A warm welcome to new faces at Community First Yorkshire

9 February 2023

The last few months have seen some changes to the team here at Community First Yorkshire. I want to share these developments with you to reassure everyone that we are as focussed as ever on championing and helping the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to flourish in North, South and West Yorkshire.

With a number of new faces joining the team, it’s an exciting time for us. New skills and areas of expertise mean that we can hone the areas of work where we excel – particularly supporting community groups and organisations.

We have seven new recruits to our team:

  • Anne-Louise Orange is providing maternity cover as our Head of Projects whilst Victoria Russell is on maternity leave; her areas of expertise include environmental and infrastructure regeneration programmes.
  • Dr Mike Hickman is our new Leadership Development and Training Manager, bringing VCSE sector peer support, developing approaches for service delivery and providing training. Previously Mike was head of department in teacher education locally and he has a PhD in Talk Framework for Problem Solving.
  • Dena Dalton joins us in a new role as Head of Health Collaboration. Coming to us from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (where she supported the set up and development of many voluntary and community groups), as a qualified nurse Dena is passionate about the VCSE sector and its vital contribution to communities.
  • Carole Roberts, our new Community Support Delivery Manager, unites wide ranging community development experience including social enterprise, volunteer management and community anchor work and health inequalities with growing up in rural North Yorkshire and living in West Yorkshire now.
  • We also have two new Development Officers, Vicki Sharp and Michael Fletcher, who, along with their backgrounds in youth work, volunteering, banking and advice services, are adding their enthusiasm and vigour to our Community Support North Yorkshire team.
  • Sarah Robinson returns to us via leading a VCSE organisation elsewhere and Stronger Communities as our Building Better Connections Project Coordinator, working with our Carers Plus Yorkshire and Hambleton Community Action colleagues.

You can see all of our new team members on our Team page.

Sadly, with new faces arriving comes the saying goodbye to some more familiar ones.

Amy Tew, Community Support Delivery Manager, has emigrated for a new life on the other side of the world. Amy is very much missed as a hugely conscientious and consummate professional. Pragmatically, even the glories of our beautiful county can’t compete with New Zealand, so though sad, we wish her the fondest of farewells.

We are also saying goodbye to Mark Hopley, our Head of Community Support North Yorkshire, who is retiring at the end of March. Mark will be very much missed and is hugely valued both inside Community First Yorkshire and by commissioners and stakeholders alike. He has been a tremendous support to me personally from the moment I joined the organisation.

With Mark’s retirement, I have asked Caroline O’Neill, currently our Head of Policy and Partnerships, to take on a new role as Head of Community Support and Partnerships. Caroline has been with us for many years and knows the organisation and the sector inside out. She is second to none in her connectedness to everyone and everything in North Yorkshire! I feel so fortunate that Caroline has agreed to grasp this new role with her unerring vim and vigour. I know Mark is much more comfortable about leaving us in the knowledge that he’s passing the Community Support North Yorkshire baton on to Caroline.

So it’s with mixed emotions we say goodbye and huge thanks to our fantastic leavers and welcome wholeheartedly our new recruits at this exciting time for Community First Yorkshire.

Jane Colthup

Chief Executive