Give us a Chance is supported by a team of advisers, communication specialists, and digital consultants. The board is drawn from members of Give us a Chance and represents a broad range of experience and expertise.
Meet the team
Lynsey is the Managing Director of GUAC. She has worked across housing, employment & skills services for the last six years, both with GUAC and the National Housing Federation; developing partnerships and advocating for greater business integration between the two sectors. Lynsey has worked across employment and skills programmes for 10 years, with roles involving business development, work based learning contracts, Apprenticeship Training Agency & Group Training Agency start-ups and Further Education management.
Director at BECG
Jenny Riddell, Director at BECG, and leads GUAC’s communications work. She has been working in social housing communications for over five years, and ten years in communications and lobbying. She works on a range of infrastructure and housing briefs, helping clients deliver strategic PR and communication needs.
BECG is a specialist communications agency, providing public affairs, internal communications and strategic PR counsel across the built environment.
GUAC website administrator / graphic designer
Allen is an independent digital designer providing graphic and web based consultancy services to a variety of local, national, and european clients.
He has a wide range of skills in-house, these include: brand creation and development, graphic design for print, website design and development, e-commerce solutions, online marketing, and social media management.
Barbara is a former housing association Chief Executive and is well known in the sector. She ran West Kent, a top performing association, for 9 years, stepping down in 2010, and was awarded the OBE for services to social housing in 2008. She now runs her own business, coaching and mentoring senior people in the sector and supporting GUAC.
Chair of Give us a Chance,
Sovereign Housing Association
Board member Jon Fisher represents Sovereign Housing, where he is Head of Communities.
Jon joined Sovereign in 2013, and has worked at senior levels across the industry supporting the community investment ambitions of Wandle Housing Association and Hexagon Housing Association prior to moving to Sovereign.
Vice Chair of Give us a Chance,
Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group
Donna is Director of Housing at Shepherds Bush Housing Group. As part of her role, Donna oversees residents access to employment support, including via the award-winning ‘Best Chance’ service which offers support into employment, education, apprenticeships & training for residents and the wider west London community. With more than 20 years’ experience, Donna has focused on community investment as part of housing management.
Talking of the work she does to lead change for residents at SBHG, Donna said: “A job is the biggest factor which transforms and gives people control of their lives. It’s a focus at SBHG as part of our community focus. Knowing the difference this makes made me want to help others do the same and to champion the value it adds.”
Kate Shone is Managing Director for ComMutual, the charitable arm of Liverpool Mutual Homes Group. ComMutual has been established to deliver the non housing related activity for LMH customers and communities. Their work focuses on 4 key pillars which included, employment, financial inclusion, health and wellbeing and digital inclusion. Kate joined the LMH Group in 2016 from Affinity Sutton where she was Manager for the North Region.
Kate holds an MSc in Management from the University of Chester. Kate is an active member of the Results, Opportunities and Change Group in the Liverpool City Region which brings housing colleagues together to tackle employment issues across the region.
Kate has been part of Give us a Chance since its inception and held the post of Chair until 2015. Kate is now the Treasurer for GUAC.
Yarlington Housing Group (Inspired to Achieve)
Debra Scarratt, Head of Inspired to Achieve, leads the employment support function at Yarlington Housing Group, a south west based provider of housing solutions. Inspired to Achieve is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yarlington and works to deliver a range of contracts focused on moving people into employment, education and training.
Prior to Yarlington, Debra held over 15 years’ experience working in careers and employment sector roles starting as a Careers Adviser and quickly progressing to working within senior management positions. Debra brings a unique and wide-ranging wealth of knowledge on best practice to support opportunities for social inclusion and mobility.
Debra is hugely impressed by the excellent employment support that housing associations offer on a daily basis to support a range of people. On joining the Board, Debra said:
“There’s no question that GUAC has an important part to play in influencing policy and perceptions to recognise housing associations as leaders in employment and skill support. I’m delighted to be able to join the team and support this work.”
Community Development Director of Optivo, William Miller, leads on the community development strategy and service delivery across Optivo.
William's main priority is in supporting residents into training, jobs and community enterprise activities. He recognises the contribution GUAC can make in supporting Housing Associations to develop and deliver better, more "leading edge resident employment support services", and better supporting residents into employment.
Southern Housing Group
John Gleeson is Head of Community Investment at Southern Housing Group, where he has led on a range of activities of the Group over the past five years, including employment and skills, financial and digital inclusion and developing community partnerships.
Prior to joining Southern Housing Group, John worked in a number of organisations involved in the provision of housing with support, where he gained an understanding of the support needs of clients further from the labour market.
‘GUAC is important because I believe the social housing sector is on the cusp of developing into a major player in welfare to work provision’
Walsall Housing Group
Julie Haywood is whg Director of Community Investment a Midlands based Housing Association. Julie leads on whg Community Investment programme which includes employment and skills, financial and digital inclusion, strategic and community partnerships as well as overseeing programmes funded through whg charitable subsidiary organisation.
Julie sees GUAC as a key national voice in raising the profile of Housing Association’s delivering on the employment and skills agenda. Sustaining tenancies is core business to HA’s and a key component of this is supporting people into work. Julie is keen to showcase this work through GUAC, increase our membership base of excellent HA’s who should be delivering on this agenda.
London & Quadrant
Matt Bayliss is Head of Independent Lives at L&Q, leading a programme which provides a wide range of personalised economic support to L&Q’s residents and communities, including employment and skills, financial and digital inclusion, and support with sustaining tenancies.
Matt sees GUAC’s value in its ability to raise the profile of the work housing associations do on employment and skills, facilitating strategic partnerships and lobbying decision makers.
Marc has a breadth of knowledge in supporting individuals to achieve their full potential having worked within Health, Education and Housing for 15 years specialising in promoting positive interventions and employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged groups.
Awarded Housing Hero’s ‘Inspirational Leader of the Year’ for his work in employment support services, Marc is passionate about employment and training being viewed as a core function of housing services.
“Having been part of the GUAC journey for many years, I am delighted to join the Board of Directors and support the continual growth of the organisation in raising the profile and evidencing the relevance of training and employment support services within Housing”
Monmouthshire Housing Association
Sian Nicholas is Head of Sustainable Communities at Monmouthshire Housing, where she holds the portfolio for Inclusion Services, Support and Engagement. This includes a range of grant funded and commissioned projects including Dads Can, Journey to Work and Rise to Inspire.
Sian has 20 years’ experience in the community and housing sectors including working on the Welsh Government’s flagship deprivation programme Communities First.
As a new member of GUAC and the only Welsh member Sian is really looking forward to championing GUAC in Wales and being an advocate for this growth