Phil was born a farmer’s son in the Cambridgeshire Fens in 1957. The youngest son, he was born with cerebral palsy and was under the medical care of Great Ormond Street until he was 16. Phil’s parents were fantastic and pushed for him to have the best possible treatment and opportunities, at a time when this was extremely challenging.
To go into mainstream school was a no-go at that time so from the age of 6 he went to a specialised boarding school and from there he went onto further education where he fully admits he enjoyed himself more than his teachers might have liked.
In 1976 Phil went to live in Papworth at a sheltered workshop. He lived and worked in the same building and although he doesn’t miss those days, he does feel that it gave everyone a purpose to get up each day.
He married Trish in 1984 and together they offered regular fostering and respite care for youngsters with various disabilities for many years. One, Ashley who had Down’s syndrome, they looked after nearly every weekend from when he was a child until he was an adult living on his own. They still keep in touch now.
In 2005 Phil became a trustee for Speaking Up after hearing a presentation about our work at Papworth Trust, where he was a trustee user representative.
Over the years he has seen the organisation go from strength to strength, enjoy huge success and, under his management as a Co-Chair, from 2008 to 2010, go through a merger and name change to form VoiceAbility.
Phil’s special interest area is of user involvement and he is keen for VoiceAbility to do more of this over the next few years. He enjoys being a trustee but would love to be a co-chair again as he feels it would be a huge achievement both personally and for VoiceAbility as a user-led organisation
Kate joined the social enterprise Blue Sky as Managing Director in April 2015. Blue Sky only recruits ex-offenders and places them into commercial contracts and has one of the highest scores recorded by the Ministry of Justice Data Lab for reducing re-offending.
Kate worked at the social enterprise support organisation CAN from 2005 to 2014 as Deputy Chief Executive, where she also launched and established CAN Invest, CAN’s social investment arm, managing and raising funds for social enterprises and helping them measure their social impact.
Before CAN, Kate was an Executive Director of The Big Life Group in Manchester, where she was also Editor of The Big Issue in the North magazine for many years. Earlier in her career Kate was a journalist with the media corporations Trinity Mirror Plc and Thomson Reuters.
Kate has been a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) since 2008. She is a member of the Advisory Council of Big Society Capital, the wholesale social investment bank; and of the Investment Committee for Big Issue Invest.
Kate joined VoiceAbility after meeting the organisation in a previous life (managing a venture philanthropy fund that supported VA to merge). She was struck by the mission and Jonathan’s drive to grow impact through M&A activity – in what can be a complex environment to support people.
Kate brings insight into social investment, outcomes, strategy and commercial thinking to contribute to growing the social impact of the organisation.
Having spent almost 35 years in banking, Cliff was made redundant around 5 years ago so decided to change direction. During his time at work he had been a local councillor, school governor, parent representative and European staff representative, all of which, along with his banking and finance experience has enabled him to adapt to different organisational environments.
His first role was as Non Executive Director, for Essex Cares Ltd, the adult social care provider for Essex County Council, serving on the Audit and remuneration committees. After 3 years he left Essex for Cambridgeshire and the opportunity to serve as Treasurer for VoiceAbility arose. Since then, he has joined bpha, (a Bedfordshire Housing Association) as an Independent Member of their Finance and Treasury Committee.
Cliff is also active in his local church, being responsible for their Social Media output and running a Marriage Enhancement Course. He is passionate about everyone's right to representation and his skills fit well with the VoiceAbility team.
Meredith began as a Trainee legal executive in London firm of solicitors and progressed over time to a Fleet Street publishing firm, as an advertising production manager. As his sight continued its inexorable decline he changed direction and became a part time admin assistant at a local NACRO office. He then did some short-term volunteering with RNIB, followed by admin and then policy roles there. Later, he became the Advocacy Coordinator at Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea.
Meredith joined the Department of Health in 1997. There he led on several policies, taking some of them through the Parliamentary process:
- Tackling prescription fraud;
- The national tobacco education campaign;
- The Reform of the NHS and Social Care complaints procedure;
- Joining up mental health and criminal justice services;
- Management of the NHS staff survey;
- Promoting staff engagement in the NHS;
- As Director of Policy, leading a programme of patient empowerment policies.
He left the Department in 2011 and now deliver counselling, coaching, mentoring and hypnotherapy. His qualifications include diplomas in Business Studies, Management Studies and Clinical Hypnotherapy as well as a BSc (Hons) in Psychology.
Meredith has been a trustee for nearly three years. His primary interests in the organisation are service quality and staff welfare.
Sue is currently a 2016 Clore Social Fellow, spending the year on a leadership development programme aimed at people involved in social change. She is also vice chair of the Care and Support Alliance.
Until January 2016 Sue was Head of Public Policy at Sense, a role she held for 13 years. In this role she was involved in influencing the Mental Capacity Act and chaired the Care and Support Alliance Bill Group which worked to influence the Care Act.
Before Sense Sue worked for five years at Mind as Parliamentary Officer and then Campaigns Manager. Before that Sue worked for the London Cycling Campaign in a role which included support to the Disabled Cyclists Group.
Her passion is for creating change and for enabling people to speak out for themselves about the change they wish to see. At both Mind and Sense she has been instrumental in supporting people to develop skills in campaigning and to have opportunities to raise their issues directly with those making decisions that will affect their lives.
Jonathan Lepper is a senior adviser, working on policy, economic, and corporate issues in the Treasury. He is currently head of long term thinking on European Union reform having previously led the defined benefit side of the recent pension’s consultation. Before that he devised the “Help-to-Work” scheme to tackle long term unemployment. Earlier in his career he was an economic adviser to the House of Commons Treasury Committee and separately campaign director at the then leading disability third sector organisation, RADAR, where he refocused the organisation’s campaign strategy, managed the events team and co-ordinated lobbying on disability discrimination.”