National Advisory Council

The National Advisory Council is our main forum for members to feed in to our policy direction.

With member representatives across England, the NAC offers an opportunity for you to discuss and feed in on your regional, national and political concerns, and to share views and ideas.

Vacancies for the NAC arise from time to time. If you would like to find out more about becoming a representative please contact Jonathon Graham.

East of England representative

Kevin Hanner, City Reach Health Services

Kevin has 20 years experience of working in services for the homeless and marginalised groups. He initially worked in a variety of posts in homeless day centres and hostels in Nottingham and Norwich before completing a qualification in social work.

Kevin subsequently worked as a Social Worker/AMHP in a busy central London Mental Health and Homelessness Team before becoming a Senior AMHP in a central London CMHT. He has maintained his passion for the third sector by seeking opportunities of working as a trustee within the field of problematic substance use and maintains a link with academic research by working as a guest lecturer at the UEA schools of medicine and Social Work.

Kevin is currently employed as Service Manager for Vulnerable Groups within NCH&C NHS Trust. These include City Reach Health Services, a GP led multi-disciplinary health service for marginalised groups in Norwich, The Matrix, a sex worker support service for Norfolk and the Norfolk TB service. He is also a member of Homelesslink’s National Advisory Council and continues to work as an Approved Mental Health Professional for Norfolk County Council.

Contact Kevin by email

East Midlands representatives


Catherine Cook, HLG

Catherine works for HLG - a voluntary sector organisation supporting homeless and vulnerable people. She is part of the Resource Team, which provides specialist infrastructure support to the housing and homelessness sector across Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County.

After studying Sociology at University but not knowing quite what to do next, Catherine had a series of quite varied jobs in retail and banking. She began volunteering in her mid-twenties, working with children living in care and as a young person’s mentor, which led to working for HLG as a tenancy support worker for care leavers.

Catherine has worked in the Resource Team for several years and her role is to support organisations working with homeless and vulnerable people to improve their practice and services they offer. Catherine is also a director of a Community Interest Company called Services for Empowerment & Advocacy (SEA), which provides advocacy for people receiving housing related support and service user involvement opportunities.

Contact Catherine by email

London representatives

Jon Kuhrt, West London Mission

Jon is the Executive Director of Social Work at the West London Mission, which is part of the Methodist Church. They currently run a day centre in Westminster, three hostels, supported housing and a community counselling service. 

Prior to this Jon was Director of Community Mission at The Shaftesbury Society (2002-2010); a hostel manager for Centrepoint running emergency hostels for young rough sleepers (1997-2002) and a project worker for Novas in a large hostel in Hackney (1995-97) including a secondment to manage a Crisis Winter Watch shelter.

Contact Jon by email

Danny Maher, Ashford Place (formerly Cricklewood Homeless Concern)

Contact Danny by email

North East representatives

Neil Baird, Changing Lives (formerly The Cyrenians)

Neil joined Changing Lives in 2002 as Assistant Director. He has succesfully influenced both frontline practice and the strategic development of the organisation. Neil is a passionate advocate for the need to improve the public perception of homelessness and has been instrumental in developing Changing Lives' communications and public relations agenda.

Contact Neil by email

Phill Dobson, Oasis Aquila Housing

Contact Phill via email

North West representative

David Carter, The Whitechapel Centre

Contact David by email

South East representatives

Benn Kiley, Simon House

After gaining an Honours Degree in Philosophy, specialising in applied ethics and the nature of the religious experience, Benn Kiley pursued a career as a writer. In 2000, moved by the fact that vulnerable strangers always seemed to be sharing their difficulties with him, he decided to work in the field of homelessness. He worked with various organisations in differing roles, including becoming Head of Accommodation for a further education college, before working for Stonham in 2002 and eventually joining A2Dominion Group in 2004.

A2Dominion’s Care and Support department deliver support and sheltered services to 1,546 service users with varying needs and manage 2,318 properties throughout the South East and London. Benn holds a remit with the Care and Support senior management team whilst also being directly responsible for Simon House, a large hostel in Oxfordshire. He regards his most satisfying achievements as successfully piloting a service for previously excluded individuals with dual diagnosis/personality disorders and designing, alongside service users, the Pathway to Potential Support Tool.

Benn is also a qualified counsellor, a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and runs his own small private practice.

