Communities that Work has announced the appointment of Suzanne Jobson, Foundations for Life manager at Karbon Homes, and Charmaine Simei, director of Community Investment at Longhurst Group, to the board of directors.
Charmaine has over 25 years of experience in the housing sector and is keen to support and promote the significant contribution that Communities that Work members make to the economic recovery of its shared communities in light of COVID.
Communities that Work says Charmaine brings a clear, strong passion for social justice and social mobility to its board, as well as extensive regional sector links.
Alongside her role as director of Community Investment at Longhurst, Charmaine holds the chair for the Centre of Excellence Community Investment East of England network and co-chairs HACT’s Racial Equality Group, having been a mentor for the Housing Diversity network for many years.
Commenting on her appointment, Charmaine said: “I’m delighted to be joining the board of Communities that Work at such a pivotal moment.
“Social mobility and the transformative power of meaningful employment has always been a driving force for me, throughout my career.
“Whilst we all hope that we will soon see the pandemic coming under control, and some semblance of normality returning, COVID’s devastating impact on communities and the economy is something we need to address now, for the future.
“The housing sector is uniquely placed to build on its strong foundations of employment support, delivered locally to our communities.
“Collectively, we can provide a significant boost to the country’s economic recovery through collaboration, focused effort, and partnerships.”
Kate Shone, chair of the board, said: “Charmaine is going to be a great asset to the board and the members of Communities that Work, in this crucial year for us and for the entire social housing sector.
“Charmaine joins a board that is determined to see economic opportunity driven towards our whole communities, and I know her passion and clear-headed determination will stand her in incredibly good stead to do this, through Communities that Work.”
Meanwhile, Suzanne has worked in the social housing sector for over 11 years, specifically across the financial and digital inclusion and employability agenda.
Suzanne manages the employment, skills, and digital support team at Karbon Homes, whose footprint covers the north east of England and Yorkshire with almost 30,000 homes serving diverse communities, all facing different opportunities and challenges.
Suzanne says she is passionate about building and fulfilling aspirations and breaking down barriers to success, and believes social housing is an anchor sector for this agenda.
Suzanne is also a board member of the Women in Social Housing North East group, and Karbon is a key partner on the newly established NE Employment Collaboration group.
Suzanne sees Communities that Work as a driving force to promote and strengthen the key role that the social housing sector plays in the employability agenda and is keen to bring the North East voice to this important conversation.
Commenting on her appointment, Suzanne said: “I am absolutely delighted to be joining the Communities that Work board at this crucial juncture.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic impact on employment rates: the north east is a region with one of the highest unemployment and claimant rates in the UK, and Brexit has plunged the sector into a social funding crisis.
“Social housing tenants were already at a disadvantage due to multiple social and skills barriers, and this has been further exacerbated.
“Never have people needed employability support more. Housing associations have a long history in delivering on the employment and skills agenda, yet I fear so much goes under the radar of decision makers.
“Communities that Work has been inordinately successful in bringing the impact of the sector to the government’s attention, showcasing the invaluable role that housing associations play.
“Employment and skills are a route out of poverty, towards economic recovery, and I am delighted to be part of an organisation whose mission and aims are to champion that cause.”
Julie Haywood, vice-chair of the board said: “Suzanne is a really welcome addition the board. Suzanne is bringing solid, impactful and current experience of her team’s direct employment support delivery to our board of directors, along with a strong and broad NE regional network and focus.
“We welcome the NE regional voice on our board, and we’re excited to work with Suzanne. She joins a board that is determined to see social and economic opportunity driven forward, for all communities, across the country.”
Main image: (L-R) Charmaine Simei and Suzanne Jobson
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