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Meet the team

Communities that Work is supported by a team of advisers, communication specialists, and digital consultants. The board is drawn from members of Communities that Work and represents a broad range of experience and expertise.

  • Lynsey Sweeney

    Managing Director

    Lynsey Sweeney is the Managing Director of Communities that Work. She has worked across housing, employment and skills for a decade, with Communities that Work and the National Housing Federation. Lynsey was a director at a central London Further Education College, co-founded the first Apprenticeship Training Agency in the UK and consulted for KPMG on their World Class Skills programme. Prior to this, Lynsey worked for VSO in China, Ethiopia and London.

  • Jenny Riddell-Carpenter

    Director, Cavendish Advocacy

    Jenny Riddell-Carpenter is director at Cavendish Advocacy and leads Communities that Work’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.

  • Leslie Wertheimer

    Account Director, Cavendish Advocacy

    Leslie Wertheimer is an Account Director at Cavendish Advocacy and supports Communities that Work’s award-winning communications work. She brings nearly a decade of international experience working in communications and public affairs. She has a proven track record of driving strategies that deliver outcomes and guide public opinion across a wide range of sectors including social housing.

  • Steve Hickman

    Finance Officer

    Steve was appointed as Finance Officer for Communities that Work in October 2020. He has worked in Accountancy since leaving college in 1988, both in general practice and in industry, and has an expert knowledge of Sage 50 Accounting & Payroll software packages following a period of time working for a Sage dealer in Southampton, where he was a chief trainer & bookkeeping manager. In 2003 he formed Keystroke Accountancy Services Ltd, supporting the accounting functions of a portfolio of companies and charities, including Communities that Work.

  • Kate Shone

    Chair of Communities that Work
    Torus Foundation

    Kate Shone is managing director of Torus Foundation. Torus Foundation is the charitable arm of Torus, the largest social landlord in the North West with over 40,000 homes.

    Kate holds an MSc in Management from the University of Chester and has been part of Communities that Work since its inception.

    Kate is passionate that our communities have access to much needed services that tailor their individual needs depending on circumstances, personal skills and goals, to get people to a place in the life they wish to be.

  • Julie Haywood

    Vice Chair, Communities that Work

    Julie Haywood is director of community investment at whg, a Midlands-based housing association. Julie leads on Community Investment programme at whg which includes employment and skills, financial and digital inclusion, strategic and community partnerships as well as overseeing programmes funded through whg’s charitable subsidiary organisations.

    Julie sees Communities that Work as a key national voice in raising the profile of housing associations’ delivery in the employment and skills agenda. Sustaining tenancies is core to housing associations’ business, and a key component of this is supporting people into work. Julie is keen to showcase this work through Communities that Work and encourage other social landlords to join us.

  • Debra Scarratt

    Treasurer, Communities that Work
    Abri Group

    Debra Scarratt is head of Inspired to Achieve and 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.

    Debra has over 15 years’ experience working in the careers and employment sector starting as a careers adviser and quickly progressing to work in senior management positions. Debra brings a unique and wide-ranging wealth of knowledge on best practice to support opportunities for social inclusion and mobility across communities.

  • Charmaine Simei

    Longhurst Group

    Charmaine is Director of Community Investment at Longhurst Group, one of the largest housing groups in the Midlands and East of England. Charmaine has responsibility for the Group’s Community Investment strategy and has over 25 years’ experience in the housing sector, occupying a wide range of roles. With a strong passion for social justice and social mobility, she is chair of the Centre for Excellence Community Investment East of England network, and co-chair of HACT’s Racial Equality Group.

  • William Miller


    William Miller is community development director at Optivo, where he leads the community development strategy and service delivery across the organisation.

    William's priority is supporting residents into training, jobs and community enterprise activities. He recognises the contribution that Communities that Work makes in supporting housing associations to develop and deliver better leading-edge resident employment support services, and better support for residents into employment.

  • Jo Pownall

    Nottingham City Homes

    Jo Pownall is employability manager at Nottingham City Homes, an arms-length management organisation and the largest social housing organisation in the East Midlands. Jo has been working within social housing for over 10 years across employability, community investment, resident involvement and volunteer management. Jo currently leads on the strategic vision for employment support at NCH which also includes the delivery of commissioned projects such as Building Skills for Construction and joint partnership work with Clarion. Jo also oversees the management of their Women in Construction programme.

  • Suzanne Jobson

    Karbon Homes

    Suzanne has worked in the social housing sector for over 11 years, specifically across the financial and digital inclusion and employability agenda. Suzanne manages the employment, skills and digital support team at Karbon Homes, whose footprint covers the North East of England and Yorkshire with almost 30,000 homes serving diverse communities, all facing different opportunities and challenges. Suzanne sees Communities that Work as a driving force to promote and strengthen the key role that the social housing sector plays in the employability agenda and is keen to bring the North East voice to this important conversation.

  • John Gleeson

    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 organisation 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.

  • Rob Bowley

    Metropolitan Thames Valley

    Rob Bowley has over 20 years’ experience across housing, government, welfare to work and finance. For the past five years, Rob has been at Metropolitan Thames Valley, as head of neighbourhoods with responsibility for community engagement and investment work with the association's 150,000 residents, additionally heading up the Business Development division since 2017. Rob volunteers for the Royal National Institute for the blind and is a school governor at a local comprehensive.