Robert Dighton first started working at ELHAP in 1989 as a playworker. He then qualified in play therapy and worked at the Whipps Cross Hospital Psychological Support Service for over eight years where he specialised in childhood trauma, grief and loss. For over four years, Robert served as the programme convenor for the Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Play Therapy at Roehampton University.
Robert returned to work at ELHAP in 2005. In 2018, he completed his MSc in Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent. Robert is now working on his PhD at the Tizard Centre, researching the implementation of PBS. His entire career has focussed on the importance of children’s play in promoting physical and mental well-being. Robert has been the CEO of ELHAP for over sixteen years and started job sharing with Johanna Merry in May 2018.
Johanna Merry first started work at ELHAP in 1987 as a volunteer and then a relief play worker. She went on to gain extensive experience across the social care sector in both children’s and adults services, developing a wide range of innovative projects with successful outcomes. Johanna established SeaChange Advocacy in 2009 to provide independent consultancy across London and Essex and has supported teams at every level to improve performance and transform services. She also worked for Barnardos for 29 years in various roles and has a background in Inclusive Theatre.
Johanna is a specialist trainer focusing on communication and empowering support for people with learning disabilities. As an advocacy consultant Johanna has supported families in adverse situations; including Family Court proceedings and has broad experience of complex safeguarding cases. Johanna was a trustee at ELHAP for 11 years before becoming ELHAP CEO in May 2018 – a role she job shares with Robert Dighton.
Rachel Joseph joined ELHAP in 2016 as Head of Development. Since joining the team, she has been focusing on raising ELHAP's profile and developing a range of income streams to ensure we are financially sustainable in the long-term. Rachel has worked in fundraising management for the last 18 years, and has worked for a range of national and international charities, including Cancer Research UK, Bowel Cancer UK and Children of the Andes. Rachel was born and raised in East London and feels privileged to be part of an organisation that is providing such a vital benefit to this area of London.
Cathy was employed in various administration positions throughout her working career. She was General Manager at a City conference centre for 21 years, with a staff pool of 15 employees. Before joining ELHAP in September 2017, Cathy worked at an independent school in a Facilities and Health & Safety capacity, and has extensive experience of policies and procedures within a child specific environment.
Cathy brings with her a wealth of organisational skills and staff welfare is high on her radar.
Nirmol began his journey at ELHAP as a volunteer in March 2011 and then worked regularly was a playworker on the playground. Nirmol completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences at Kings College, London. From 2016 Nirmol began working on the Orchard Project as an Activity Worker and since 2020 as a Team Leader helping coordinate the Orchard Project.
Over the years Nirmol has gained a vast knowledge and experience working with children, young people and adults both at ELHAP services and other projects across London.