We are an innovative team of therapy, education and product specialists dedicated to creating fun and functional opportunities and resources for picture communication, as well as providing professional support for those who live and work with children and young people who have communication needs.
We are committed to providing excellent products and services that reflect current research and best practice. All our staff are qualified and experienced, and appropriate Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are maintained.
Bethan de Mel
Founder, Head of Therapy, Speech and Language Therapist
Bethan graduated from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh in 2002 with a BSc (hons) Speech Pathology and Therapy. She spent a few years working in her home city, Aberdeen, before moving to Richmond Upon Thames for some 'London' experience. She soon fell in love with more than just the beautiful borough and, apart from a couple of years' 'honeymoon' in Dubai, she has spent the best part of a decade working with local children and young people who have communication needs ranging from specific language impairment to autism and profound learning difficulties and disabilities.
Bethan has previously been employed by the NHS and the private sector overseas. She has worked in a variety of settings, including: mainstream and special schools and units, community clinics and homes, early years and pre-school special needs centres. Throughout her work she has been struck by the need to bring therapy into real life and make a difference where it really matters. Parents would often ask for 'more' and it is with this in mind that she has created Pictologue. Bethan's vision has been recognised and supported by UnLtd, the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and the largest such network in the world.
Bethan has a wealth of clinical expertise and has undertaken specialist training in a variety of approaches and techniques, including: The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Makaton, Hanen, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). She has also participated in further professional development working with selective mutism, autism, Down's syndrome and learning disabilities.
Her approach is naturalistic, keeping the child and their family at the centre of therapy. She is passionate about nurturing and celebrating success and enjoyment in communication and drawing on strengths and interests to support and develop particular areas of need.
Melanie (Mel) Sfatcu
Originally from Romania, Mel Sfatcu relocated to the UK in 2008. She was first inspired to work with children by her grandmother in Romania, who was a local childminder, and this led her to work in an orphanage, where she fell in love with the children there. This early experience of working with disadvantaged children sparked a passion for working in SEN. In the UK, Mel S qualified as a nursery nurse alongside working as a part-time nanny, specialising in looking after children with various special needs. She is currently in the final year of a degree in Early Years Education at the University of Roehampton, where she has been studying part-time for five years. She strongly believes in the importance of play, and that we under-estimate at our peril the potential for children's development through child-initiated play. Beginning as a volunteer alongside her university studies, Mel S joined the staff team as Playroom Manager in February 2017. As playroom Manager she runs the playgroups, schedules playdates, interacts with the children and families and helps with the development and growth of the playroom. She is very excited to be part of Pictologue and to be making a positive change in our community.
Elise is an Australian qualified Speech and Language Therapist who arrived to the UK from Melbourne in June 2016 with her husband and 2 daughters. Since 2005 Elise has run and managed her own private speech therapy practice in Melbourne, and has a particular passion for working with children in the areas of early literacy development and dyslexia. Having worked full-time as a staff member of a large primary school in Melbourne for many years, Elise has the rare experience of working very closely with teachers and in the classroom to help support the literacy program of all primary school year levels. She is extremely passionate about the teaching of literacy and endeavours to continually learn more about what the evidence is showing to be the most effective methods of teaching literacy to our children. She is also a strong advocate for students with dyslexia and is an active member of many Dyslexia Support Groups. Elise is currently completing a Masters in Dyslexia through Dyslexia Action, and is very excited about bringing pictures and play into her work with young children in the early years classrooms.
Elise has undertaken specialist training in a variety of approaches and techniques, including: The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Makaton, Hanen ‘It Takes Two to Talk’.
Tarha Luis Afonso
Tarha is an enthusiastic graduated Primary Teacher by the University of La Laguna, Spain. Her interest in education is rooted as far back as high school when she enjoyed tutoring younger students. Native from Spain, she moved to London in 2012 looking for new goals and achievements. Since then, her love for working with children and young people has led her to a life in childcare. During those 5 years she has enriched herself with many significant and beautiful experiences. Playing and being part of the development and success of children is one of the things that make her happy. She is amazed with the Pictologue philosophy and wanted to contribute with her positive attitude and skills. Tarha became part of Pictologue team in November 2016 as a playroom assistant and she looks forward to see you there soon to welcome you with a warm smile.
Playroom Assistant - Music Therapist
Alison is a retired music therapist with a love for music and children. She has joined the Pictologue team and is offering a weekly play group where children children can gain language skills and confidence through the use of music.
Julie's roots are embedded locally having grown up in Richmond-Upon-Thames. She is a qualified Speech & Language Therapist who has dedicated her career to working with children & supporting families in the community. She believes passionately in a naturalistic, fun approach to maximize the child's potential through child-centred play with family participation. Julie has had a career break & is in the process of returning to Speech & Language therapy practice. She is delighted to be joining the innovative Pictologue team & being involved in the local community.
Toy Library Assistant, Speech and Language Therapy Advisor
Frances is a retired speech and language therapist with many years’ experience in helping children to develop their verbal and non-verbal language and communication. Frances supports Pictologue as a volunteer at Twickenham Toy Library and advises on toys, games and books to enhance children's communication and interaction through play.
Jyothish Nair is an Experience Designer focusing on digital, physical products and brand experiences in London. He is the founder & Creative Director of Paper Inu Design in London. Jyo brings wealth of experiences ranging from traditional brand identity, packaging, web, mobile, physical products and spatial design, spanning 15 years in design with several global awards like – Cannes Gold, D&AD, Red Dot. His works have been featured in Wired, Fast.co and Gizmodo. He loves drawing the Bible, cooking, and writing during his spare time. He is in the process of co-writing a book on 'Design across from east to west'.
Vishan de Mel
Head of Finance & Development