Find out more about the VRA's Trustees

Julie Denning


Dr Julie Denning is a Chartered Health Psychologist with over 17 years’ experience of working in the vocational rehabilitation sector.  She has designed and delivered work focused services to support people with long term conditions including, persistent pain, cancer, chronic fatigue and mental health to return to work when ready.  As Managing Director for Working To Wellbeing she is responsible for the design and delivery of VR services that are multi and interdisciplinary in approach.  She manages and clinically supervises a team of Occupational Health Physiotherapists, Cognitive Behavioral Therapists and Occupational Therapists.  She has experience of providing services within the insurance, occupational health and business to business sectors.

As an ACPOHE tutor and lecturer she trains Physiotherapists to improve their communications skills with their patients by applying a biopsychosocial approach and using the most up-to-date psychological interventions in order to improve clinical outcomes with their patients.  This includes a strong work focus.  Julie also lectures at Kings College London on their BSc Physiotherapy course, MSc Health Psychology and BScI for medical students on topics including, communication skills, work and health, stress management and leadership.


Andrea Collin


Andrea has been an Occupational Therapist since 2011. Upon graduating from York St John University Andrea started to work in the Welfare to Work sector. Having worked in the Northeast for both Ingeus and then Northern Rights, both of which deliver work related programs on behalf of the Department for Work & Pensions, Andrea has supported many of her clients to manage their health conditions and go into or regain employment, and importantly to sustain that employment.

Initially, Andrea worked predominately with clients who had mental health conditions including, anxiety, depression, stress & panic. She delivered one on one support and facilitated group workshops around condition management with a clear aim of returning to the workplace.

Andrea now works as a health advisor and supports her clients with both mental and physical health barriers to returning to the workplace. Ensuring clients have a clear goal and a plan in place to help them make the steps needed to move into the workplace is an important part of Andreas working.

Each year Andrea supports 2 final year Occupational Therapy students on their final work placement within the Vocational Rehabilitation sector at her workplace, Northern Rights. Andrea has also started to guest speak at universities and secondary schools in the region promoting the career of Occupational Therapy and the specialist area of Vocational Rehabilitation.


Monica Garcia 


Monica is a Disability Insurance and Workplace Wellbeing Consultant, bringing a combination of clinical, vocational, research, and insurance experience, to promote and champion best practice in the UK’s Income Protection (IP) market. Through her work with insurers, employers, and third-party providers, Monica leads the development of evidence-based health initiatives to improve customers’ wellness and work outcomes.

Monica also has an active role in industry initiatives, speaking at conferences, panel debates, and with publications, addressing the non-technical aspects of disability insurance risk management, improving access to insurance, and promoting the benefits of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). In her latest publication, she co-authored the Access to Insurance education guide on Income Protection, published by the Chartered Institute of Insurers  (CII), which highlights the role the VRA plays in raising professional standards in the provision of VR, within IP.

Back in 2001, Monica completed her undergraduate and postgraduate education in London, with a specialist research interest related to the role of beliefs and social factors in the recovery process, with a particular focus on work stress and the role of resilience. Monica maintains her interest in mental health issues related to her home country, Bolivia, and has published in the Journal of International Psychiatry. “Mental Health in the Plurinational State of Bolivia” (2011) Vol 8 No 4.


Sharon Patmore


Sharon Patmore is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with over 25 years of experience of supporting people who experience a range of health and disability-related difficulties, including mental health. She is an Associate Fellow of the BPS and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a Practicing Occupational Psychologist. She is also a Professional Member of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association.

Sharon has experience of working in the Public, Private and Charitable sectors and has a background in HR, Training and Development that spans over 30 years across a wide range of sectors, providing a strong focus on supporting people to develop and thrive in work.  She has extensive experience in psychometric assessments using these for recruitment and transitioning purposes, including assisting members of HM Armed Forces in their transition to Civvy Street after having been wounded or injured.

Since the start of the pandemic, she has trained over 800 managers in understanding how to better support their teams with their mental health and wellbeing, which enable them to cope better during these uncertain times. She has been able to help others understand the full extent of psychological difficulties experienced by employees, including the implications of transitioning to working at home, returning to the workplace, changes in the structure of employment and the impact of COVID-10 physically, cognitively and psychologically within the work context.



Helen Valls-Russell



Helen is an experienced Occupational Therapist and Director of Ergocom, heading up a UK-wide team of multidisciplinary health professionals who provide specialist assessments and vocational case management, supporting insurers, employers, and their employees to achieve successful return to work outcomes after illness and injury.

She has many years of experience working in vocational rehabilitation, in both the public and private sector. In 2021 her training course for new and aspiring Vocational Rehabilitation practitioners won the VR Project Award.




Beverly Knops Dip COT, MRCOT



Beverly is a Specialist Occupational Therapist with more than thirty years’ experience. She has spent the majority of her career working with people experiencing persistent pain and fatigue. She worked in North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) for twenty-nine years, starting in the rheumatology service, then moving into the Specialist Pain and ME/CFS services. She also spent a period of nine years working one day a week for the Bath Paediatric ME/CFS service, developing her knowledge and expertise in this age group. In 2012, Beverly started work as an associate therapist with Vitality360, a private company working exclusively with people experiencing pain and fatigue. She now leads this specialist team full-time. Beverly is a trustee of the British Association of Clinicians working in ME/CFS (BACME) and is passionate about sharing knowledge and skills with other health professionals.



Mary Finn


Mary Finn is a Certified Disability Management Practitioner working in the disability arena since 2002 across a variety of roles from assisting individuals who struggled to find or maintain employment, to supporting employers on-board and retain staff.

As Managing Director of Connect4Work based in Ireland, Mary focusses on providing tailored supports for businesses to retain employees who are at risk of absence to Stay-At or Return-To work in a safe, timely and sustainable manner.

Connect4Work derives its name from the collaborative approach Mary takes in delivering the service, liaising with Employers, Employees and Health Care professionals – all connected together and working toward a common outcome of sustainable work.

Mary has been a member of the VRA since 2019 and believes that work can be a health outcome – indeed, good work is important to a person’s health, it is part of their identity and nobody wants to lose that.

Mary maintains continuous professional development through regular training with particular attention to mental health challenges in the workplace and is a Mental Health First Aider.

Kirsty Stobbs


Kirsty is an experienced Occupational Therapist, and after graduating from Oxford Brookes University, she worked within the NHS, in both acute mental health inpatient and rehabilitation units, designing and delivering a range of therapeutic interventions and programmes, including symptom management and skills workshops to support individuals to access voluntary and paid roles.

Kirsty moved into the insurance sector 13 years ago, working within group income protection, and has a wealth of experience of working with employees, employers and healthcare professionals to support individuals to return to, or remain in work whilst managing varying health conditions. Having completed her masters in Contemporary Occupational Therapy, Kirsty has a keen interest in the psychosocial elements for individuals absent from work and has been a guest lecturer focusing on vocational rehabilitation and the biopsychosocial elements, exploring avenues to support individuals to remain in or return to work and thrive at work.

She has a keen interest in learning and development, actively creating and delivering training sessions to support others in their development and she is a is also a Certified Disability management Practitioner and Mental Health first aider.