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Meet the Team

Our Trustees

The Board makes decisions about our strategic direction and is ultimately responsible for the management and conduct of the charity.

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Nicola joined Options for Life in October 2017, She comes with previous experience in Further Education and Business Support, Private Sector Schools and the NHS. Nicola has had several different roles over the years and has always worked with young people, adults and local communities. Nicola’s previous role was “Head of Operations” here at Options for Life. Nicola had overall responsibility for ensuring the effective management and delivery of the hubs by ensuring all business deliverables were completed to a consistently high standard, within budget, to agreed success criteria, and delivered the expected business benefits.

Nicola is a dedicated and passionate individual and will work hard towards creating positive changes for adults with learning disabilities and /or autism.

“By involving our participants in the development and delivery of our services we want to ensure we continually meet their needs but also exceed these. This will provide empowerment, personal development and opportunities in the local community and beyond”.

Nicola is excited by the opportunity to further grow and develop Options for Life into an innovative and responsive organisation providing excellent services.

Nicola Thomson

CEO

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Harriet was appointed as a trustee in 2012 and became a co-chair in 2018. Harriet spent almost 20 years working as a solicitor, with the last four of those as a partner in a legal firm. In 2009 she decided to change career and has built up a small portfolio of houses for private rental.

Harriet has a lot of voluntary sector experience, including Birmingham CHC, Birmingham West NCT and Birmingham Women’s Hospital. She has also undertaken clinical governance inspections of large NHS organisations and has provided lay support to Birmingham Children’s Hospital board with risk management.

Harriet Moat

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Currently Interim Financial Controller for Japan House London.

Since qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1989 Rosina has worked for an international quarrying & brick company, Lloyds TSB and most recently she was acting Chief Executive for a group of Trade Associations based in the Jewellery Quarter.

 

Rosina has experience as a non-executive director and has worked with various charities.

She is very much looking forward to joining the board to support the work of Options for Life and learning more about the work and the challenges, as well as the successes.

Rosina Singleton

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Alan used to work with people with a learning disability in a variety of roles before retirement. He joined the Board at its inception in 1988.

 

Alan used to work as a Lay Assessor alongside Birmingham Social Services Inspection unit, inspecting residential homes in the city.

Alan Daffern

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Debbie used to work for a local authority before retiring in 2003. Prior to that she trained as a teacher and spent five years working in the voluntary sector with people with learning disabilities.

 

Debbie joined the Board of Trustees in 1994 and became a Director in 2000.

Debbie White

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Cesar has held Director-level roles within multiple organisations in the professional body sector, such as ICAEW, CIPD, CIMA, and internationally with the AICPA. He started his career as a Publisher but more recently has led commercial product development/product management/learning consulting teams focused on continuing professional development products and services. 

 

Cesar is also currently an Advisory Board Member for two companies - one in the AI retail app space, and one in the leadership/management training space. He is very much looking forward to working with the Board and the Options for Life teams, supporting them and adding value wherever possible.

Cesar Alvarez

Our Senior Leadership Team

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Lesley joined Options for life in 2017.  She has worked in the voluntary sector for over 25 years.  Lesley previously worked in community development supporting local charities and community groups to develop, grow and sustain their activities.

Lesley wants to ensure that the high quality service delivered at Options for Life not only continues but grows and develops with the input from participants, staff and volunteers.  Lesley is our CQC Nominated Individual.

Lesley Shorthouse

Head of Operations

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David oversees the financial control of the organisation and will let our trustees and managers know current and projected levels of expenditure and income and the level of our bank balances.

 

David is relatively new to Options For Life, he joined in August 2019 but he has been an accountant for over 30 years largely with local councils. He likes to stay active and enjoys running and cycling and attending music concerts.

David Smith

Head of Finance

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Clare is a Support Team Manager and currently works at Oak Green Lodge and Woman Zone. Clare started working at Options for Life in 2012. Clare really enjoys the variety of her job as with so many participants no two days are the same.

 

Clare champions Positive Behaviour Support coaching and is passionate about sharing her skills with other managers and staff . In her spare time Clare enjoys musical theatre and all things Italian, so far she has been lucky enough to visit Florence, Rome and Venice. However, she says that it would take too long to list all the musicals she has been to see as it must be well over 50.

Clare Hudson

Support Team Manager,

Oak Green Lodge

Simon is our Finance Officer and joined Options for Life in October 2000. His previous experience was in the retail sector managing a large team covering the Midlands.

 

Options for Life gave Simon a total career change and he has never looked back. Simons tasks include sending customer invoices, paying supplier bills and most importantly staff wages.

 

Away from work Simon enjoys walking in the countryside and wants to explore all parts of Britain with his wife and children.

Simon Williams

Finance Officer

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Vicky joined Options for Life in 2012 after having spent 19 years with a local authority (Sandwell Council).

During this time she has remained part of the reception team in addition to providing administrative support firstly to Oak Green Services and more recently the Facilities and Maintenance team.

Facilities and Maintenance is a completely different role for Vicky, she enjoys the variety of work involved and is finding that she’s learning new tasks every day!

