Our board of trustees is made up of volunteers committed to helping the local community. Our current members are:
Wendy Spray (Co-Chair)
Wendy became a trustee in 2017. She is a freelance life coach helping people clarify their goals and reach their full potential. For 15 years, she led the community involvement team at OCHA/GreenSquare Housing Association which involved working closely with the advice centre.
Wendy has also worked in Brookes University setting up and running a course in Tenant Participation. In the 1980s, she worked for a Tenants Association in London facilitating their involvement in a major rehabilitation scheme and helping them establish the first Estate Management Board in London. She has lived and worked in Botswana as a District Development Officer and in Lesotho as a secondary school teacher.
Paul Dornan (Co-Chair)
Paul Dornan has been a trustee since 2010 and treasurer since late 2016. His background includes work as senior policy officer in Oxford University’s Department of International Development, leading policy activity on the ‘Young Lives’ study of child poverty in developing countries.
Andrew Carver (Treasurer)
Andrew started working life as an economist with the Overseas Development Administration (now DfID), leading to secondment work in Lesotho, and then leaving the UK government as new projects manager at the Botswana Development Corporation. He then took a MBA from INSEAD and had a career in business, in roles spanning business development, strategy, and product management. It included founding a software start-up. He retired in late 2016 and has been a trustee and treasurer since June 2017.
Cathy Foot (Company Secretary)
Cathy Foot has lived in Blackbird Leys for 25 years. She has many years of experience working in administrative roles in the education and charity sectors. She currently works as Finance and Administration Officer for the Community Development Initiative in Blackbird Leys.
Kate started work in the civil service. She volunteered for the Citizens Advice Bureau for 9 years, while her children were young. In the mid 1980s Kate worked in the social housing sector, and in the mid 1990s she was a volunteer for the UN in Kenya, on a project providing glasses for the developing world. Kate returned to social housing and became a team leader managing sheltered housing for a local housing association. She is also a trustee of a charity for brain injury, rehabilitation and development. She has been a trustee since 2008.
Elaine has been a trustee since 2011. She is a senior research fellow at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, where the main focus of her research is with children, young people and families at risk of marginalisation and disadvantage. She is currently working on research related to poverty and social exclusion and the wellbeing outcomes of young migrants.
She has previously carried out many other research studies on health, education, care and community issues both nationally and internationally.
Beverley became a trustee at the end of 2014. Beverley has many years of experience working in human resources for Oxfam GB. She lives locally in Blackbird Leys and is married to Councillor, Rae Humberstone, who was selected as Lord Mayor of Oxford in 2015/16.
Simon has been a trustee since 2002. Originally he studied business and tourism in Bournemouth and worked for two years in life assurance, before starting work in a hostel for homeless people in Swindon in 1990. He then qualified as a social worker at Oxford Brookes University, but remained working with homeless people. He worked as Project Manager of O’Hanlon House (formerly Oxford Night Shelter) for 17 years. Simon is currently Head of Housing at Oxfordshire Mind.
Simon was previously a volunteer adviser at the Oxford Citizens Advice Bureau, and is a member of the local church on Blackbird Leys. Whilst manager of the Night Shelter, he completed an MSc in voluntary sector management at the Cass Business School, City University, London. He is also a trustee of a charity working in Nicaragua.
Cora is a resident of Blackbird Leys and has been involved with the Centre since its beginnings in the Holy Family Church; she originally came to the centre for advice as a client before becoming a trustee. Because she lives locally she ensures that she regularly visits the Centre to check that all is well. She acts as a link with the church, having been its chair, and now in a role as church officer.
Cora is a retired British Telecom superviser, having trained recruits for the operator system for BT (and had the experience of being made redundant several times by them); she has also worked as an adult guidance counsellor with Link training in Oxford. Her volunteering work includes having been chair of the African Caribbean Community Network, and she is still on the loans committee of the local credit union.
Jesse became a trustee in 2017, having moved to The Leys in the spring of 2016. He currently works as an Admissions and Course Administrator at Ruskin College, an adult education college for further and higher education which aims to provide educational opportunities for those groups particularly underrepresented. Before that he worked for Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, as a caseworker, during her tenure as the Labour Member of the European Parliament for the South East of England. Jesse is also joint Disability Officer for the Oxford and District Labour Party and sits on its Executive Committee.
Gillian moved to live near Oxford in 2017. Previously living in Orpington, Kent, she qualified as a barrister but worked initially managing a CAB in Thamesmead for 7 years, employing and training staff to offer advice to the Vietnamese ‘boat people’ in the 1980s. Gillian retired from full time practice as a child care barrister in 2017. She sits as a legally qualified chair on tribunals for the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.
Imade Edosomwan is a local resident of over 25 years. He has been an active member of community groups and founded a group called One Justice which seeks to address the issues faced by government policies impacting on migrants. He is also the vice chair of Oxford Community Action which has been providing a food bank and a youth programme in the past year. He is currently serving as the County Councillor for Blackbird Leys. He is driven to be part of the trustee board at Agnes Smith Advice Centre because he has seen for himself the struggles and issues that local people face and the need to have friendly, knowledgeable advisors that can help people when facing hardship