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Meet our Board of Trustees

Jan Wilson (Chair)

"After leaving university I joined the County Clerk and Chief Executive's Dept at Staffs CC  before changing direction for the teaching profession. On retirement a chance meeting between my husband and the Chief Officer of Chase CVS led to me being 'volunteered' as a Trustee, representative on Scio, TLI Champion, TLI Steering Group, Support Staffordshire Development Group and finally the Support Staffordshire Board.  Throughout my  working life I have developed  research skills, administrative good practice and the ability to prioritise, whilst dealing with truculent teenagers certainly honed skills of conflict resolution!

Working with young people also raised awareness of the social, economic, health and aspirational issues which affect  families and communities, bringing me into contact with numerous agencies and charities trying to address these problems. I was particularly interested in the support available for child carers who sacrifice their childhood and often their education and future for the sake of their parents.

For me being a part of Support Staffordshire means being able to support these front line organisations in their work of facilitating better community engagement, access to services, health and well being and economic prosperity. What could be more challenging or rewarding than that?"

John Downie (Treasurer)

John Downie Trustee of Support Staffordshire"I have recently retired after ten years as an Executive Director of Community Regeneration Partnership, a housing and regeneration consultancy. Prior to my work in the private sector I spent thirty five successful years in local government. In that time I was responsible for the management and delivery of many innovative urban regeneration programmes. Working “with” and “for” Communities and the voluntary sector has been central to my work in both the public and private sector. I have led and delivered significant urban regeneration projects in the most challenging environments, I have a track record of delivering complex housing and regeneration solutions in partnership with communities in crisis.

I have presented papers on private sector housing renewal and urban regeneration to international conferences in Chile, Finland, France and South Korea.

I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Officers and an honorary lecturer to the Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management at the University of Birmingham, lecturing to students on a MSc programme on housing and regeneration law and practice.

I have served as a non executive board member for two Housing Associations, chairing both boards.

I firmly believe in the value of empowering individuals and communities to achieve the most appropriate solution to their circumstances to enable them to be the best they can be."

 

Simmy Akhtar

I had the pleasure of working with Support Staffordshire in my previous role of Chief Officer at Healthwatch Staffordshire.  It was clear to me that the team and organisation are dedicated to supporting the provision of high-quality services in the area together with ensuring that all residents and charitable organisations have a voice in the local health and social care system. 

My early career was in the private legal sector where I practiced as a Solicitor for several years before I made the transition to the charitable sector to follow my passion of supporting all regardless of background and circumstances to have a voice.  I have also sat on the Board and Finance committee of the Patients Association.  Currently, I am Chief Executive Officer at Air Ambulances UK, where we champion, support, and represent the lifesaving work of air ambulance charities across the UK.

I am delighted to join the Board of Support Staffordshire and to have the opportunity to use my experience, skills, and knowledge to support the wonderful work that happens right here!

 

Rowan Crozier

Rowan Crozier Trustee of Support Staffordshire"On graduating from Loughborough University in Mechanical Engineering I have spent over twenty years in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, most recently as the Chief Executive of Brandauer, one the largest precision stamping and toolmaking subcontractors in the UK, where I have had the opportunity to work with my team to deliver positive cultural change, increase revenues and deliver improvements in internal efficiencies to secure the companies long term future.

In addition, I voluntarily chair a manufacturing business network call MAN Group which exists to collaboratively share best-practice, revenue opportunities and marketing and communication overheads to drive the growth of UK manufacturing in the Midlands region.

My commitment to CSR has introduced me to the 3rd sector in terms of fund raising through challenges and special events and more recently discover the vital role volunteers play in everyday society. This coupled with a family passion for volunteering has inspired me to proactively seek a volunteering role where I might be able to do my bit and add some value.

Support Staffordshire is the 3rd sectors best kept secret, an organisation that exists to guide, steer, advise and support the county’s charitable organisations……you might say a charity that helps many 100s of charities! What a fantastic story to tell. I hope, by applying some of my more transferrable skills, I can help to spread the word on the organisation and its offerings to the benefit of Support Staffordshire, its members, volunteers and staff."

