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Our Team

Who We Are

Meet the people who make up the UFA team…


CEO

Paul Evans

About Me

I joined UFA from a role as Director at Street League, the UK’s leading Sport for Employability Charity, joining when the charity was in three cities in 2012 and expanding to fourteen in 2016. I have also worked in youth services, homelessness and mental health services, as well as corporate roles in the private sector. I am proud to be Chair of Trustees at an award winning sexual assault and abuse charity, ISAS, based in Nottinghamshire. Outside of work I am a keen guitarist and drummer and enjoy writing music. I have a First Class Honours Degree in Business & Management and a diploma in Psychotherapy. In 2009 I was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

You can connect with me on LinkedIn here and Twitter here.

My role at UFA

As CEO, my role is focused on working with trustees and colleagues to set the strategic direction for UFA, ensuring that the work we do has the maximum possible impact and that we capture and measure that impact. I love the continuous challenge of running the organisation with the heart of a charity and the mind of a business.

Leading an organisation is a privilege and I am fortunate to learn something from everyone I work with.

What’s the best thing about what you do?

We see a young person in terms of what they can become, not where they are now. The potential that all people have has always excited me. I have been fortunate to work with organisations like UFA who help unlock that potential and empower people to achieve great things. When you work with UFA as a young person or practitioner, you will finish at a completely different place to where you started, and that’s exciting.

National Manager - National Team

Dawn Gilderoy

About me
I’ve been involved with UFA since 2002, initially at local authority and subsequently at a national level. I developed and implemented multi-agency working across a Local Authority area ensuring barriers to fulfilling potential for children, young people and families were removed. I have influenced national strategy through work with the DfE and Child Poverty Unit.
I like to run (fast walking in reality), watching sport, mainly tennis and football. I am an avid Sunderland fan.

My role at UFA

National Development Manager

What’s the best thing about what you do?
I love developing new ways of working with young people and adults so that they experience exciting learning that makes a real difference to them. It is a joy to work for an organisation which is so committed to giving young people real leadership opportunities.

NCS Call Center Manager - Office Team

Jade Durrant

About me
I have worked for the UFA for five years and have focused on NCS in the last 12 months. Outside of work I enjoy going to the gym and other physical activities (as I do have a wedding to prepare for) and I enjoy going out for meals to high end restaurants, when my budget allows.
My role at UFA
I work with the NCS teams to support all our programmes and I love being able to communicate with all the areas in one way or another to help and support in whatever they need.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
Being able to use my attention to detail to spot differences a mile off and make sure we stay consistently on brand.

National Manager - National Team

Lula Garner

About me
After completing a psychology degree I led home-educating groups at local, regional and national level when home-educating my two daughters through primary education.
I was a National Co-ordinator for an attachment parenting support network.
My role as Out of School Hours Learning Development Officer for Derbyshire Local Authority included training as a UFA Fellow, which immediately led onto being one of the LA’s Lead UFA Trainers as well as collaborating to develop the UFA Partnership across the authority.
I love to garden and grow lots of flowers, fruit and veg. I’m a great crocheter and knitter and I practice daily yoga and meditation and am a trained Dru Yoga teacher. I love to dance.
My role at UFA
My role is to develop demand for our work and support clients from initial contact through to consultancy/critical friending to delivery and evaluation. I’ve project managed some larger grants which gave me the chance to follow young people through a longer journey of personal and leadership development which I absolutely relish because I get to see them transform and grow into people who know who they are and believe in themselves.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
My favourite part of the job – whether it be developing young people or adults – is seeing the transformation in self-belief and skillset for learning, for work and for life. I also love working with parents especially those who are under-confident in themselves and their educational and parenting experience

Director of Learning - National Team

Manjit Shellis

About Me
I spent more than a decade working in secondary schools in Birmingham, as both a pastoral and English department head, I was eager to explore more exciting ways of positively influencing the lives of young people so I joined the UFA in 1999. I am a bit geeky about learning and even my reading for pleasure can be about the subject but my first loves were always science, art, art history and poetry (especially T.S. Elliot). I enjoy messing about with photoshop and I love bright colours, finding cool new fonts, TED.com, metaphors and food!
In my spare time I bring up four lovely children who keep me grounded, try to control three mad dogs that have taught me all about calm assertive leadership; I sit on three school governing bodies (primary & secondary) and occasionally spend a bit of time with my better half, just chilling!

My role at UFA
As a Director of Learning with the UFA, I am lucky enough to bring together my curiosity about how we learn, my passion for finding inspiring ways to engage and motivate people and my lifelong ambition to help to transform the experience of learning and schooling that young people have.
In practice this has meant drawing on thinking and ‘rethinking thinking’ from educational theory, neuroscience, psychology and sociology to create innovative learning experiences for young people, their parents and the adults that support them.

What’s the best part of your job?
As a mum of four and in my job, every day I am reminded of the capacity of children and young people to achieve more than we think possible, perhaps even more than they think possible and certainly how much we adults can learn from them.

