Steering Group

The Steering Group
Our Bio

The Swindon Social Enterprise Network is a voluntary community initiative and its current steering group membership possesses a wide range of experience and skills with one common denominator: A strong belief that the growth of social enterprises within Swindon will bring many benefits to the community including employment opportunities for those who may struggle to find a job elsewhere. We are always keen to hear from people who share the passion of the steering group members who believe that their experience and skills would bring value to the team. So if that’s you get in touch! 

Sadie Sharp - Managing Director, The Platform Project

Sadie became self-employed at 24 by launching her own management consultancy. Since then she has started 5 companies, coached CEO’s, trained over 10,000 managers, spoken in front of audiences of 800+ people, and done stand-up comedy!

Her specialism is organisational design and transformation which she uses to help large and small organisations across the world improve the way they operate. She continues to hold a number of non-executive director and board advisory roles helping improve the sustainability of organisations.

Throughout her self-employed career Sadie has donated 25% of her time free of charge to organisations in the not-for-profit sector, helping them access the skills and support that the commercial sector benefits from.

2 years ago she decided that life was too short to live out of a suitcase, so she semi-retired from consulting to launch her own social enterprise: The Platform Project, which works with young people from a range of backgrounds to help them learn how to work for themselves and run a business.

The Platform Project logo

Marilyn Fitzgerald - Production Director, Create Studios

Marilyn loves the arts and enabling young people to progress and is delighted to be co-director at Create Studios as she gets to enjoy both things on a daily basis.

She has worked for Create “forever and a day” and is a natural multi-tasker: Once buying a car whilst at the photocopier. She likes to write, mostly comedy, and used to run her own comedy club in Swindon.

Create Studios are a social enterprise so it was an easy decision for Marilyn to make to become a member of the SSEN steering group.

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Andrew Hill – Social Inclusion & Enterprise Manager, Swindon Borough Council

Andrew has had a wide and varied business management career having worked in the pharmaceutical and IT industries, ran his own company, been a commercial photographer and before his current position was the Swindon Foodbank Project Manager. He has previously started a judo club, been a secondary school governor, ran an action group for better school’s provision and is a co-opted director of the Wiltshire & Swindon Credit Union and Swindon Food Collective.

Andrew has been with Swindon Borough Council since Easter 2016 with the responsibility for the borough’s financial inclusion policy and latterly has been tasked to assist the SSEN.

Andrew has lived in Swindon since 1989 and raised two children here along with his wife.

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Richard Hill – CEO, Voluntary Action Swindon

Having previously worked in banking, marketing and in a senior management role at a global financial services company, Richard is now the CEO of Voluntary Action Swindon (VAS). VAS is the umbrella organisation for the Voluntary and Community sector in Swindon. It provides the sector with infrastructure support, helping it to grow and develop both in terms of capacity and capability. He is also a charity trustee.

Born and raised in Swindon, he is married with two children and lives in Old Town.

Richard joined the steering group as he believes that social enterprises have great potential to address needs in the community at a time of tightened public funding. He is keen to support the development of enterprises that deliver social benefit in a way which is self-sustaining and which can be very fulfilling for those involved.

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Josh Roper – Partnership Manager, Greenwich Leisure Ltd, Swindon

Josh Roper is responsible for the management, facilities and implementation of GLL’s/Swindon Borough Council’s leisure, health, business and sports strategies.

GLL operate 7 facilities in Swindon. Nationally GLL (BETTER) manage more than 250 public sport and leisure centres, 57 libraries in partnership with more than 30 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations.

GLL are a charitable social enterprise, working for the benefit of everyone: The public, the environment, their staff and partners. GLL were the first leisure operator in the UK to be awarded both the Social Enterprise Mark and the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.

GLL has invested over £3million improving facilities in Swindon and has supported over 100 local athletes through the Greenwich Sports Foundation.

GLL launched the GLL Community Foundation in 2017 which has delivered many projects around the UK. Projects have included a sports tournament, improving a community library, creating a new sports league and revamping a children’s playground.

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Jon Joyce - Local Director, Metro Bank, Swindon

After almost 20 years in Banking I was delighted to launch the Swindon Store for Metro Bank in December 2017, bringing 362 day a year, 7 day a week banking convenience to Business and Personal customers in Wiltshire for the first time.

I have worked in Swindon and lived in Wiltshire for over 10 years and have always admired the passion that the people of Swindon have for seeing our area prosper. With that in mind I joined SSEN as I felt it was my opportunity to give something back to the community that welcomed me all that time ago and has given me so much since.

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Liz Osborne – Service Manager, Salvation Army, Booth House, Swindon

Liz has been working with The Salvation Army since 2007, and has been responsible for setting up both of the Salvation Army’s Social Enterprises; The Sandwich People and Recycles within a homeless resettlement service: Booth House.

Previously Liz was involved in recruitment, training, research and sales working in public and private sector organisations.

Recycles and The Sandwich People has been developed using the skills, experience and ideas of the team of volunteers who are experiencing homelessness. Liz has seen first-hand the difference that being involved in social enterprise can make: The team grow in confidence, develop skills and contribute to the local economy. That is why Liz is delighted to be able to support the Swindon Social Enterprise Network.

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James Phipps – Executive Chairman, Excalibur Communications, Swindon

James is an entrepreneur, born on a council estate in Swindon, with business interests ranging from IT, communications, software to media and even a brewery!

He was Wiltshire Business Person of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and now mentors businesses and other entrepreneurs. He has been a Governor for the White Horse Federation, sat on the SWLEP board and was nominated for Philanthropist of the Year at the recent Wiltshire Life Awards after co-founding a charitable foundation for young people in Wiltshire and Kenya in 2016.

He is actively involved in various community groups and charities, including patron for Swindon 105.5 and being an ambassador for Jessie May Children’s Hospice. He is married with two young daughters, supports Swindon Town FC and travels around the world watching various sports as his “main hobby.”

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Andrew Wells - Initiative Manager, Business West, Swindon

After leaving school I worked for Nationwide Building Society before, in my mid-twenties, studying for a Masters Degree in Human Geography.

Post University I spent a couple of years at the Economic and Social Research Council working on projects in health and human behaviour including The Dementia Initiative.

I joined Swindon Borough Council and started up and coordinated the Enterprise Adviser Network: A project that built relationships between schools and businesses helping to boost student’s careers aspirations and awareness. Also for several years I have been involved with the delivery of the Swindon Jobfest which is the largest careers event in the region.

Currently at Business West I manage the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative. I work to bring businesses of all sizes and marketplaces together stimulating collaboration. In doing so I encounter Social Enterprises and believe that they are a great way to run a business. Being involved with the Swindon Social Enterprise Network is a fantastic opportunity for me to help new and existing Social Enterprises to grow and expand.

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