Contact Benn by email

Mike Barrett, Porchlight

Mike Joined Porchlight as CEO in 1999. He has worked in housing and social care for nearly 30 years within local authorities, a national supported housing association and the charity sector.

Mike is a professionally qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Housing, a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and a member of the UK Housing Panel.

Mike was elected as Chair of the NAC in March 2014.

Contact Mike by email

South West representatives

Sarah Ward, BCHA

Having had a career as a theatre stage manager, Sarah decided on a change of course in 1992 when she became an occupational therapy assistant in a day centre in London for adults with mental health issues. This led to her working as a project worker for Bondway Housing Association (now Thames Reach) in their housing projects in South London.

Sarah relocated to the South West in 2000 where she joined Stonham. Here she managed a range of services for homeless people across Dorset. In 2004 she took up the post of South West Region Practice Development Advisor for Stonham, working across services in the region to develop good practice tools with and for staff and service users and contributing to regional and national policy development.

Sarah has worked for BCHA since 2007, first as the team manager for their direct access hostel and day centre and then as their Homelessness Manager, responsible for all homelessness services as well as service development.

Contact Sarah by email

Phil Noall, Freedom Social Projects

Phil has been the Project Manager of Freedom Social Projects in Barnstaple North Devon since 2003 and has taken the organisation from its embryonic beginnings to where it is today helping in excess of 1500 different people each year. FSP provide a wide range of services to homeless and vulnerable individuals with the Freedom Day Centre being at the heart of things. Following investment under the Places of Change Programme in 2009/10 the Centre now boasts a wide range of first class facilities that help people progress and move forward in their lives.

Prior to 2003, Phil had a career in banking and finance which included positions in Senior Management and Project Management for one of the main high street banks. A lifestyle change took Phil out of this environment in 2003 and after initially retraining as a Drugs worker he took on the Management role of Freedom Social Projects where he has been ever since.

During recent years Phil has been responsible for the development and delivery of a range of projects and services for homeless beneficiaries and has integrated the work of Freedom Social Projects into relevant Statutory and Voluntary sector organisations in North Devon. Phil has been involved with the local authority in the development of local strategies for Rough Sleeping and Homelessness and is also involved in a number of strategic forums in North Devon. As a result of this integration FSP now deliver a HTF ‘No Second Night Out’ project, a CRISIS funded PRS project and 20 beds of supported accommodation some of which is delivered in the context of a ‘Therapeutic Community’. 

Phil is delighted to be a member of the NAC for Homeless Link and is keen to provide representation from a small organisation in one of the more rural areas of the Country.

Contact Phil by email

West Midlands representatives

Gill Brown, Brighter Futures

Gill Brown has recently celebrated 21 years as the chief executive of Brighter Futures. She arrived in Stoke in 1988 and soon after decided that what was needed was the drive and managerial approach of the private sector applied to the flexibility and innovation of the voluntary sector “to see where it would take us”.  She has since learnt that this is called being a social entrepreneur. Today Brighter Futures has a national reputation as a provider of top quality, innovative services, to some of the most hard to reach and disadvantaged people in North Staffordshire and has just been appointed as a rough sleeping champion by the CLG.

Gill believes that the keys to success are; being very clear about who your customer is, trying to understand why they are like they are, managing stakeholder expectations, knowing what you do well and always looking to do it better, an organisation that is outcome focused, knows where its going  in which everyone knows what is expected of them.

Brighter Futures has built close working links with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, together they have reduced and maintained rough sleeping. The Council’s Supporting People Team has used the range of tools and support provided by Homeless Link to focus on effective interventions in hostels, move on planning and resettlement support.

More information can be found at the Brighter Futures website.

Contact Gill by email

Pat McArdle, Mayday Trust

Pat is The Chief Executive Officer of Mayday Trust. The Trust provides support to vulnerable adults across Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.  These include specialist schemes for people with mental health problems and learning difficulties. The main focus of their work is to provide independence through improved access to education, learning and employment, improved health outcomes and reducing reoffending.

Prior to this Pat has worked for 23 years in the voluntary sector in England and in Ireland. She has worked as Director of Services for the YWCA England and Wales, as Head of Network Services for the Foyer Federation and on the Board of CARA Housing Association.

