Our trustees oversee the running of the organisation at a strategic level. They are experts in various fields and many have lived experience of disability.
Peter runs the management board that is responsible for the overall direction of VoiceAbility. Peter has served on boards of various charities in the past, including Housing 21, WPF Therapy and CIBC Children’s Foundation. He has a wealth of financial and governance experience. He has a particular interest in working with people to raise their voices after fighting alongside his son, who has a disability, for the right to complete his degree education. He is unpaid.
Sue’s background is in policy influencing. She is currently CEO of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, and Chair of VoiceAbility’s Safeguarding Governance Committee.
Sue was also vice chair of the Care and Support Alliance. 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. Until January 2016 she was Head of Public Policy and a member of the Safeguarding Board at Sense, a role she held for 13 years. Before Sense Sue worked for five years at Mind as Parliamentary Officer and then Campaigns Manager.
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.
“When I joined the Board, I had worked with VoiceAbility on influencing the Care Act, so I knew their work and felt I shared their values. I have learned a lot in the time I have been on the Board. I think the new strategy is an exciting opportunity and I’m looking forward to seeing how this can strengthen our ability to support people’s voices.”
Alistair has a keen interest in workplace neurodiversity and extensive experience in digital transformation, business development and delivering major change programmes. He is a founding director of MyBrain International, a company dedicated to furthering the understanding of the way in which a person’s physical brain influences their everyday lives, incorporating research into subjects including autism, mental illness and dyslexia.
He also co-founded Extensor, one of the UK’s leading companies in the design and delivery of behavioural skills programmes in areas such as leadership, change and team performance. Previously Alistair has held directorial roles at companies including Unisys and Scottish Provident, and he is currently a councillor for Weston Parish Council.
“During my 30+ years in business, I have felt that organisations tend to underestimate the value of diversity and instead seek to ‘pigeon-hole’ and categorise people. Yet everyone is unique, meaning that there is no such thing as ‘normal’. My work with Extensor and MyBrain reflects my commitment to VoiceAbility’s values of empowerment and collaborative work: promoting the concept of individuality for the betterment of organisations.”
Viral is a finance professional with over ten years’ experience in asset management and investment banking. Currently he is a Vice President at Credit Suisse Asset Management and brings to VoiceAbility extensive finance experience along with excellent commercial and strategic skills.
“I’m determined to help improve VoiceAbility’s competitive position and secure its sustainability as a market leader. I am passionate about empowering disadvantaged people and empowerment to me is a multi-stage process that transcends from providing awareness and support to enlisting participation and contribution, from both recipients and society - to bring about a self-sustaining change.”
Journalism graduate Matt joined us in 2011, as a Peer Champion for Total Voice Lincolnshire, collaborating with others to help get their voices heard. Having undertaken a HNC/D Business Study course he became more closely involved in marketing for the organisation, as well as coordinating fundraising events and producing annual reports. He is the creator and manager of one of the biggest carer recruitment Facebook groups in the UK: Carers Wanted UK.
Matt has first-hand experience of physical disability, and competes in powerchair football. As well as bringing to the Board a wealth of experience in non-instructed advocacy, fundraising and marketing, he brings invaluable lived experience of the opportunities available to people with disabilities who wish to take more control of their own lives.
“I have always been interested in business, so learning how a national organisation is run and to actively participate is amazing. My main reason for wanting to become Trustee of VoiceAbility was because I used to work in the VoiceAbility Lincoln service ten years ago, and I’m very aware of many people who would benefit from having their voices heard - I thought helping from the top would be the best way to do that.”
Gavin has a background in commercial leadership and sales, and his lived experience of supporting family members who have special needs and autism inspired him to join VoiceAbility as one of our newest trustees. Gavin is an adviser for Ambitious about Autism, and has been a committee member for a special needs youth group. His leadership experience spans a range of disciplines including partnerships, recruitment, marketing and operations.
“I am looking forward to supporting the Board to help those who struggle to have a voice. I’m excited to be able to bring both personal and business experience in this area which will help the charity grow. I have worked in a range of businesses; from start-ups, to scale-up, charities, FTSE 50 companies, and most recently I have set up my own business, the core focus of which is commercial growth for organisations. I am most looking forward to learning about VoiceAbility’s expansion plans for our services, and I’m particularly interested in looking at the most resourceful ways to increase the reach of the organisation.”
Previously a trustee user representative at Papworth Trust, Phil has brought invaluable experience in user involvement to the Board. Over the years he has seen the organisation go from strength to strength. He originally joined Speaking Up, and, under his management as a Co-Chair of the Board from 2008 to 2010, saw Speaking Up go through a merger with Advocacy Partners to form VoiceAbility.
Phil was born in the Cambridgeshire Fens in 1957, and was under the care of Great Ormond Street for his cerebral palsy until he was 16. Phil’s parents pushed for him to have the best possible treatment and opportunities at a time when this was extremely challenging. He married Trish in 1984, and together they offered regular fostering and respite care for disabled children for many years. They looked after Ashley, who has Down’s syndrome, until he was old enough to live on his own. They still keep in touch now.
Phil continues to take a special interest in empowering the people we support via user involvement; and is keen for VoiceAbility to continue developing in this area.
“I am VoiceAbility’s longest-serving Trustee, with over 15 years’ service. Over the years I have seen the organisation go from strength to strength. I became a Trustee to share my experience as a person with a disability and as a service user. My particular focus is on service user involvement, making sure that the needs and voices of the people we are here to support are central to our service design and delivery, and that we are a truly user-led organisation.”
Louisa is a national senior programme manager for NHS England, currently working on the Learning Disability Mortality Review programme. She works with a wide range of people and organisations to address the premature mortality of people with a learning disability, and the health inequalities people face.
She has also worked for Mencap, initially developing local and regional advocacy services before supporting the strategic and operational delivery of services for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) as well as engaging with groups deemed to be “hard to reach”, including those from Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
Louisa strongly believes in a collaborative approach which involves the people we support in shaping our organisation and what we do: employing people with learning disabilities and working alongside families and circles of support to uphold the rights of people whose views are not being heard.
“I started my career setting up local advocacy services for people with a learning disability. I work for NHS England now in a strategy role and I wanted to make sure I kept in touch with the needs and wants of people who use services and their families. I bring to the board an understanding of advocacy, the public and voluntary sector, in particular commissioning and strategy development.”
Andrew works in the innovations and insight directorate at the British Red Cross. His background in research and consultation enables him to understand the impact charities make, and recommend ways of enhancing their social good. Andrew has worked in research across a range of areas within the charity sector, with a particular focus on health, housing and ways to empower people with lived experience to act as champions of their own experiences.
Andrew has dyspraxia, and has lived experience of disability activism, including his tenure as the co-chair of the British Red Cross’ diversity network. He also has a passionate interest in the autism sector, and was previously a trustee of the Burgess Autistic Trust. His experience of disability and health needs, coupled with his expertise in philanthropic strategy and development, place him in a strong position to put our service users at the heart of our decision making process.
“I come from a mixed background of social research, policy work, and consultancy. Much of my research background is on how to engage and empower vulnerable people, so I find the idea of an advocacy charity really powerful. I am also disabled and have my own bad experience of engaging with ‘the system’ so am interested in working with a charity that helps people have their voice heard. I’m really looking forward to seeing how VoiceAbility develops and builds on some of the ambitions outlined in its strategy.”