Barbara Stevenson - Operations Director
As Operations Director I am part of the Corporate Management Team and responsible for a number of services for young people and families in London and the South East.
I have worked in Social Housing for 16 years and experienced the vicissitudes inherent in the sector during this period, for example the increasing emphasis on tenant involvement and the continuing challenges presented by changes in the funding of services. No week is the same as the next and it is a privilege working with people who can help change the lives of those who are disadvantaged.
My first career was in Science. I worked for a Pharmaceutical company after leaving school at 16 years and through day release re-entered full time education to take my A levels and then a degree in Biochemistry. After eight years as Projects Manager for a Research Association I worked from home as freelance researcher whilst caring for my young children. During this period I enjoyed being part of a number of voluntary groups and supported other parents through Homestart, National Childbirth Trust and our local Maternity Services Liaison Group which I chaired for several years.
In 1994 I joined English Churches Housing Group in Surrey to work with young mothers with support needs and in 2000 supplemented my education with an MSc from London University/British Association of Psychotherapists. Pilgrim Housing provided move-on accommodation for the young parent service and in 1996 I became a member of their management committee while working at ECHG.
After moving to Aldershot to manage a hostel accommodating homeless 16/17 year olds I returned to Surrey to join Chapter 1 as Locality Manager of a hostel for young women and to set up our first Refuge. The service flourished and in 2004 extended to include a children’s service and an outreach service for local residents. Since this time I have had responsibility for corporate lead in Domestic Abuse Services at Chapter 1 and deliver training to agencies and staff.
In 2005 I joined the Corporate Management Team as Area Manager for the South Projects and in 2008 changed to a more strategic role to become one of the Operations Directors at Chapter 1. In the past 3 years, one of the challenges we have faced as a corporate team has been the tendering and the procurement of support services. Although this has taken up a lot of energy it has enabled further expansion of our existing services and the creation of some new ones.
In the next few years we will be facing the challenges associated with benefit changes, personalisation and cuts to public services. My focus will be on sustaining our current services and the further diversification of our funding streams.
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