Meet the Team
Kate is MD of Blue Sky and a big believer in social enterprise – businesses bringing solutions to social problems.
She previously worked at the social enterprise support organisation CAN from 2005 – 2014. As Deputy Chief Executive, she looked after Policy, Research and Communications, including leading on CAN’s strategic partnership with the Cabinet Office to support the growth of social enterprise. More latterly, she launched and established CAN Invest, CAN’s social investment arm, managing and raising funds for social enterprises and helping them, corporates and other funds measure their social impact.
Before CAN, Kate was an Executive Director of The Big Life Group in Manchester, a group of social enterprises and charities tackling disadvantage and social exclusion. There she was also Editor of The Big Issue in the North magazine for many years. During this time, the magazine campaigned heavily to give homeless people a voice and better rights, including changing legislation to give homeless people the right to vote and to open bank accounts.
More recently Kate has worked with Social Enterprise UK the trade body for social enterprise, and also with the innovation charity Nesta and the charitable foundation Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to launch the UK’s first social investment fund providing loan financing to arts organisations.
Earlier in her career Kate was a journalist with the media corporations Trinity Mirror Plc and Thomson Reuters, for the latter in South America.
Kate has been a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) since 2008. She is also a board member of VoiceAbility, the national advocacy charity, and a member of the Advisory Council of Big Society Capital, the wholesale social investment bank.
John joined Blue Sky in 2010 as Commercial Director with more than 20 years’ experience in the horticultural, waste and recycling industries. This has included the management of private sector collection and disposal contracts for multiple London boroughs, and leading grounds maintenance contracts. As well as a range of vocational, managerial, H&S and other qualifications, John holds the Kew Diploma in Horticulture (Hons) and was awarded an MBA in 2008.
Geetha joined Blue Sky from Groundwork Thames Valley in 2010. She studied Accountancy in Sri Lanka and then sat her finals in London, she has been ACMA qualified since 1984. Her previous experience has been in the private sector working in manufacturing, courier and motor retail companies.
Blue Sky’s Teams Director, Steve Finn, has been employed with the company from Day One. Previously he worked as the New Deal works supervisor for Groundwork Thames Valley and has a wealth of experience in the grounds maintenance sector.
Steve worked for the Royal Parks for ten years, gaining invaluable industry knowledge and experience. He also worked in the kitchens at HMP Wandsworth managing the special diets division.
Steve manages all of our operatives and ensures that contracts are delivered to the highest quality standards.
Carwyn joined Blue Sky in 2014 as Head of Fundraising. He has since taken on a wider role as Blue Sky’s Development Director and his areas of responsibility now include Blue Sky Inside, income from Government Programmes (such as Transforming Rehabilitation), communications, as well as fundraising.
Carwyn was previously a partner at leading social research organisation Lemos&Crane and was instrumental in developing ground-breaking initiatives in the field of criminal justice including PrisonerActionNet and The Good Prison Award. He is a Philosophy graduate from Warwick University and a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Having started in a grounds maintenance team upon release from prison in March 2010 he was promoted to supervisor after just one month. When the Operations Assistant role in the office became vacant he applied and secured the job because it was evident he was ambitious and hard working.
Now the Teams Co-ordinator he liaises with the team supervisors to iron out any team issues involving probation, court, holidays or personal issues. He is also the first port of call for any new recruits where he outlines the health and safety procedures, contracts and finances and explains what is expected of the employee.
Minta joined Blue Sky in June 2013 as HR Support Administrator. She has many years of customer service and administration experience in various industries including Retail, Catering, Property, Distribution and Social Research.
Now, having qualified in November 2015 for the Level 5 CIPD Intermediate Diploma in HR Management, as Blue Sky’s HR Manager Minta is responsible for Blue Sky’s HR Administration and is the first point of contact for inquiries. She works closely with the Operations team providing HR Support, assisting with recruitment and also managing our employee database on a daily basis.
Mercy joined Blue Sky in May 2010 as the Finance Assistant. She has many years of finance experience in various industries including Travel, Fashion, Television & Communications and Leisure. Mercy is responsible for Blue Sky’s payroll, sales and purchase ledgers and works closely with Geetha on all other financial duties.
