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Maggie Gallant

My name is Maggie Gallant. I am the Managing Director and Service Development Manager for SpeakUpCIC. I previously managed the service when the former East Kent User Forum was hosted by Thanet MIND and later by Rethink Mental Illness. I grew this business with support from Service Users, Volunteers and Stakeholders from the forum which began in 1992.

Over the last 19 years the forum grew from strength to strength and developed into the popular service it is today. In order to continue to develop and to meet the local needs for Mental Health Recovery I established a Community Interest Company (SpeakUpCIC) in February 2011 with the additional aims of maintaining genuine involvement of Mental Health Service Users allowing Service Users to shape their services.

When I started out on my own recovery journey 20 years ago, user forums in this part of Kent did not exist and that is where it all started. With my own experience of the mental health services and the difficulties I had trying to make my own voice heard when unwell, I knew I wanted to make a difference to other people and that is what I have set out to do, in partnership with other users and organisations.

Clare Wright

Clare lived in Thanet until 2006 when she worked on local re-generation projects and community and business engagement. A Chartered Town Planner, Clare has a local authority and non-profit background, is Director of her own planning consultancy and Founding Director of Community Spirit Partnership CIC. Clare has personal experience of mental health issues.

Ian Cater-Chapman

Ian has been a member of the User Forum since 1993, having faced mental health challenges since the age of 12. Born in Margate, Ian is a life-long resident of Thanet, and has worked in various cinemas across Kent as well as at Ramsgate's Tourist Information Centre.

A long-time supporter of diversity and LGBTQ equality, Ian was involved with Canterbury Pride and Thanet Gay Pride, both as a steward and an organiser from 2006 to 2010.

Iris Johnston

Councillor Iris Johnston (63), Married to Michael with 5 grown up children and 4 grandchildren. Thanet District Councillor since 1995 and Cabinet Member for Community Services. Chairman of the North Thanet Labour Party. I was very pleased when Maggie asked me to be a Director as I knew the excellent work she had been doing over many years in supporting people who need a helping hand through an illness that often doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

I first became aware of someone with a breakdown when I was about 10 years old. A much loved Aunt had been through a very traumatic time and became so ill she came to stay with our family. I felt even then that there wasn't enough understanding of why she was so depressed. That experience has stayed with me and later in life as a District Councillor I have come across many people worn down by their life experiences who need someone to Speak up for them.

Secretary - Julie Cannon

Hello, my name is Julie Cannon and I am the Secretary on the committee. I have known Maggie and been involved with the forum in many different ways right from its very beginning in 1992 I have seen the forum grow in a variety of ways and directions and its great to see that its still going strong and so well supported.

I am very interested in all issues to do with mental health and well being and worked in a variety of settings within it as well as being a volunteer. My health no longer enables me to do as much as I once did but I enjoy keeping in touch with the project through Maggie and sitting on the Committee. My greatest interest and love is my family, including my rescue dog Rose, and they bring me much joy and happiness, and I'm glad that they are around to help, support and encourage me and I try to do the same for them.

Committee Members

Anne Shephard

I am a member of the Service Advisory Group Committee for SpeakUpCIC. I have known Maggie Gallant since 1990 when the first user forum was established. I later became a User Forum Worker for Dover, Deal and Ashford and completed a teaching certificate with Maggie. I then became a Tutor for Adult Education until my Mental Health deteriorated. I am dedicated to supporting users to achieve change and hope to challenge the stigma and discrimination that I have experienced, along with many others in the workplace.

Dr. Heather Scott

I am a local GP and have been in Thanet for 13 years I work at Bethesda Medical Centre. My own particular areas of interest have always been working with the local communities and trying to enhance the networking of the Doctors and staff here with local support groups. I have a special interest in vulnerable patients, those with disability, mental health problems and often subsequent substance mis-use issues. I have worked in a voluntary capacity within the Community for almost 10 years trying to support individuals who find accessing health care difficult.

I have been involved with Open Christmas, an organisation which provides support, meals, encouragement and care over the Christmas period to the homeless, vulnerable, lonely and isolated for more than 10 years.

This whole area is a real passion of mine and trying to improve care and help for those who "have no voice" or even just a very small voice is very important to me. I have been very encouraged recently by Thanet task Force, a group of many professionals working together to try to help those within the Community who fall between the net of service support. I think real progress is being made.

I am a member of St Pauls Church and I met Maggie at St Pauls Community Centre at a networking event. I hope I can be of use to the Committee of SpeakUpCIC as I share many of their interests and concerns.

Staff & Volunteers

Amanda Godley

Hello, I’ve been invited to tell you all something about myself! I am an art psychotherapist registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council and have worked in the caring professions more or less since I graduated from Art School in 1983 with my first degree. I worked previously with Children in care in a number of settings before getting involved in Adult Mental Health with the forum in 2007. I first came in to contact with the forum when I became a volunteer. I ran the walk and talk group and also started the art group. Nowadays I am the Project Co-ordinator for the forums and am responsible for the Ashford and Dover and Deal forums whilst being involved with the Thanet group. I love my job and working with people, which is so rewarding. I especially enjoy helping people get involved and also moving on, although it is always sad to say goodbye. Speaking up for those who don’t have a voice at meetings is also very rewarding especially when you see you are making a difference for people. I look forward to seeing you at a meeting sometime in the future!

