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

Tom Tallon, Cambridgeshire County Council

Contact Tom 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

Irmani Smallwood, South London YMCA 

Irmani Smallwood joined South London YMCA in October 2012. Having over 14 years’ experience in the homelessness sector in London and nationally, Irmani’s previous roles include Director of Business Development at Stonham (part of the Home Group), Head of New Business at Look Ahead Housing and Care and prior to that Head of Innovation and Good Practice at Homeless Link. Irmani has sat on the Board of Groundswell UK for over 5 years and is passionate about improving life chances and opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.

Contact Irmani by email.

Paul Wishart, Tower Hamlets

Paul has worked in a range of positions over the last 25 years linked mainly to supported housing, including as a support worker, resettlement worker and a managerial position in a young people’s project, as well as commissioning roles within a number of London Boroughs (in permanent and interim management positions). He currently works for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets as a Commissioning Manager, with responsibility for hostels. Within this role, he led on the re-procurement of the hostel sector, which comprised of approximately 550 bed spaces across 9 different hostel sites.

Contact Paul by email.

North East representatives

Phill Dobson, Oasis Aquila Housing

Contact Phill via email

North West representative

Tim Keightley, The Foxton Centre

Contact Tim by email.

David Carter, The Whitechapel Centre

Contact David by email

South East representatives

Benn Kiley, A2 Dominion

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

James McDermott, Two Saints

James joined Two Saints in December 2002 and is responsible for operations for a regional patch. He is a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) with over 20 years experience in the sector. Previous experience includes youth work and substance misuse. He has also had the opportunity to progress in several roles at Two Saints and has been a front line project worker progressing to service and senior management roles.

Contact James by email.

South West representatives

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 

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 & Humber representatives

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

There are currently no vacancies on the NAC, but if you are interested in joining, please complete the below nomination form and we will consider your application as soon as a position become available.


Talk To Us

Jonathon Graham

Jonathon Graham

Policy Officer

Jonathon is responsible for a range of policy areas, including welfare reform and migration.

Telephone: 020 7840 4411

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