HR & Payroll Admin Assistant
HR & Payroll Admin Assistant
Caroline joined Blue Sky in January 2015 as the HR & Payroll Admin Assistant. Her time is split between offering support to the HR Officer and the Finance team undertaking various administrative duties. Tasks include processing the weekly payroll, accurately maintaining Blue Sky’s databases and completing HR correspondence as required.
Previous jobs have included being a clerical assistant for a medical laboratory in London, a children’s play leader and a party organiser.
Allison manages the development and delivery of Blue Sky’s training programme in prison and in the community. She previously managed Blue Sky’s prison industries, including the Stitch in Time textiles workshop at HMP/YOI Bronzefield where she employed and supported over 160 women prisoners producing high quality products for a top fashion designer. Allison was also responsible for implementing Level 2 qualifications in Fashion and Design for the women.
Before joining Blue Sky, Allison worked for Surrey Community Action as their Capacity Building Manager, managing a team working with the voluntary sector in Surrey on Business Advice, Funding Advice, Grants and Learning & Development.
In-work Support Officer
In-work Support Officer
Shirley has worked for Blue Sky since 2013. As In-work Support Officer, Shirley currently supports Blue Sky employees to help them sustain employment, assisting them to access training grants and housing/crisis loans.
Shirley also assists the HR department with recruitment and management of Blue Sky employees, and supports the administration and development of Blue Sky training contracts both in prison and in the community, ensuring learner and accreditation information is accurately and timely recorded, and ensuring the quality assurance of training.
Previously, Shirley worked at Blue Sky’s Stitch in Time workshop in HMP & YOI Bronzefield, supporting over 160 women prisoners to develop in confidence, skills and work ethic.
Meet the Patrons
Jonathan Aitken is an author, broadcaster and campaigner for prison reform. He is a former Cabinet Minister, Member of Parliament, and ex-prisoner. His wider activities include being a director of Prison Fellowship International, executive director of The Trinity Forum in Europe and Honorary President of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. In 2007 he was appointed Chairman of the Centre for Social Justice’s policy study group on Prison Reform.
Erwin James works to inform the debate on how our society uses imprisonment through his writing and speaking, as an ex-offender and journalist. James is a trustee of the Prison Reform Trust and of the Alternatives to Violence Project Britain. He is a patron of the charity CREATE, an organisation that promotes the arts and creative activities among marginalized groups.
Fiona Mactaggart MP
Fiona was elected MP for Slough in 1997 and has been re-elected at every subsequent election.
Fiona is currently a member of the Public Accounts Committee. She was the founder of the All-Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, and is joint secretary of the All-Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking.
During the 1997-2010 Labour Government, Fiona served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chris Smith and as a Home Office Minister between June 2003 and May 2006.
Fiona has served as a member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, the Children Schools and Families and Public Administration Select Committees. She was also Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.
John Bercow MP
“I agreed to become a Blue Sky Patron because…
In 2012 I was struck by Blue Sky’s work with ex-offenders after I held a ‘Friends of Blue Sky’ event at Speaker’s House and visited a team in Denham. Many of the ex-offenders whom Blue Sky employs are from my constituency and talking to them I was personally won over by their desire to turn their lives around and I wanted to be more involved.
Blue Sky approaches the issue of re-offending in a sensible and holistic way and their offer to ex-offenders is a winning combination of employment, training and housing support; the results speak volumes. However, it is Blue Sky’s ability to turn offenders into tax-paying members of society and the positive effect that has on the families and children who are taken out of living in a workless household that really compelled me to be a Patron.”
Mick founded Blue Sky in 2005 and was Chief Executive for 10 years until he stepped down in February 2015. He is pleased to remain involved with the charity as a Patron and will also be pursuing other charitable activities.
Mick came to the voluntary sector in 2003, when he joined the community-based regeneration charity Groundwork Thames Valley. This followed 20 years in the financial services industry, culminating in board-level positions in both the banking and asset management sectors. During this time he was a founding member of two successful start-up businesses, Dustfield Properties and New Boathouse Capital. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Big Society Capital.
Meet the Trustees
In addition to being Chairman of RAPt, David became Blue Sky’s Chairman when the merger between the two charities was finalised in October 2014.
David has worked in the civil service, as a lawyer and is now on the boards of a small food importing company and a private investment company, both based in London. He sits on the boards of three other voluntary organisations, and of two grant-giving foundations. He is interested not only in penal affairs, but also alcohol and drug addiction more widely, human rights and refugee issues.
