Chairperson and Board

 

Sarah Hill – Chairperson

Sarah has been involved with Brighter Futures for nearly 20 years and seen the many changes and extraordinary developments. She is very proud to be part of it.

Sarah is a social worker by background and for a long time was Assistant Director for Adult Services with Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Since then, Sarah has spent several years as a lecturer at Staffordshire University and a couple of years as a Local Councillor for Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Now Sarah is retired, it gives her more time to give to Brighter Futures. Sarah is Chair of the Board of Management and is The Chair of VOICES.

Sarah admires enormously the work that each and every one at Brighter Futures does – the commitment, the passion and the ‘going the extra mile’. Sarah is proud to be able to tell other people about what Brighter Futures does and her involvement with the organisation.

 

Suzanne Carr – Vice Chair

Suzanne brings significant experience, in executive and non-executive roles, of leading charitable businesses, through strategy development, identifying opportunities for and developing commercial services, stakeholder management and partnership building, service development and delivery and supporting and improving charity governance. 

Executive expertise is achieved through CEO roles in health and social care and regeneration charity businesses.  Through various operational and business development roles at local regional and national levels. Suzanne has gained experience in change management, political influencing and the challenges and delights of working to change places and change lives for the better with some of the most challenged communities in the UK. 

A life-long interest in environmental matters and a personal belief in the positive impact of the natural environment on health and economic wellbeing leads her to support the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust where she currently holds the Vice Chair role and is a Director and Chair of the charity’s social enterprise trading board. 

 

Steve Rowley – Board Member

Steve originally joined the Board as Hon Treasurer in 2013 and Chairs the Audit & Risk Committee. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).  

Most of his professional life has been spent in North Staffordshire and the North West. His last substantive post was as Assistant Director of Adult Social Services in Wirral, where he played a significant role in ‘turning around’ a failing department. 

Most recently he was employed by NHS England and Staffordshire Police in interim strategic financial positions. In 2017 he moved to Malawi undertaking voluntary work as Country Director for Krizevac UK. Since his return to the UK in 2019, Steve has re-joined the Board and Chairs the Audit and Risk Committee.  

Steve’s professional background in finance and working mainly in care and health settings brings a synergy to the part he plays as a Board Member for Brighter Futures. 

 

Helen Rowley – Board Member

Helen joined the Board in 2016. She has a professional background in social work and has managed children’s social care services at a senior level, including seven years with Stoke on Trent City Council as Assistant Director, Children and Families.  

Helen has also managed housing services and led the Large-Scale Voluntary Transfer of Macclesfield Borough Council’s housing stock in 2006. She retired in 2009 but has continued to be fully involved in several voluntary and community roles. 

In the past, Helen Chaired the Fostering Panel for Wirral Borough Council and was the Chair of Governors for Star Academy and Chairs. 

In September 2017 Helen moved to Malawi to undertake a two-year voluntary assignment with the charity, Krizevac.org, where she was the Director of Policy and Strategy. Since her return to the UK she has re-joined the Board and is an active and supportive member. 

Helen is very proud to be a Board Member for Brighter Futures having been an admirer of the work of the organisation for many years.

Olwen Hamer – Board Member

Olwen has worked for 20 years developing services and policy for the public sector throughout the UK. This has included working for the trade union UNISON for 5 years. 

She is an Editor for the international journal of Critical Social Policy, an Associate of the Institute of Local Government Studies and a City Councillor. 
Olwen spent some time homeless as a young adult before receiving support from a refuge in Edinburgh. 

 

Fern Basnett – Board Member

Fern has an academic background in Psychology (specialising in health psychology), and she has worked in the health and social care sector for over 30 years.

Fern has worked for a range of agencies in different roles, which has included as a social worker having direct involvement with people who have accessed support from Brighter Futures.

Fern has worked at both a managerial and development level undertaking needs assessment, service evaluations, developing resources at a strategic level and representing the local authority in a multi-disciplinary context, particularly in relation to substance misuse and mental health services.

Fern currently works part time at Staffordshire University, as a senior academic in the social work department. She has an academic background in Psychology (specialising in health psychology), and she has worked in the health and social care sector for over 30 years.

Fern has worked for a range of agencies in different roles, which has included as a social worker having direct involvement with people who have accessed support from Brighter Futures.

Fern currently works part time at Staffordshire University, as a senior academic in the social work department.