Outside of work Vicky enjoys shopping, meeting up with friends and is currently deciding on where to book a City break.

Vicky Collins

Facilities and Maintenance Admin Assistant/Receptionist

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Jeorgia works as the HR admin assistant, she really enjoys working at Options for Life and started here in 2017.

 

She also works on reception where she enjoys greeting participants, parents/ carers, and visitors. Jeorgia loves shopping, going to concerts and planning her next holiday in the sun!

Jeorgia Nasser

Human Resource Admin Assistant/Receptionist

Mandy is the Support Team Manager at Acorn Lodge, which is for participants with PMLD - complex needs (Profound and Multiple Learning disabilities).  Mandy has worked at Options for Life since 1997 and during that time has worked at every hub.

 

Mandy returned to Acorn Lodge in December 2017, the hub has changed considerably in that time with the introduction of the new “Zone” which offers a range of sensory experiences for participants.

 

Mandy loves nothing more than to go out for meals and has a strong passion for football (mentioning no teams). Mandy fostered a young boy and later adopted him, Mandy’s son Wayne is fun, loving and autistic, which makes him the fantastic man he has now become. 

Mandy Critch

Support Team Manager,

Acorn Lodge

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I’m the Deputy Team Support Manager at Acorn Lodge, working with participants with PMLD. I joined Options for Life in 2008 as a support worker. I love my job and I’m passionate about making sure the participants have a fun-filled day, by working on the schedules to make sure we are catering for participant's individual needs. My time here has been so awarding knowing I’m making a difference to our participants' life and seeing how happy it makes them. In my spare time, I like spending time with my family and friends and going on holiday.

Rebecca Clark

Deputy Team Support Manager

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I previously worked in the Further education in London working closely with students from foundation, learning support and ESOL. I would describe myself as being ambitious and empathetic.  I’m passionate about my work because I love what I do. I have a steady source of motivation that drives me to do my best. In my spare time, I enjoy doing meditation, cooking vegan and vegetarian foods and watching Korean films.

Baljit Nahal

Senior Admin Officer

Head Office

Central Management Team

Middle Management Team

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Louise is the Support Team Manager for the Ashes. Louise joined Options for Life in January 2014 as a support Worker and has moved up to Assistant Team Manager and then subsequently to Support Team Manager.

 

Louise loves her job and is passionate about making sure the participants have a fun and interesting schedule based on their individual interests. Louise enjoys going to the theatre and is an avid animal lover.

Louise Elliot

Support Team Manager,

The Ashes & Ocker Hill

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Nassa works as our maintenance person. He started working at Options for Life in June 2020. You will find him working at one of our four hubs, either painting, decorating, plumbing or working on the general upkeep of the buildings.

 

Nassa has 25+ years’ experience carrying out maintenance work and repairs and has worked for a number of other large organisations. He enjoys a good cup of coffee, going on sunny holidays and a trip to Screwfix!

Rashid Nasser

Maintenance Person

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I joined Options for Life as a part time evening receptionist almost 14 years ago, December 2009. I had always worked in admin prior to my role at OFL. In 2011, I was approached about doing some Support Work, which I said yes to and never regretted taking on this new role.

In 2012 I made the decision and left Reception and became a full time Support Worker and continued in that role until January 2023.

In January 2023 I moved back into Admin as Service Delivery Admin Support.

I have enjoyed all of my roles within OFL and feel that it has been a privilege to work with such a good Staff Team.

My role as a Support Worker was very fulfilling and I am so glad I had the opportunity to work closely with the participants.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family (especially my 3 grandchildren) and friends.

I enjoy weekends away with my husband. I love to read and I enjoy good food and wine.

Jill Green

Service Delivery Admin

Support

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Maruf is the Fundraising and Communications Officer at OFL and joined the team in April 2021. He has vast fundraising experience, and now he wants to leverage his skills to fundraise for OFL participants.

 

He is also involved with the marketing strategies of OFL. In addition, Maruf loves to visit places with his family to explore the natural beauty of the United Kingdom. He likes to read books, listen to music and watch movies.

Maruf Ahmed

Fundraising and Communications Officer

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Amrit was appointed as Vice Chair to the Board in 2022. Having grown up in Sandwell, Amrit is passionate to support local charities thrive within the community.  Amrit has over 15 years’ experience in Further Education providing services to Young People and Adults with learning difficulties.  

 

In 2017, Amrit was nominated as Staff Governor at Burton & South Derbyshire College and is currently active as a Director of Curriculum. He works with local Health & Social Care agencies to increase the awareness of both physical and mental disabilities to positively influence attitudes towards disability inclusivity. More recently, he is involved in delivering the National Disability Strategy, enabling young people with special education needs or disability to sustained employment.   

 

In addition, Amrit also manages a family-owned commercial & residential property business in Sandwell. He leads on providing emergency social housing to members of the community in need, collaborating with agencies such as the local authority, housing charities & probation service.  

Amrit Virk

Vice Chair (Interim Chair)

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