Star Wards is a project of the social justice charity Bright. Star Wards provides practical ideas and inspiring examples from and for mental health ward staff. About 650 wards are members and enjoying introducing small changes which make a massive difference to patients. Star Wards was set up by Bright’s founder, Marion Janner, following her experience as a detained patient. Marion is a devotee of inpatient care and the staff who frankly heroically provide it, and is deeply appreciative of the staff who care for her when she’s in St Ann’s, Tottenham. Read the full back story



“Marion Janner knows the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. After being sectioned eight years ago with borderline personality disorder, Janner spent her time on a mental health ward creating a list of 65 things that would have made her life there happier. This list of practical low-cost changes evolved into the charity Star Wards and is now being implemented in 80% of the country’s mental health wards – from cookery to laughter therapy and of course pets – least of all the Star Wards mascot, Buddy.”

~ The Guardian 



From left to right: Geoff, Buddy, Marion and NIc

From left to right: Geoff, Buddy, Marion and Nic





Geoff Brennan - Executive Director
Geoff Brennan has worked in, on and around mental health wards for over thirty years (is it really that long!) In that time he has been in just about every position a clinical nurse can have – health care assistant, staff, practice development lead, consultant. In that time he has also had a Star Wards development path- fan, cheerleader, advocate, trustee and now CEO.  He even gets to hold Buddy now when Marion is presenting.

So he’s done lots of stuff along the way (carers groups, benchmarks, projects,  research, writing reports, doing inspections, chairing acute care forums – you get the picture).  Just before coming to join the Star Wards team Geoff was part of the Safewards Team with Prof Len Bowers in the Institute of Psychiatry which was also about making wards better places for all.

Geoff is has another job with an organisation called Verita, is Northern Irish, has an unrequited love for his cat  Millie and is a total nut about the cartoon Danger Mouse.


Nic Higham - Inpatient Care Project Manager
Nic Higham has worked in mental health wards for just over 10 years, both as a Healthcare Support Worker and Therapeutic Liaison Worker, a role he pioneered (as a result of getting his hands on ‘Star Wards – the sequel’ and feeling hugely inspired) to offer more meaningful and therapeutic activity to inpatients. Nic has also worked as part of Quality and Improvement and Learning and Development teams within his local NHS Trust, co-facilitated therapy groups, and is a Recovery College tutor. Although he continues to work clinically in the form of regular bank shifts, most of his working life is dedicated to Star Wards where he is Inpatient Care Project Manager. As well as developing Star Wards resources, Nic happily designs and looks after all the websites. In his spare time he makes noisy techno beats in his little home studio.


Marion Janner OBE – Founder

Marion’s main background is developing and managing services for people with learning disabilities and also has some form as a failed chocolate entrepreneur. Following her experience as a detained inpatient, she set up Star Wards which helps mental health wards introduce mainly small, low-cost changes which have a huge impact on patients’ and staff experiences. Marion has recently been named as the recipient of the 2015 JPMHN Lifetime Achievement Award for “outstanding contribution to the development of psychiatric and mental health nursing”. She’s the proud mother of Buddy, a 12 year old Tibetan Terrier who, whose hairy little face graces many a mental health ward noticeboard.


Buddy Janner
Advisor on 4 legged issues, food, sniffing and taking it easy.


Nina Martynchyk - Associate Service User Consultant
ninatestNina is passionate about spreading awareness of mental health and the foster care system. She is now in recovery from anxiety and depression and has recovered from her eating disorder. Nina has recently begun doing some work on our latest resource for CAMHS wards, www.camheleon.org.




Rod Bowles

Joy Bray

Ian Hulatt – chair

Kathryn Hill

Jonathan Jenkins

Sue Stocks

Chantal Mendes

Alan Rosenbach



We are very very fortunate to have had generous, flexible and encouraging funders, which are mostly charitable foundations. We seriously love them.





A huge thank you to our amazing funders past and present:

alan lane




Javon Charitable Trust






Big thanks also to New Philanthropy Capital for managing another grant from a family foundation