David Rowden

Hi everyone. I am the administrator for SpeakUpCIC. I first started at SpeakUpCIC as an apprentice. I've since completed my training and am a full member of staff. I take care of the Thanet area, mostly, but I have been known to dip my toe into the other areas. I am an author in my spare time and I use the skills I have there to run a Creative Writing Group in Ashford and Thanet.

John Childs

Hello, my name is John. I am a new Project Worker with SpeakUpCIC. I am responsible for supporting the Forums in the Sandwich, Dover & Deal areas. I have previously worked for Kent County Council's Adult Social Care Department, helping people with physical disabilities and mental health problems to manage their care needs. I am passionate about supporting people to live more independent and fulfilling lives, and have always found this kind of work rewarding. I have experienced mental health problems for most of my adult life, and know how important it is to feel supported by people who know what you are going through. I'm really looking forward to working for SpeakUpCIC, making new friends, and continuing the great work this organisation does in the local community.

Kay Byatt


Tracy Dighton

Hi, I’m Tracy.
I first met Amanda when we organised a World Mental Health Day together in Ashford in 2010. After that I became more involved in helping with SpeakUp’s fundraising and marketing work. I also work with Maggie on business development. The best part of the work is when I get the chance to meet the members and join in. If I lived closer to Margate I’d join the music group.


Hi my name is Debbie Hobson and I prefer to be called Luke. I have recently become a volunteer for Speakupcic in Ashford. I am 37 years old and have been suffering from some form of mental illness for as long as I can remember. Now, with the right kind of therapy, support and medication I feel like I am beginning to start on the road to recovery.

I enjoy meeting new people and sharing my journey with others. I am passionate about reading and love music. I'm am also an avid gamer and have the Wii U and a Nintendo 3DS. I look forward to helping out in SpeakUpCIC and making new friends. I am the user rep for the Ashford area.


My name is Mazza Duplany. I have been a volunteer with SpeakUpCIC for about 2 years. My volunteer role has included suppor1ng SpeakUpCIC at Mental Health Awareness Days. I also run the Bag Ladies Group and am ac1ng leader of the Women's Group. I also volunteer with St John's Church and the Thanet Winter Shelter. I enjoy my volunteer role and helping people. I have a cat called Ebby. If you would like to volunteer please give us a ring.


BIO coming soon

David D

My name is David Dixon . I am an ordinary type of guy with the usual features ! Got over 3 operations and now feel the healthiest for some time - physically and mentally. I enjoy music ( in a choir ), walking / Rambling (been in 2 walking clubs for about 30 plus years ), photography and Speak Up has lifted my spirits beyond expectations after 7 years . I am a new volunteer as a walk leader for the Walk and Talk that runs every week from the Clocktower at 1.00 p.m. I also run a monthly quiz. I have been told that I am a very good quizmaster, so why don’t you come along and find out for yourself.


My name is June and I am 83 years young, one day I went out looking out to join a club after I lost my best friend who was my sister Joy, I wandered into the St Johns Community Centre and I met Maggie Gallant who came out to see me and I was invited in to meet the group and have a cup of tea.

I was thrilled as I was made to feel so welcome. I am now a volunteer with SpeakUpCIC and I make the teas and coffees for the group every Monday. I also go on the walk & talk, we talk about all the things I love to talk about.

My sister and I were in a group called the Westwood Singers and we used to go singing all over the place in a group, we were very popular in our day. It all ended when my sister passed away.


As a service user myself, I'm interested in an open, honest community and trying to make a difference. I'm very interested in Art, and will be Volunteering at the Art Group. I especially love drawing and painting portraits, I also volunteer at a youth group, for kids and young people with special needs, and at a charity shop.

I am married and also have a pet corn snake! I'm very much looking forward to being an active Volunteer with SpeakUpCIC, talking, sharing, being creative and encouraging one another through the highs and lows of day-to-day life.

SpeakUpCIC is an excellent opportunity to make friends and feel supported.


My name is Brian Heard I am a user and a volunteer for SpeakUpCIC. I have been a volunteer for over a year now and I really enjoy my role.

I run a book club, and we have just finished reading Thomas Hardy's book, Jude the Obscure and we will shortly be reading Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

Amongst my other duties, I also chair the forum in Thanet & Dover, and sometimes I chair meetings at the Deal User Forum. I am a forum rep the Mental Health Action Group in Dover and Thanet and I also represent Thanet at the Council of East Kent Service User forums for SpeakUpCIC.

Our forums offer a chance to make new friends in our informal groups, share information and meet new people, come along and help others to benefit from your experience. We look forward to seeing you.


My name is Hazel Malik and I worked at Woolworths for nearly 51 years. I came down to Margate with my mum, grandfather and two sisters in 1957, but I had always visited Margate when I was a little girl.

I volunteer at SpeakUpCIC, I work with David and Brian at the Thanet Gateway Plus and I also attend the Forum at the Beacon. I have also been to meetings with David, such as the Patient's Consultative Committee and a Clinical Commissioning Group meeting.I am here at SpeakUpCIC because I had a bad crisis and Maggie, David and Amanda helped me through it. I would like to help other people when they have a crisis.