Co-founder/Director and Business Manager
I began my working career as a Bank Clerk, working for the Westminster Bank (now NatWest), before progressing into financial and cost accounting and office management.
The adoption of our two mixed-race/dual heritage children in the eighties saw me making a complete career change. I moved from financial roles within industry working with numbers and accounts to becoming a counsellor and project worker/manager within the voluntary sector, working hands on with children, young people and vulnerable adults.
As a response to the challenges of becoming a multi cultural family through trans-racial adoption, I was jointly responsible for setting up and running the Jigsaw group. This was a mutual support group for families with trans-racially adopted children in Leicestershire.
In addition to regular meetings and outings with our children, we also held a series of workshops and ‘away days’ throughout the eighties and early nineties. These provided opportunities, for parents and children to share experiences and support one another. We shared and celebrated our different cultural backgrounds. Our children learned how to be proud of themselves and their different heritage. They developed coping strategies to enable them to deal positively with negative experiences.
The main focus of the group was to give our children the opportunity of meeting and making friends with other children and young people in similar circumstances to themselves. This in turn helped to raise their confidence and self-esteem, at a time when many of them were facing racism and discrimination within their schools and local communities.
During the past 30 years I have been employed in a variety of different roles, both voluntary and paid, mainly within the Voluntary and Community Sector including:
- Play group leader and under 5’s trainer for the Pre-School Playgroup association.
- Setting up and running a pilot project to support women experiencing Domestic Violence.
- Counsellor and Befriending scheme organiser for a mental health charity.
- Over 9 years experience as Manager of a Local Mind Association Charity, where I was very actively involved in developing a range of groups and services to support people with mental health problems.
- Setting up and running a Children’s’ Play Project to support young and vulnerable mothers to engage and play with their children.
I am currently working at LAMP, a specialist mental health advocacy service, based in Leicester as Executive Assistant. I work alongside Denise, the Executive Director, for 3 days a week. My role at LAMP includes managing a number of special projects and also supporting Denise and the Board of Trustees at a strategic level.
I have many years experience as a Trustee of a number of local charities, taking on roles as Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary. My current role is as treasurer to Network for Change, a well-respected local housing and support social enterprise for people experiencing mental health problems.
Both my children were diagnosed with dyslexia, Kate at 17 years and Philip at 12 years of age. This has brought many additional challenges, but has also given me personal experience and insight into the difficulties and lack of support available. Too many children, young people and adults face discrimination on a day-to-day basis and struggle to reach their full potential. I also have 15 years as Vice Chair of Governors of an inner city secondary school, where I had the opportunity to monitor and understand the specific difficulties and failings of mainstream education to provide appropriate support for so many of our most vulnerable children.
This is why I am so excited about my involvement with Iliffe Arts Ltd and the specialist tailored support it provides for children, young people and vulnerable adults. Together with other like-minded people and gifted teachers and practitioners, we have the potential to make a real difference. Our aim is to plug some of the gaps that so many children and young people with additional needs, both educationally and emotionally are falling through.