Contact Pat by email

Yorkshire and Humber representatives

Tony Beech, St Anne’s Community Services

Tony started his career as a nursing assistant for mental health services in Oxfordshire in 1992. In 1994 he joined St Anne’s Community Services in Yorkshire and since that time has taken on a number of roles including support worker in alcohol services, a residential care officer and supported housing worker/deputy manager in Leeds.  After taking on the post of managing LD Residential and Supported Living services in Kirklees, Tony took on his current role as Area Manager which covers mental health, supported living and homelessness services throughout South Yorkshire and Bradford.

Contact Tony by email

Ben Keegan, Roundabout

Ben is the Project Director of Roundabout a Sheffield based charity supporting and housing young people aged 16-25. Roundabout provides a Direct Access hostel, move on accommodation, floating support service and housing for 16 and 17 year old care leavers and offenders.

Ben I started work in this field as a volunteer for the Citizens Advice Bureau in Manchester in 1994 and in 1995 took up his first paid role for Manchester City Council in their Homeless Section as a Homeless Assessment Officer and Hostel worker. He went on to work  for New Islington and Hackney Housing Association (now Family Mosaic) supporting former rough sleepers into their own tenancies. Whilst there he became Team Leader in one of the first Tenancy Sustainment Teams for former rough sleepers.

In 2001 Ben moved to South Yorkshire to manage a large Direct Access men’s hostel run by St Anne’s Community Support Services. He then became Deputy Director of local South Yorkshire Charity Nomad Homeless Advice and Support.

Contact Ben by Email

National representatives

Athol Halle, Groundswell

Athol has been working with Groundswell since 2003, taking on the role of Chief Executive in 2006. Groundswell exists to enable homeless and vulnerable people to take more control of their lives, have a greater influence on the services they use and to play a full role in their communities. This is achieved through delivering participatory research, supporting client involvement initiatives and creating peer advocacy projects. 

Athol worked as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities and physical disabilities before moving into more strategic roles with Amnesty International, National Homeless Alliance and Cardboard Citizens.  He is a graduate of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and a Trustee of the Glimmer of Hope UK Foundation.

Contact Athol by email

Amanda Duberry, Step by Step

Amanda is Chief Executive for Step by Step. Step by Step works with young people and who are homeless or facing adversity to empower them to achieve their full potential. Step by Step work across Hampshire, Surrey and West Berkshire with almost 1,000 young people each year providing foyer accommodation and a range of specialist support services to young people aged between 11 and 29 years.

Amanda has worked with homeless young people for the last 18 years in a range of positions after gaining a degree in psychology and qualifying in social work. Amanda is also a board member for both the Foyer Federation and Rushmoor Healthy Living.

Contact Amanda by email

Board representative

Lesley Dewhurst, Oxford Homeless Pathways

Lesley is Chief Executive of Oxford Homeless Pathways providing a variety of services to homeless people in Oxford. She has worked in the homelessness sector for nearly 25 years in a variety of roles, from front line worker to management. She is particularly proud of being one of the founder members of the Elmore Team who provide an innovative service to adults with complex, mulitple needs. As well as being on Homeless Link's Board since 2009, Lesley is an advisor to the Oxford Emmaus community. Past roles include being Chair of Connection (floating support across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire) and the creation of low-cost counselling services for women, as well as a short career in stage management.

Service user representatives

Gary Staniforth, The Hidden Homeless

In 2008 Gary was homeless and living in the salvation army, while there he stood on the city hall steps in protest and stood up for the rights of single homeless people and petitioned the council to speak in council chambers about legislation and discrimination.

He came second in the Michael whipman award in 2011 for the magazine and now social enterprise “Hidden Voices” (The Hidden Homeless Ltd) of which he is the founder and CEO. The Hidden Voices is his way of gaining and giving a voice to service users to help them campaign and for others to see that everyone has a story to tell & there is always a way out of the negative place we end up if we get the right support.

Contact Gary by email

NAC nomination form

Complete this form if you would like to be nominated to join Homeless Link's National Advisory Council. 


Talk To Us

Jonathon Graham

Jonathon Graham

Policy Officer

Jonathon is responsible for a range of policy areas, including welfare reform and migration. In addition to these general areas, he also works on the Picture the Change and Arts for All: Get Creative projects. Jonathon is a member of the Voices from the Frontline Policy Group, which consists of representatives from Homeless Link, Mind, Drugscope and Clinks and was brought together to address the needs of services users with multiple and complex needs.

Telephone: 020 7840 4411

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