Head of NCS - Office Team

Richard Shaw

About me
My background is managing employment projects for private and public bodies. I worked for Birmingham City Council for nearly ten years running projects to help unemployed people gain sustainable employment.
Beyond spending time with family and playing taxi driver to my two daughters, outside of work I play football and tennis regularly and enjoy going to the gym.
My role at UFA
I’m responsible for the delivery of the NCS contracts for UFA nationally. I manage our area teams and our central resources to ensure that the programmes that we deliver are high quality, efficient and most importantly deliver the outcomes that ensure Young People enjoy and gain from them.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
I enjoy seeing how all of the component parts of NCS come together – from seeing young people being recruited to booking the venues. From interviewing our staff to speaking with local organisations to see how our graduates can support them. I love seeing young people come out of NCS enthused and engaged as this means we’ve got all the work behind the scenes right!

Accountant

Vaani Nirantharakumar

About Me
My career in accounting started off at PricewaterhouseCoopers after qualifying as a Management Accountant in 2001. Since then I have worked in a number of organisations before I had a career break to bring up my family for 5 years. On returning to work I started working in small and medium sized companies before joining UFA in 2013. The initial year at UFA has been a steep learning curve but I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges posed. Outside work, most of my time is taken up by my two boys. When there is spare time I like to read, try out new recipes and sew.
My Role at UFA
My role in UFA involves managing the cash flow, producing monthly management accounts, budgets and making sure we pay our bills and we get paid!
What’s the best part of your job?
I enjoy preparing and working through the management accounts, budgets and designing spreadsheets to produce information to get a better understanding of where we stand.

 

HR co-ordinator

Ravinder Bilkhu

About Me
I worked in third party pensions administration as a PMI qualified senior pensions administrator for 15 years before making a complete career change and joining UFA in March 2014 as an administrator and moved to a HR administrator role in November 2014. Outside of work I enjoy reading and listening to music.
My role at UFA
To provide efficient HR administration support to the UFA and our NCS contracts, maintaining a high level of confidentiality and accuracy.
What’s the best part of the job?
It is satisfying to see a whole recruitment process from advertising to employment for permanent staff in the central office or regional offices. And I enjoy recruiting NCS temporary staff for our programmes which empower young people to make a difference.

UFA Administrator

Alex Stoenciu

About Me
I grew up on the (sometimes) sunny shores of the Romanian coastline and came to the UK in 2008 for my university studies. I’ve completed an undergraduate course in International Relations and Politics at Coventry University, and am currently doing my MA in Politics and Research Methods at the University of Birmingham. Although all my spare time is currently dedicated to the last length of my studies, there’s nothing I like more than a good story (be it a book, film or just a nice chat) to occupy my time. My very first volunteering role with the UFA was in August 2010 on one of their Summer Challenges. Three years later, I was excited to receive a position with Top Tutors which grew and paved the way to my current role as the UFA administrator.
My role at UFA
I interact with all the departments such as Top Tutors and NCS. It’s a varied role, with a very long list of attributes that span from ordering stationary to preparing training evaluation reports and tracking the progress of young people on different programmes.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
The best thing about what I do is the great comments the young people write down in the post training evaluations. The confidence, optimism and determination they show at the end of it all truly makes the job worth it.

Marketing Officer - Office Team

Nicola Cox

About me

Having previously worked for a financial recruitment consultancy as a Marketing Assistant/Administrator, I joined UFA looking for a role in which I could not only continue learning and growing, but hope to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

My role at UFA

I’m the Marketing Officer for UFA supporting UFA, NCS and our subsidiary company Top Tutors. The role is varied and no two days are same – but that’s just how I like it!

What’s the best thing about what you do?

The best part has to be getting out and seeing the UFA programmes in action. I love seeing the impact our programmes have and hearing the amazing stories straight from the young people we work with.

NCS Administrator - Office Team

Grace Miller

About me

Almost 10 years ago I signed up as a delegate on a UFA Summer scheme, which is where my journey began. I met Jan who encouraged me to get involved and apply to become a Peer Tutor the following year.  I quickly realised that I wanted to be a part of an organisation that inspired young people like myself to be creative, enjoy learning and better themselves…so I kept coming back!

I have worked in quite a few roles for UFA over the years, during the Summer of 2015 I was a Team assistant on our UFA NCS programme, which was an amazing experience…despite the late nights and early mornings, I would gladly get involved again this year!!

Role at UFA

In December 2015, I graduated from Newman University…finally!! I also became the new NCS Administrator, it is great to officially be a part of such a supportive team.

What’s the best thing about what you do?

I love that NCS enables young people to realise their own potential, encourages them to create their own opportunities and meet others from different backgrounds. It’s great to be apart of making this happen!

NCS National Sales Manager - Office Team

Mark Higgins

About me

At university, whilst studying Website Development, I was lucky enough to take a sabbatical year to be the President of my Students’ Union. Upon graduating I wanted to work in the 3rd sector and came across NCS. Although this is my first year at UFA I have been working within NCS for 5 years.

Outside of work I enjoy playing rugby and watching films.

My Role at UFA

I’m responsible for the recruitment of young people to take part in our NCS programmes Nationally. I manage our NCS Recruitment teams and Contact centre to ensure that we achieve high volumes of young people going onto our NCS programme.

What do you love most about what you do?

I enjoy being part of the team recruiting young people knowing the impact the programme can have on them, I have seen this first hand in the past and found it truly astonishing. I also enjoy the variety of work I get to undertake with each day bringing a new challenge.

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