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About Communities that Work

Communities that Work (CtW) is the national body in England focused on social housing and employment. We link housing, employment, and government together to drive more and better job and earnings outcomes for working-age tenants and residents across our communities. We are led by our members; social landlords who own and manage 1.6 million homes across England. Our members support people from across our communities to thrive in life through meaningful work that rewards; sustaining livelihoods, securing households and creating safe and healthy places to live.

Communities that Work 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.

Meet our Executive Team

Lynsey Sweeney

Managing Director

Lynsey Sweeney is the Managing Director of Communities that Work. She has worked across housing, employment and skills for 15 years with Communities that Work and the National Housing Federation. Lynsey was a Director at a central London Further Education College and consulted for KPMG on their World Class Skills programme. Prior to this, she worked for VSO in China, Ethiopia and London.

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Jenny Riddell-Carpenter

Managing Director, Advocacy and Public Affairs, Cratus

Jenny has led work in social housing communications and lobbying for ten years. She works on a range of infrastructure and housing briefs, helping clients deliver strategic PR and communication needs.

Charlotte Platten

Account Director, Cratus

Charlotte works with private sector clients and councils to engage with governments and build relationships at a local and national level, run national campaigns and events and engage local residents and stakeholders. Charlotte’s advisory clients include both large unitary authorities and district councils across the UK. Sensitively reviewing and assisting to implement changes in governance, process and culture of these organisations this is something that she finds very rewarding. Working with Cratus’ associates she is able to advise on political management, the running of committees and team structures.

Steve Hickman

Finance Lead

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.

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Karen Grout

Lead Administrator

Karen has worked on a part-time basis for CtW for the past year. She was part of the Increase VS project team that helps people to set up their own businesses and supports them to become sustainable, flourishing entrepreneurs. Karen’s background is in HR and she has a keen interest in Emergency Response and Resilience. She has previously worked for the British Red Cross, Benenden Hospital and was with the NHS for over 20 years.

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Meet our Board of Directors

The board is drawn from members of Communities that Work and represents a broad range of experience and expertise.

Kate Shone

Chair, Communities that Work @ Torus Group
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.

Debra Scarratt

Vice Chair, Communities that Work @ Abri

Debra Scarratt is Group Employment Services Manager at Abri, one of the south of England’s largest housing providers. The team deliver a range of contracts focused on moving people into employment, education and training. Debra worked in the careers and employment sector for 15 years before moving into housing; she brings a 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. Debra says: "There’s no question that Communities that Work is central to influencing policy, to recognise housing associations as leaders in employment and skill support.”

Rob Bowley

Treasurer, Communities that Work @ 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.

Charmaine Simei

Director, Communities that Work @Tuntum Housing

Charmaine is the Chief Executive of Tuntum Housing.  Tuntum is the only independent BME-led Housing Association in the East Midlands managing over 1600 properties in 12 local authority areas across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Charmaine was previously the Director of Customer Experience and Communities at Longhurst Group.  Voted Professional of the Year at the Women in Housing Awards 2021, she is also a former chair of the Centre of Excellence Community Investment East of England network and co-chair of HACT’s Racial Equality Group, having been a long-serving mentor for the Housing Diversity Network.

Jo Pownall

Director, Communities that Work @ Clarion Futures

Jo Pownall is Employment and Training Development Manager at Clarion Futures Jobs & Training, the charitable foundation arm of Clarion Housing Group, the largest housing association in the country. Jo is responsible for developing Clarion Future's national jobs and training offer, focusing on making sure that services support the employment and skills aspirations of residents and communities.  Jo has worked in the social housing sector for 15 years across a number of social housing landlords, building significant experience in community investment, resident involvement and employability services.  

Suzanne Jobson

Director, Communities that Work @ 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.

Sandra Coleing

Director, Communities that Work @ Rochdale Boroughwide Housing

Sandra Coleing is the Executive Director of Corporate Services at Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. Prior to this, she was Assistant Chief Executive at Stockport Homes Group. Sandra has worked in the social housing sector for 30 years. She supports a wide range of initiatives across Greater Manchester, ensuring a collaborative approach between housing providers to maximise opportunities for customer and communities. 

Jenny Jackson

Director, Communities that Work @ Futures Housing Group

Jenny Jackson is Tenancy Support and Employability Manager at Futures Housing Group. Jenny is responsible for supporting customers in financial crisis, tenancy sustainment and employment and training opportunities. Jenny has worked at Futures for over a decade, developing its employment advice service. She chaired the Midlands Housing and Employment Forum for two years, bringing together housing associations working in the employment sector across the Midlands. Prior to this Jenny worked at various local authorities and charities supporting communities in regeneration and capacity building.

Nic McGrath

Director, Communities that Work @ Newground Together

Nic McGrath has been Director of Newground Together since 2018, a registered charity which is an integral part of the Together Housing Group, one of the largest Housing Associations in the North of England. Nic leads Together Housing's Social Value Strategy, which focuses on empowering individuals through employment and enhancing community wellbeing. A key priority is supporting residents to secure work, training and volunteering opportunities. Nic is a passionate advocate for partnership working, believing that collaborations with community organisations, local authorities and social housing providers create the most effective networks to maximise support for communities.