Meet our staff

Learn more about some of our staff here at Changing Lives:


Stuart

Veterans Outreach Worker, Newcastle and Gateshead

My background is in the Armed Services, so it is extremely satisfying to work with veterans now and help them back into civilian life.

I joined the Army at the age of fifteen and left at forty. Initially I found the structure of the armed forces difficult to deal with. But then when I left the Armed Services I found it difficult to make the transition back into civilian life.

This experience has given me a wide-range of skills and understanding to support the people who come to Changing Lives for help after leaving the Armed Services. I’ve gone through what a lot of the people who use our services have, and am pleased to be in a position to help them.

Changing Lives run two projects for veterans in the North East, providing support with accommodation independent living skills and emotional wellbeing. All the veterans have different reasons for using our services, but they share common experiences of homelessness, substance misuse and difficulty making the transition from services life to civilian life.

Before becoming the Veterans Outreach worker, I worked as the client lead for two years at a forty-nine bed accommodation project for people experiencing homelessness in Durham.

What struck me there was that, although individually their personal needs were very different, being homeless generated feelings of vulnerability, isolation, and rejection from society and family.

We worked hard to provide residents not only with a place to stay, but with 1-2-1 support to help them overcome these emotions and rebuild their lives and relationships.

Many of the people I have supported in Changing Lives over the last three years have suffered from alcohol and substance misuse, mental health issues, or homelessness, or a combination of all three.

I personally have experience of alcohol misuse as well as being a veteran, so I can draw upon my experiences in my work.

Working at Changing Lives has been an enlightening experience, it has not only provided me with a very fulfilling job, but I have also learnt a lot about myself, and who I really am. As a result I’d definitely recommend considering a career here.

Lakhbir

Senior Programme Facilitator, Walsall and Wolverhampton

My background is in the housing, domestic abuse and learning disabilities fields in the West Midlands, where I’ve held a number of frontline and senior roles. Working in various roles and areas has given me a range of skills and understanding to support vulnerable people who come to Changing Lives for help and support.

In my current role at Changing Lives, I support vulnerable women in the criminal justice system in Walsall and Wolverhampton. My project supports women who have left prison on licence, custodial order or community order. We help them to overcome personal challenges that might cause them to reoffend. We support women to establish a life away from crime, resettle into society and avoid reoffending.

I find it a privilege to support the women. They all have different reasons for being in the system and bring along and share their experiences of mental health, substance misuse, homelessness, domestic abuse and the cycle of offending.

Prior to working at Changing Lives I have:

  • Been a service coordinator for a housing association, managing a tenacy support service for people with learning disabilities
  • Managed the first domestic abuse multi-agency team under one roof as well as facilitate and coordinate the first MARAC in the West Midlands
  • Worked as Refuge Services Manager for several domestic abuse refuges, one of which was a prominently Asian women’s refuge. This was challenging and busy, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

My work experience has not only shaped me as a person but allowed me to reflect on life as a whole as an Asian Orthodox Sikh woman. I appreciate and am grateful for what I have and focus on the positive things in my life rather than the negative, especially when you are supporting vulnerable chaotic women.

I really enjoy and feel proud to work for Changing lives. I work in a great team here in Wolverhampton/Walsall which makes my job even better and fulfilling!

I strongly believe Changing Lives stand for what they are and strive to make a difference in people’s lives.

Sharon

Senior Childcare Worker, Doncaster

My journey with Changing Lives begins with my family.

I have a wonderful family comprising me and my three sons. My eldest boy is special and sees the world in a unique way. He is non-verbal and although he’s challenging, it was always manageable. That is, until he turned 15, and his aggression became more than we could cope with. After working with social workers for a long time, the day came when my family had to be separated, with my eldest going into specialist accommodation.

After he left, my world became so quiet. The silence was deafening. I needed a distraction to keep me busy and take my mind off my situation.

So I attended a volunteer recruitment day and enrolled on a volunteer course with Changing Lives. My project worker was fantastic and knew exactly how to support me. It was time to work on me, and my time at Changing Lives made a huge impression on my life.

For the next year, after leaving Changing Lives, I enjoyed throwing myself into new projects. I’m a qualified nursery nurse, so I started a parent support group, and joined a local community group who held events and fundraisers. But in the back of my mind always was Changing Lives creche…

After all I had been through, I understood what the families could be going through, so I took a chance and met with the children’s services manager, Carmelle. We had a lovely chat and I started volunteering two days a week.

Creche was amazing! The families had so many challenges but were all trying their best and getting help. I felt right at home and volunteered for 8 months. Then a position became available! I tried to stay calm whilst internally doing a dance. I had all my training up to date, took an online top up course and applied. 

And the rest, as they say, is history! I got the job and have never looked back.

I’m so proud of how far my boys and I have come. They are all very happy and settled, and I really love my job. It’s challenging but by far the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.

Sead

National Volunteer Manager

I am the Volunteering Manager at Changing Lives, which means I am responsible for recruiting, retaining and supporting volunteers into meaningful roles at our wonderful charity. I also look after policies and procedures that are designed to enhance management of volunteers.

I have always been interested in volunteering and have volunteered myself since I was 16 years old. I was motivated by Augustine Mandino’s quote which made me truly realise the pleasure in giving my time and money for good causes. He said “Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself”.

If you have never volunteered try it, and trust me, you’ll love it! We have lots of satisfying volunteer roles here at Changing Lives, which we advertise on our website. Volunteers can make a real difference to the lives of the people who use our services, directly and indirectly. Volunteering is also a great way to develop yourself and gain skills and confidence.

I am very happy to be working for Changing Lives as it gives me this strong belief and hope that I am, and will be doing my bit to change people’s lives. It is a lovely place to work too, with great people doing fantastic work.
Originally from Bosnia, I have been living and working in the UK for 25 years. Prior to joining Changing Lives in May 2014, I worked in the voluntary and community sector for 15 years, as well as in the NHS, improving access to healthcare.

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