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 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.
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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.

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Esme Roberts

Account Director, Cavendish Advocacy

Esme is an account director as Cavendish Advocacy.  Originally from Manchester, Esme enjoys working on projects across multiple regions and investing time to get to know the dynamics of different cities and towns. She has worked for a number of housing associations - Places for People, Your Housing Group and One Manchester - to create strategic communications plans to help them achieve their key goals and deliver new homes and amenities for a wide range of communities. 

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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

Team Administrator

Karen is our team administrator (part-time), for and on behalf of Communities that Work, supported by Optivo. She provides administrative support to Communities that Work, working directly with the Managing Director and a range of our stakeholders. Karen is also a P/T Administrator for Optivo, working on the ERDF funded ‘Increase VS project’ for the past 4 years, a project that helps people to set up their own businesses and supports them to become sustainable, flourishing entrepreneurs. Karen 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

Treasurer, Communities that Work @ Abri

Debra Scarratt, leads the employment support function across the south west 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. Prior to Abri, 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. Debra says: “There’s no question that Communities that Work has an important part to play in influencing policy and perceptions to recognise housing associations as leaders in employment and skill support. Housing associations are community anchors. We listen to communities and provide resources to help turn their neighbourhoods into thriving pockets of opportunity. This takes work; a meeting of minds with the same end goals – in this case to increase employment for those struggling to find it – to really tackle the issues we’re now facing. At Abri we’re committed to making this happen; our £15m five- year investment, which has a focus on employment, health and wellbeing, and community empowerment, will make sure we’re able to drive change where it’s needed most.”

Charmaine Simei

Director, Communities that Work @ Longhurst Group

Charmaine is Director of Customer Experience and Communities at Longhurst Group, one of the largest housing groups in the Midlands and East of England. Charmaine has responsibility for the Group’s Customer  and Communities 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, co-chair of HACT’s Racial Equality Group and winner at the Women in Housing Awards 2021.


William Miller

Director, Communities that Work @ Optivo
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

Director, Communities that Work @ 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

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.

John Gleeson

Director, Communities that Work @ Southern Housing Group

John Gleeson is Head of Funding and Innovation at Southern Housing Group, where he has led a range of initiatives and activities over the past ten years, including employment and skills, financial and digital inclusion and community development.

Prior to joining Southern Housing Group, John worked for 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

Director, 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.

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© Communities that Work 2021. All rights reserved. Communities that Work Ltd is a UK registered company.
Our Company number is 9770212.