I became a trustee over the Summer of 2023. 

I’m a qualified social worker and retired in 2019 after about 40 years working in services. Most of my career has been in learning disabilities as a social worker, team manager, head of LD services and commissioner for both the NHS and Local Authorities. I have considerable experience of ensuring services are person centred, helping services to change and adapt to the changing and challenging world of public sector funding and ensuring that services continue to support and enable people with learning disability lead the lives they want to lead, not the lives others think they should.

I also have a four and a half year old grand daughter who has downs syndrome. Spending time with her and her parents has taught me more about the lives of people with learning disabilities than my 40 plus years of working in public services.

The request to become a trustee came at a time in my life when I was readjusting to a significant change in my personal life and felt it was an appropriate time to become involved again in an area of work in which I had spent most of my professional career and to use my skills and experience in a different way. I had been involved in setting up Natural Breaks early in my career; it seemed a natural move at the end of my career.

Additionally it was the previous chief exec who approached me. As many know to their cost, saying no to her was rarely received well!

In terms of future plans for Natural Breaks, I hope to see it continue providing support to people with learning disabilities for many years. It was originally set up to meet some key local challenges; namely support people for whom local authority provided services were inappropriate and to support people returning to the community from long stay hospitals.

Other and different challenges are now more relevant, namely to provide good quality support for young people moving into adulthood and to seek to facilitate and support environments which will enable people with learning disability to lead the lives which the majority of the population aspire to and take for granted. I would like to see it developing, as it historically has done, cutting edge ways of supporting people with learning disability using modern technology and use of informal support networks.