RUSS’s Trustees set the overall strategic direction for the organisation. They monitor performance against the business plan and ensure the organisation’s resources and finances are being correctly managed. The Trustees also provide leadership, guidance, financial governance and ensure that RUSS fulfils its charitable duties. The Trustees include residents that are expected to move into the first project in Lewisham. Collectively the Board has significant experience of business, social housing, community engagement, construction processes, self-build, financial management, risk management and fundraising.
Bernadette has worked in the public sector for over 40 years, in housing, regeneration, front line services and community engagement, with recent roles as Interim Chief Executive at Hornchurch Housing Trust and Interim Director of Housing at London Borough of Havering. She also has 40 years’ service as a Non-Executive Director on local, regional and national organisations, including previously serving as a Councillor on Lewisham Council and a 4-year term on the board of University Hospital Lewisham NHS Trust.
Benny has experience in accounting, finance and risk management and has been a RUSS volunteer. Previously secretary to the Board of Trustees for one of the largest pension schemes in the UK, he has valuable insight into how to establish, improve and use best practice governance procedures. His experience in cashflow modelling and company accounts, both as an actuarial consultant and a company secretary, enables the board to maintain effective oversight of our finances and develop the functioning of the organisation.
Phil is a semi-retired accountant who has worked in social housing for most of his career. He is a board member of Coin Street Community Builders, having been involved at Coin Street since 1984. In the early 1990s he was the finance director at South London Family Housing Association, where he developed funding arrangements for self build housing for rent and shared ownership, and worked with Chisel Neighbourhood Housing Association. This resulted in innovative self build schemes in South London, Brighton and Essex.
Becca has broad experience in local and city government, most recently in her role delivering affordable housing at the Greater London Authority. She also worked for several years as a researcher, at the RSA (Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research). She has particular expertise around sustainable and inclusive models of local economic development, place identity and heritage. She holds an MSc in Social Policy and Planning from the LSE, for which she conducted research with residents of Lambeth housing estates about their experiences of regeneration, gentrification and displacement. Becca lives in SE London and has previously volunteered on site with RUSS, as well as on an off-grid self-build in British Columbia.
Lewis is a Head of Practice at Collaborate, a social consultancy focused on helping the public and voluntary sectors tackle complex social issues. Lewis has a strong background in research and analytics, having previously worked at the homelessness charity Crisis and before that The Children’s Society. His academic background is in Theoretical Physics and he has recently completed Leadership and Management in Homelessness and Housing through London South Bank University and the London Housing Foundation. Lewis is also a volunteer Homelessness Advisor and delivers Advice Services across the Crisis at Christmas Project.
Ben was involved in the tenants’ movement in Lewisham from the late 1970s, when he moved to the Milton Court estate in New Cross. In the 1990s he became a founder member and the first chair (and he is currently acting treasurer) of Five Ways Housing Management Limited, which is one of the only two Tenant Management Organisations in Lewisham set up under the Right to Manage. He was employed in housing from 1989 to 2016, initially for Lewisham Council but subsequently for Southwark. For the last 16 years of his working life he was a member of the Tenant Management Initiatives team in Southwark Housing, which had responsibility for overseeing all the 15 TMOs in the borough. Most recently, he was chair of Voluntary Action Lewisham for the final two years before its merger with the METRO charity.
With over a decade of social housing experience, Shelina works at the Regulator of Social Housing as a financial analyst. Prior to this, she worked as an accountant and senior finance officer in various departments at Camden, Hackney and Islington Councils. She has extensive experience in assessing and improving the financial viability of housing projects, as well as the governance and regulatory compliance of housing developer organisations. She brings her in-depth knowledge of social housing regulations, funding, finances and management to RUSS.
Catherine is the former Chief Executive of the National CLT Network, having founded the organisation in 2010. During that time she helped grow the CLT movement from 30 CLTs to nearly 350 today. She was instrumental in securing the £300m Community Housing Fund, of which RUSS has benefitted, and, in the words of a senior Government official, has made a lasting difference to how the Government sees the role of community led housing. Previously Catherine worked at MHCLG, including for the Minister of Housing, Notting Hill Housing and the think tank IPPR. Catherine is currently working as a freelance consultant, supporting charities on advocacy and policy, and is a member of the Right to Build Task Force Expert Panel, advising local authorities on self and custom build. Catherine is a Brockley local and has been a passionate supporter of RUSS since its infancy.
Carina has over 7 years’ experience working within community and stakeholder roles. She is currently a Stakeholder Engagement Consultant at CJ Associates, with previous roles at Moat Homes and Axis Europe. She prides herself on building and maintaining strong relationships with all types of people from residents, business owners to Board members and Senior Councillors, and enjoys connecting with new people.
Eleanor is an experienced campaigner and community leader, she was Chair of the East Dulwich Estate Regeneration Project Team for five years, where she worked with residents and Southwark Council to plan and oversee new building work and refurbishment of estate landscaping, ensuring that residents’ views and interests were heard and acted upon. In this role, she helped fundraise and create a new community garden and organised community events. Eleanor is a future Church Grove Project resident and longstanding member of RUSS.
Samanthi grew up in Lewisham and is currently a researcher at the RSA (Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), leading work aimed at inserting community voices into decision-making about housing and neighbourhoods. She has experience in community engagement, network-building and amplifying community voices, with roles as a Community Engagement Advisor at Heard Storytelling and a Peer Researcher at Toynbee Hall. Her work at Toynbee Hall involved working with young private renters and the Renters Reform Coalition to lobby for safe, affordable and secure housing.
Katie Weatherall is a Programme Manager at the UK’s international cultural relations organisation British Council working on Arts programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa and a global radio project. With over 10 years arts and public sector experience she has extensive communications and fundraising experience. She is local to the area and has lived in Lewisham for many years and is passionate about community.