, to help support the development of therapy services. CASSS itself is a registered charity run by several trustees, who have knowledge and experience in the counselling and therapy sector.

At present we have agency networking meeting every two months, to share information and network. CASSS also publishes a monthly newsletter, giving regular updates on the sector locally and nationally. It organises CPD and mental health events, for the public to meet with agencies and discuss issues. Further activities are planned, to help develop the sector further and improve support provided to the community.

Our aim is to help develop counselling services which are:

  • Well Trained and High Quality
  • Resourced
  • Connected
  • Visible and Accessible

The vision is to make Southend and Essex a centre of excellence, for community talking therapies.


Current Trustees

Donna Kilday


I have worked both nationally and locally for various mental health and support organisations, and I worked as a support worker for isolated individuals in the local community during Lockdown, in person, online, via the telephone and through various social channels.

I work within SEND and I am also a student BACP registered counsellor, volunteering as a counsellor in my free time.

I strongly believe that creating an atmosphere of non-judgement and positive regard from the therapist towards their client, can be a transformative experience for individuals who may otherwise feel lost and isolated.

I am pleased to be a Trustee for CASSS, whose vision is to make Southend and Essex a centre of excellence for Talking Therapies. I believe people are discovering the benefits of therapy, now more than ever.

Angela Dress (Chair)

I’m Angela, the current Chair of the board of Trustees for CASSS. I believe that access to mental health support is so important for everyone. So when Nick came around looking for people to sign up as trustees for CASSS, I was more than happy to do so.


In the wake of COVID and with current cost of living pressures, improving and facilitating access to talking therapies feels more important than ever in order to support those who are struggling, which we all do from time to time.  Our aims are to improve communication between the counselling sector and related services, improve training and professional development opportunities for counsellors and to identify and promote best practice in the sector.


I’ve benefitted hugely from therapy throughout my life, so if I can be part of an organisation that seeks to improve access to talking therapies then I feel like I’m making myself useful! We want CASSS to be known as a trusted source of information for all things counselling in and around Southend. Whether that be guidance for student counsellors looking for placements, or providing comprehensive and up to date listings, for counselling and other therapeutic services to benefit our communities.

Karen Sutton

My name is Karen, I chose to become a trustee of CASSS as I am passionate that counselling is available for all people. Regardless of whether they are people who have a regular income and can afford therapy, to others who may not have a job, a place to live and no income. People who have low incomes or no income are often the people who need some counselling more often. But without the finances they are left to wait in the queues of charities, before they are seen.


Tragically these people often do not get the help until it is too late. They then find themselves in a position where it is not an option but a necessity. This is because their mental health has deteriorated so much, they may have found themselves in trouble with the law or even been in hospital for sectioning.


After working in a prison environment for over 20 years, I often found myself teaching these people who had fallen through the cracks of counselling charities. Quite often these people were so mentally ill, they had committed crimes to keep themselves alive for food or unfortunately their own addictions. These addictions are often due to them self-medicating, to take away the pain unhappiness and memories of their lives.


This is why I chose to become a trustee for CASSS, so these people will have a chance in life.

Volunteer Role

Nick Chard - Nominated Therapeutic Services Coordinator

I moved to Essex in 2003, to work for Southend Borough Council as a Connexions Targeted Personal Advisor. The role involved me helping teenagers to access education and employment by removign any barriers. This was a great experience as I was able to work with many different presenting issues and see the work of many different teams and organisations, from benefits to housing and teenage pregnancy. My role has now moved to working as a Careers Adviser for Southend Council, working in various schools in Essex.

I finished my training as a counsellor in 2007 and set up a charity to work with children and families, with several other who qualified with me. It was whilst working for and later running the charity, I realised there was no organisation working to help other similar agencies comunicate with each other and with other non therapy services. I therefore started running interagency network meetings in 2013, eventually leading to the development of CASSS in its current form.

Are you interested in counselling and talking therapies? Would you like to get involved in helping to develop therapeutic services for the future? Have you considered being a trustee for CASSS?

CASSS is currently looking for more trustees, to help the running of the charity. If you would like to get involved, please contact us on the contact page.

Support us

If you wish to support CASSS in it's work to develop therapy services in Southend and Essex, please contact us on this website, to express your interest.


If you wish to make a donation to CASSS, please contact us to discuss. By supporting CASSS you are helping a wide range of agencies to provide counselling and therapy to the community.