About Leyanna the founder

Lived experience

Living for more than 30 years with depression and anxiety that stemmed from childhood experiences, I struggled to come to terms with the loss of a loved one who took their own life.

Leyanna, founder of T Smiles Foundation, Watford, Herts

We don’t ‘get over’ or move on’ from our trauma. We are forced to make space for it.

We carry it. We learn to live with it.

And, sometimes we thrive in spite of it.

Grief led to many years feeling like I was in a fog, unable to see light at the end of the tunnel. A range of issues had arisen in processing such experiences and inter-generational complexities: trauma for which there seemed to be little support. Eventually, I came to a realisation that was I ready to face inner doubts, reclaim my power and to improve my sense of my own self-worth – to begin a process of greater self-awareness and self-acceptance.

I found it such a challenge to draw strength from within, though I made some decisions and took action, step-by-painful-step, that, unwittingly yet ultimately changed my outlook and my life, from surviving to coping to thriving.

I am no longer “stuck”: yet while daily hurdles remain present, every day I feel more content with greater peace of mind. I have released rage and hurt – natural enough to still express deep feelings from time to time – and have come to an acceptance, most importantly, in letting go of a sense of torture: by my past and ‘survival mode’.

Propose – Meaning – Direction

I’ve worked for many years within SEND educational settings, with students aged between 16-24, then 1 to 1 with a 7-year-old in a mainstream school. The students I supported had profound and complex or severe learning difficulties including autism, all of whom struggled with communication barriers which required behavioural support.

The effectiveness led to my promotion as a learning and behaviour mentor, supporting children in the school deemed vulnerable and/or with experience of trauma. I trained as a STEPS tutor, leading the therapeutic approach to learning, subsequently becoming a mental health support worker.

Wider certifications, ongoing continuous training and personal development (CPD):

– Child bereavement
– Trauma awareness
– Working with suicidal clients
– Safeguarding
– Basic counselling skills
– Attachment theory, attachment and loss
– Communication skills and practice
– Concept of loss
– Meaning of grief, grief reactions, dimensions of grief
– Confidentiality and boundaries
– Self-care and awareness

I have also volunteered for Cruse Bereavement Support, offering bereavement support.

What people say about Leyanna

“I have had the privilege of knowing Leyanna since she worked as a teacher for my son (1:1).

At that time, my sons school life was challenging, he was taught in a corner of a hallway, the school was not meeting his needs.

With her passion and knowledge, she made a huge difference for my son. She even supported me with lots of advice and taught me how to understand my sons needs better.

In one year of working with him, Leyanna helped my son to make huge progress.  His meltdowns were nearly zero, attending school full time, interacting with teachers and helped him to make friends. 

She had a strong bond with my son and her love and passion for her job gave my son confidence and a great independence.”


“She (Leyanna) is a brilliant person who has helped me through when I was really struggling. I can’t thank her enough; her empathy, knowledge and understanding will never be forgotten.”