Merlin has spent over 15 years in various sectors including local government, the non-profit sector, and the travel, property and auditing industries. Her professional and commercial experience includes management and financial accountancy.
Her qualifications include a BA (Hons) in accounting and finance, a diploma in business and finance, AAT (Intermediate) and ACCA (Professional). She is a member of the Charity Finance Directors Group.
Currently the Director of Finance and Operations at RAPt Merlin joined the Blue Sky Board when the two charities merged in October 2014.
After an early career making training films for the UK Armed forces, Buzz worked for IMG (a sports marketing company) for thirty years, rising to being The Senior International Vice President. He was responsible to the Chairman for the commercial relationship for, amongst others, The All England Club (Wimbledon) and The R&A for The Open Championship.
He retired progressively some five years ago, and became involved in the Criminal Justice System – beginning with Blue Sky Inside and more recently Blue Sky as a Trustee. He is a founding member of the Friends of Wandsworth Prison (now merged with Trailblazers). As a mentor he is currently supporting two mentees (both now in the community) on the rocky road to not re-offending.
Ben is a former army officer and senior executive in the financial services sector. He was Chairman of Disability Sport England for five years. His other current commitments include Treasurer of Missing People, Investment Trustee of Haig Homes and Chairman of a Board of School Governors.
Currently a Trustee of RAPt Ben joined the Blue Sky Board when the two charities merged in October 2014.
David has a long and distinguished record in the Waste management industry. He is a member of the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group. He was also Executive Chairman and Chief Executive of Cory Environmental Holdings, which manages long term contracts for the landfill disposal of Local Authority waste and operates landfill sites, transfer stations and a tug and barge fleet on the River Thames.
David has been a member of Defra Waste Implementation Programme Steering Committee and Chairman of the Data Advisory Pane. He has also served as a trustee for the Cory Environmental Trust in Thurrock and the Huron University USA in London. David is a Freeman of the City of London and is a lifetime member of the Environmental Services Association.
Ron Sheldon was Blue Sky’s Chair between May 2010 and October 2014, having been a Board member since April 2009. Ron is a Managing Director of Advent International, an international private equity firm specialising in leveraged buy outs. Advent International has raised funds with committed capital in excess of $20 billion over the last 25 years and operates in various locations around the world. Ron has over 30 years’ private equity experience, and has worked for Advent International for the past 15 years.
Previously he co-founded Trinity Venture Partners, a venture capital advisory firm and had various investment roles at 3i over a ten year period.
He has recently been offered the Chairman’s role of Big Issue Invest’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund, a new fund to provide long term capital to social enterprises in the UK.
Following a period of 12 years working on and managing projects that provided treatment to the homeless, drug users and offenders, Mike held the post of Deputy UK Anti-Drug Co-ordinator from 1997 until 2001. His duties included the creation of the UK’s first National Drug Strategy and the oversight of its initial implementation.
From 2000 to 2003, he was the chair of the European Union drugs agency, the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Here he steered a three-year work plan which involved the collation and dissemination of research and analysis on drug use, problems and responses across Europe.
During 2001 to 2002, Mike also held the post of director of performance at the National Treatment Agency, set up by the UK government to oversee the rapid expansion of the drug treatment sector. In November 2002, he left to work for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna.
Leaving his United Nations post in early 2003, Mike returned to the UK, and the non-governmental sector. After a year as chief executive of The Blenheim Project, a provider of community treatment services in London, he took up his current post as chief executive of RAPt in 2004.
Mike continues to engage in policy issues as Co-ordinator of the International Drug Policy Forum, a global network of non-government organisations (NGOs) with an interest in the promotion of evidence-based drug policy.
As RAPt’s CEO Mike joined the Blue Sky Board when the charities merged in October 2014.
Andrew Wylie is the Head of Investment Funds at DLA Piper, a global law firm, and has been a partner in City law firms for over 10 years. Andrew has a Master of Arts degree from the University of Cambridge.
Andrew has given seminars at a number of leading international law schools and business schools about the global investment funds industry. In Europe, these include the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, London Business School and INSEAD. In the USA, these include Columbia Business School, Harvard Law School and Yale Law School.
Andrew is also a trustee of RAPt, a charity which aims to help people with drug and alcohol dependence, both in prison and in the community, to overcome addiction and lead positive lives.