 

Andrew Bell – Board Member

Andrew joined the Board in 2018. Andrew brings to the Board a background of Health and Safety. His work career started with the Fire Service and then moved on to work in consultancies and Local Authority’s in Occupational and more specifically Asbestos Management. 

Andrew last year retired from his position managing asbestos in Staffordshire County Council’s buildings. As part of this role in the Risk Management Section within Property Services, he was routinely involved in building and refurbishment project works.

He has a good knowledge of Health and Safety, undertaking numerous Health and Safety Courses over the years and has sat on Health and Safety Committees within the County Council (as a Union representative).  

Andrew has a degree in Environmental Studies and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Auditing and has some experience in Auditing external organisations in compliance specifically with Asbestos Regulations. He believes that education, training and development is essential for any organisation to be effective.  

 

Pam Carter – Board Member

Pam left school at 16 and has a varied career, mainly within the public sector and worked as a Planning Officer (Social Inclusion), a Project Leader at a Health Resource Centre and a Senior Evaluation Officer for three local Sure Start programmes.  Former Trustee experience includes being a board member of Home Start Newcastle Borough.

Currently, Pam volunteers as an initial adviser for Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent Citizens Advice. 

Following research funded by ESRC on Children’s Centres and welfare reform, Pam was awarded her PhD in public policy and management from Keele University in 2009.

Pam’s work at Keele included facilitating and researching patient and public involvement before moving to the Department of Health Sciences at Leicester University where she continues to hold a position as an Honorary Research Fellow. Her research interests are in ethics, governance and the field of citizen, patient and public involvement. Many of her publications can be found online.

 

CEO and Directors

 

Helena Evans – CEO

Helena’s most recent role is working for the specialist care and support company (Individual Support) at Places for People Housing Group as a Regional Operations Manager.

She has been responsible for the strategic leadership, operational and performance management (support, care and housing management) for a range of care and support services across the North West and South West.    
Helena has led a large multifunctional dispersed team covering a range of diverse services from floating support services, homeless hostel accommodation, extra care/sheltered housing services, supported housing (homeless families, teenage parents, young persons’ services), an accredited Foyer (providing housing, training and employment opportunities) and older persons care provision.  
During her time with Places for People, Helena has pioneered new approaches to service provision, including introducing a psychologically based approach used to achieve positive outcomes for customers in the homelessness and mental health sectors.   
Helena has also chaired the National Housing Federation’s North West Regional Older Persons Housing and Support Forum and has chaired two working groups for Lancashire County Council contributing to the development of their peer review and customer engagement strategies and programmes.  
Helena’s previous job roles and experience in the care, support and supported housing sectors over the past 22 years have spanned across the voluntary, public and private sectors.  
She has worked for the mental health charities; Mind and Rethink (formerly NSF); regional and national housing associations and a local authority. She started out in her career as a support worker in community mental health services.   
Helena is a Corporate Member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and Associate Member of the Chartered Management Institute. In her spare time, Helena has a keen interest in music and is completing a music production diploma. 

 

Paul Cooper – Director of Finance and Business Support

Paul is a Chartered Management Accountant and has worked in the retail, transport, education and housing sectors over his 27-year career.

Having specialised in the housing sector for the past 13 years, Paul has worked for Housing Associations such as Your Housing Group, the Regena Group and the Prima Group.

During this time, Paul has been heavily involved in raising additional / restructuring existing finance and negotiating VAT Partial Exemption schemes with HMRC. 

In his spare time, Paul enjoys cycling and playing guitar. He is also the Standard Bearer and Committee member for his local Royal British legion branch. Paul is also treasurer for his local cricket team and the village carnival. 

 

Andy Meakin – Director of VOICES

Andy Meakin is the Director of the VOICES project which is one of twelve projects made possible by the National Lottery Community Fund in England.   

He has twenty years’ post graduate experience of working with adult services in the contexts of employment, education, training, housing and homelessness.  

Andy spent ten years in Local Government working as a commissioner in housing and social care managing contracts delivering care and support to more than 20,000 people spending more than £70m per year. 

He has led numerous successful redesign and recommissioning exercises that delivered savings and service improvements.   

Andy has written articles and blogs for trade media and was a co-author of an award-winning academic article following participation in an action research project. He also holds a BA honours degree in Politics and Environmental Management as well as an MBA. Both are from Keele University. 

Andy spends his spare time with family. His hobbies include reading and motorcycling.