 

Elaine Day 

"I was a Staff Governor (representing Volunteers) at Queen’s Hospital Burton (BHFT) for 6 years prior to the merger with Royal Derby forming the University Hospital of Derby and Burton NHS FT (UHDB). I served my many executive committees during my period of Governor Office: People and Development, Quality, Equality and Diversity, Safeguarding, Women’s and Children’s Medicine as well as various Cancer Charities, Strategy Development and Clinical Audit. I left the role in August 2020, after a further 2 years’ service, to gain experience in another direction.

I volunteered substantially at the Trust, pre- and post-merger, for 11 years and gained enormous insight and knowledge of the role, remaining passionate, focussed, positive and determined throughout. 

The Merger work was detailed and lengthy, but I undertook it with diligence and passion. I am aware of where the NHS began, how it works locally and nationally and how, as a wider community, we must aspire to serve the local population somewhat differently throughout the 21st century. The impact of the NHS on all we do in communities can never be underestimated but we need to continually develop a more shared role across all aspects of society to sustain a partnership that is both real and sustainable.

The journey to merger at the Trust was challenging; each Governor wanted the best for patients, staff and the wider community. Much reflection and resolve went into the decision and once made, that decision required full commitment from each member of the Council of Governors, and the Communities they serve, to see the aspirations delivered. The learning I experienced at that time has enhanced my skill set exponentially and I am grateful for that.

Prior to volunteering, my 30-year career in Education, ultimately as a Headteacher of an aged 3-11 Foundation Primary School, enables me to bring a substantial skill set to the table. I communicate, read and understand vast quantities both informational and data led. I work with dedication and passion. I understand all aspects of confidentiality; a blue-sky thinker but also a collaborative worker. I know about the commitment necessary in time and energy and appreciate the need to use strategic thinking alongside a myriad of leadership skills to achieve agreed objectives and successful outcomes. 

I am passionate about both the NHS and the wider interactions of people and groups in my local community and would find it an honour to continue to serve in any capacity that meets these personal goals. In Support Staffordshire I see an avenue to do just that; it will be both an honour and a continued road to lifelong learning which I endorse fully!"

 

Jon Everett 

Jon Everett Photo"A relative newcomer to the Third Sector, I served the first 18 years of my career in the military, mostly in commando and intelligence roles. After leaving in 2005, I worked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the EU/ASEAN Mission in Indonesia following the South-East Asian tsunami, before taking up a consultancy appointment in the United Arab Emirates. Since then, I have been fortunate to have led a Middle East consulting company, served as Managing Director for UK manufacturing companies Ultra Electronics PMES in Rugeley and the Barden Corporation in Plymouth, and held the position of President Industrial UK & Ireland for Schaeffler GmbH. 

I transitioned into the charitable sector when the pandemic hit, serving with RE:ACT Disaster Response and the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership, coordinating stakeholder engagement across the Midlands in particular and England in general. It was during this time that I became aware of the valuable work of Support Staffordshire. In my current role I serve as the Director of Business Development and External Affairs for the UK Community Foundations, but continue to serve as a volunteer for RE:ACT and I’m also a mentor for SSAFA. 

I was delighted to be asked to join the Board of Support Staffordshire and the opportunity to give back to the County that has become my home. I am hoping that my diverse experience in both the private and public sectors can help benefit the Board and contribute to the continued success of Support Staffordshire."

 

Ian North 

Ian NorthIan has extensive knowledge and experience of the private, voluntary and statutory sectors and has been the CEO of East Staffordshire Family Support Service  – Harvey Girls – Dads4Dads for the last 12 years.

With a wide range of experience of strategic, operation and financial management and a clear understanding of housing and public policy issues, Ian is action and results orientated and demonstrates an ability to develop relationships, networks and systems to achieve change. He is passionate about making a difference to the lives of individuals, families and communities.

Ian also sits on the Board of a number of smaller charities and believes good governance should be at the heart of every well-run charity. He has held the Chair position at the following organsations:

West London YMCA , Homes for Northumberland; Three Valleys Housing in Derbyshire, and Trent and Dove Housing, based in Burton.

