About us

Compass Recovery College is a mental health and wellbeing organisation based in Reading, Berkshire, UK, commissioned by Reading Borough Council.

We provide free workshops and social groups for anyone in the area aged 18 or over who may be affected directly or indirectly by mental health or wellbeing challenges. Everyone is welcome and everyone is a participant. So whether you are struggling yourself, or perhaps you are a carer, family member or professional who would like to know more about mental health and wellbeing, we can help.

We start from a place of hope, with the belief that learning about our mental health and wellbeing with the right tools can give us more control for the future. We believe that self-management and making the most of our strengths can help us recover from challenges and become experts in our own wellbeing. With a variety of workshops delivered by staff and peer support volunteers with lived experience of mental health challenges, we hope you’ll find the way we do things refreshingly different.

Our philosophy

A safe space

We provide a supportive, friendly environment, where participants can learn and share experiences and ideas in confidence and comfort in order to develop skills for life.


We will do our best to meet the needs of every participant that wishes to develop and take control to manage their life.

Open to all

We welcome anyone aged 18 or over with lived experience of mental illness or life challenges, as well as their friends, family, carers, mental health practitioners and clinicians.


All workshops are developed and delivered by people who can call upon their own lived experience of mental health and life issues, together with clinically trained staff.

This is at the heart of the Recovery College and supports a diverse perspective on living with mental health challenges.

Meet the core team

Lara Stavrinou, Compass Manager

Lara started in 2020 and is thrilled to have joined the Compass team to help build on its strengths, widen the type of courses offered and reach people who may otherwise struggle to keep well. Lara is keen to reach new communities and co-produce courses which challenge, engage and excite people. Lara has a background in working with charities, commissioning, and the arts. She is passionate about Pilates, mindfulness and yoga in her spare time and also loves to bake with her son.

Mauricha White, Business Support Officer

Mauricha has been part of the Compass Recovery College since it was created in 2015 and has seen it continue to flourish and provide support over the years. With a background in care and public services, Mauricha is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the college and supporting the wider team. She enjoys drinking tea, Zumba classes and taking long weekend walks with her family, friends and dog, Pip.

Fiona Finn, Recovery Worker

Fiona has been with the team since 2019. She has a background in social and therapeutic horticulture along with community development. Fiona leads on our outdoor activities and supports Five Ways to Wellbeing, Owning My Recovery and some of the new creativity initiatives. She is also involved in outreach to community groups to raise our profile and help us better understand how we can meet the needs of local people. She likes introducing individuals to Compass through our enrolment process and helping them identify the next stage on their recovery journey. When not at work, Fiona enjoys cooking, reading, gardening and looking at art when she gets the opportunity.

Mark Dibben, Peer Recovery Worker

Mark joined Compass as a service user in 2015 accessing the Hearing Voices to receive help with his voices, after a series of challenges left him with a long period of hospitalisations, therapy, and recovery. After attending many Compass courses, Mark commenced Volunteering with the team in February 2017 and has recently joined the team full-time as a Peer Recovery Worker. Mark is passionate about sharing his lived experience and the difficulties he faced to help Compass students on their journey of recovery, and very much enjoys his role as a co-facilitator and being involved with the co-production of courses. Mark is a keen runner and enjoys the social inclusiveness of running with friends, he’s hoping to run 5km every day for 2021.

George Wiseman, Recovery Worker

George joined in 2021 and entering his third year of study at the University of Reading for a BSc in Psychology. He is keen to share both his lived experiences and knowledge around mental health difficulties from his studies so far to support participants. He is supporting on multiple courses, including but not exclusively, Introduction to Anxiety, Grieving Losses, Being Kinder to Ourselves and Theatre and Creative Writing Workshops. He is enthusiastic about electropop music, looking after his four cacti and drinking tea

Ashley Hitchman, Recovery Worker

Ashley is the newest member to the team but far from new to Compass. After a difficult time, he joined as a participant in 2016, attending a few courses with us as a starting point for his recovery in the hopes of living a happy and comfortable life with his ASD diagnosis. He joined the team as a volunteer and is a passionate advocate supporter of people with ASD. Ashley’s experiences as a trainer and a communicator have brought him onto the team for community outreach.

In Ashley’s spare time he’s an avid Star Wars fan, spends a lot of time with his dog Charlie and spends most of his time socialising with others.