Ian was elected to the National Council of YMCAs’ Board of Trustees in 2016 - 2019 and in 2009 was Awarded the Housing Heroes Inspirational Board Member of the Year.

 

Martin Peake 

Martin Peake Photo"I have worked in the Third Sector within Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire for over 20 years. First with a home improvement agency, and more lately as the business development manager for fuel poverty charity Beat the Cold. I have witnessed first hand the changing challenges of the VCSE sector over the years, but most importantly the crucial work that it does to support those in the greatest need in society.  I am passionate about that work continuing, and being as good as it possibly can be.

My work has allowed me to foster relationships between housing, health, private sector, and social care, and between local authorities and the NHS. I have always strived to bring down silo working, to improve the service that is offered to those that need help, whatever that may be.

I have lived in Staffordshire all of my life, and attended Staffordshire University to study Law as an undergraduate, and business as a post graduate. I hope to put these skills to good use in supporting the board.

I believe that Support Staffordshire has a key role in shaping the future for the entire VCSE sector, and in helping it to thrive in challenging times."

 

Sanjida Rahim 

Sanjida RahimI arrived to this country from a remote village in Pakistan at the age of 20 with a suitcase full of books instead of pretty clothes and shoes!

Coming from a teaching family background, teaching was my dream job. My very first contact with the local college as the first Pakistani female migrant to approach the college was disappointing in that without any initial assessment, they told me that there was no course for me in the college because of me not being able to speak English.  Even though English was my favourite subject and I always scored highest mark in English.

I was very fortunate to come across a lady called Jill Evans, who dedicated her life to helping migrants in Burton-upon-Trent.  Jill helped me to start my own Interpreting and Translation Agency, working with Staffordshire and Derbyshire, police, education and social services. At the same time, I started a Youth and Community Project for Asian Women and I studied. I also raised four children at the same time, with the support of my extended family.

In 1989, we started the first ever Urdu project from home with seven students who were the children of family friends.  This expanded to the whole of Burton and Stoke on Trent; Community Languages being taught on the weekend in local community centres.  This gave young people a sense of being valued and pride in themselves. We pushed for Urdu to be taught in Staffordshire Secondary Schools with a high percentage of Pakistani pupils/students, along with other modern languages such as French, German and Spanish; and I thus became the first female teacher in Staffordshire to teach Urdu in schools.

Two months later, I became the first migrant female to become a member of the board of the East Staffordshire Racial Equality Council.

After graduating as a RE teacher, I still felt something missing and the penny dropped when I came across a doctor who asked me to teach him IELTS which is an English qualification for international professionals to get on a university course in this country or to work here.  I continued to do this online for many years until I went abroad.

I continued to learn, completing a Master’s in Education and Applied Linguistics and went on to teach English and lead departments in FE Colleges and Universities here in the UK and abroad.

For the past 4 years, I have been working and travelling in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and UAE. When I arrived back home, Covid hit and life has changed dramatically on the whole planet.  People had to do what I had been doing (working remotely) for a very long time.

One of my aims in life is to fight for the powerless and helpless people and second is to help them to acquire literacy, which is the most valuable currency of the knowledge economy. I am thankful to Support Staffordshire to give me this opportunity to work with them on the causes close to my heart.

 

Christine Thomas

Christine Thomas Trustee of Support Staffordshire"I found Support Staffordshire through a mentoring client who is a member.  My experience in large corporate business and then running my own business  enabled me to help other small businesses through offering my skills and experiences as a Business Mentor.

Through mentoring my clients included some small local charities; I never cease to be amazed at the energy and enthusiasm shown by volunteers so when I was approached by Support Staffordshire it “fitted” with my corporate social responsibility.

I am currently a Board member for Chase Chamber of Commerce and a Trustee of an Academies Trust. My interest in communities grows daily as we see the changing landscape develop and the need to recognise the important work local people do.

I believe I can bring business experience and knowledge both to the board and our actions on behalf of our members. My specialist skills are HR and Employment Law, and Developing leaders."