Biographies

LivesthroughFriends is a coming together of innovative people and community focused associates who are concerned with the realisation of an inclusive society and kinder, more interdependent and gift centred communities. Associates include leaders in the PLAN movement, the Asset Based Community Development Institute, from the business development and leadership world, in Local Area Coordination, and experienced, reflective and proven practitioners and innovators in sustainable ‘ordinary living’ and co-production.

Bob Rhodes – Founder and President

In 1991 Bob founded TACT UK– building over 15 years a nation-wide organization that supported people with very challenging reputations to live in inclusive and contributing ways. He led its development until his semi-retirement (unrealized) in 2006. Along this journey he “woke up” to the limitations inherent in dependency upon professions and institutions and the need for services to integrate themselves within and contribute to the neighbourhoods in which they operate, ensuring that people enjoy reciprocal loving relationships and true belonging.

Bob strives to work at both the grassroots and strategic levels, in the UK and internationally, in respect of social inclusion and strengths-based social development and concurrently advises Governments and helps people with disabilities to self-direct; founds and grows organizations and helps people build personal relationship networks; researches and writes challenging social policy books and papers while crafting humorous or ironic verses about the absurdity of institutions and the professions to which he belongs; and assists people with very challenging reputations to refute their reputations and battle-worn professionals to rediscover both their empathy and their creativity.

Rob Fountain – Chief Operating Officer

Rob joined LivesthroughFriends as Chief Operating Officer in May 2022.  A social worker by training, Rob was previously CEO of Age UK Gloucestershire where he led a transformation of the charity away from traditional paid services to an innovative, community development focus.  His previous experience includes working with public sector teams looking to spin out into more responsive, person-centred services, running a training service for a disabled children’s charity, social work education and advocacy. 

Liz Leach Murphy – Training Director

Liz has worked alongside community groups, organisations, Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups to implement self-directed support and their transformational change programmes across the UK and with individuals and families to develop their plans for the future and to support the implementation of these plans to create real and positive long term change.

The people Liz has worked with in the past have said how she helped to open up their thinking to be able to see new possibilities and overcome resistance to change to achieve real and positive outcomes – whilst having fun along the way.

She is a strong believer in and supporter of a fair society, inclusion, self direction and positive solution based approaches.

Mark Scurfield – Finance Director

Mark has worked in the sector for over 15 years. Early in his career he was involved in the operation of care homes at the senior management level and was instrumental in the turn-around of two care homes, by designing and executing strategic plans that improved the Care Quality Commission ratings from poor to good. During this time, he was asked if he would complete due diligence for Lloyd’s bank under the guidance of the director of a large accountancy firm.

Mark founded and operated a domiciliary care company for over 7 years, which consistently attained high CQC ratings. With a rich knowledge of the care sector, he was approached for consultancy services, eventually selling to one of the companies he consulted for.

Mark is passionate about giving people with support needs good lives and has founded organisations that focus upon helping people achieve their goal of living ‘ordinary lives’. He has an excellent understanding of the issues and challenges faced by vulnerable adults as citizens, and is committed to ensuring peoples’ human rights are respected and promoted.

Chris Brown – Director and Company Secretary

 Chris is driven by the power and capabilities of communities and championing rights for everyone to achieve their ‘good life’. Whether he is directly leading change or supporting other changemakers, he believes that when people come together under a common cause they are more powerful than any service, system, or structure. Chris enjoys working with anyone that wants to create a more equitable society, from residents, community groups and local businesses, to commissioners, national funders and politicians.

• He has grown one of the most vibrant and progressive voluntary sector organisations in the country, with over 20 employees that are achieving amazing things with communities in the Gloucestershire.
• Fundraised over £20m to regenerate town centres and a further £8m for community based projects.
• Trained over 2,000 people in Safeguarding, Community Development, Volunteer Management and Charity Governance.
• Run community events, from co production events to help redesign services with people at the heart, to music festivals and charity fundraisers.
• Conducted and cited in national research into commissioning, voluntary and community sector infrastructure and inclusive education.

Amanda Topps – Director

Amanda is passionate about people, communities, equality, rights, dignity and provision of excellent universal, health, social care and housing for all, but particularly for the most marginalised people considered to be vulnerable by society. She believes people should be at the centre of co-designing creative, innovative support and services as equal partners and experts by experience.

Amanda has over 30 years experience in the social care sector, involved in the provision, design, improvement commissioning and evaluation of services. She is highly organised & excels at hosting & delivering inclusive engagement workshops, consultation and information events incorporating appreciative inquiry and other models of co-production.

Tim Keilty – Director

Tim has worked with people with a learning disability for 30 years, as a support worker in a village community, as a supporter to a People First group, an advocate, as a Person Centred Planning Co-ordinator, Consultant. As the years go by the job titles get more cumbersome, but the focus of his work remains the same! 

Tim is a qualified social worker, but puts more store in the fact that he was once described by Jack Pearpoint (admittedly in an off the cuff comment) as ‘a remarkably gifted leader’.  Tim is a fellow of the centre for welfare reform, has written books, articles and a writes a sporadic blog

Tales from Serviceland

Julie Boothroyd – Director

Julie is a highly motivated and committed professional with 40 years experience in people centred services. Working for Local Authorities in England and Wales, from frontline practice to senior executive leadership; ending her career as the Director of Social Care & Health in Monmouthshire.

Throughout her career she has provided inspirational leadership with a creative edge. Driven by a sense of integrity and fairness, that underpins sound judgement and decision making skills. She has developed a reputation as a ‘can do’ person with a common sense and down to earth approach. She values relationships and an ability to develop cultures that empower and motivate the workforce.

Throughout, Julie has always managed to remain grounded in doing what matters most for people. She is only interested in following endeavours that make a difference to people.

Julie is described by others as compassionate, inspiring, solution focussed and down to earth.

Martin Simon – Director

Martin Simon is a social innovator and neighbourhood organiser who is passionate about reciprocity and social justice. He set up the first Time Bank in the UK in 1998 and was the Chief Executive of Timebanking UK for many years. He has advised governments, local authorities and think tanks on the co-production of public services and on the benefits of an equally balanced ecosystem of mediums of exchange a mixed economy of money, sharing, swapping, bartering, gifting, neighbourliness and complementary currencies. He has worked on strengths-based community development in the UK, USA, India, Croatia and Spain and until recently was a Director at Nurture Development and Co-Director of ABCD Europe. He now works alongside social activists and social enterprises building new connections and enduring relationships that generate caring, learning and a shared sense of purpose

Joe Powell – Director

Joe Powell was appointed as the National Director (now Chief Executive) of All Wales People First in 2012 following a nationwide recruitment drive to appoint someone with lived experience of living in learning disability services to head the organisation. Prior to this he lived in autism specific care services for eleven years and made a lot of progress in his time there (originally being non-verbal for many years). In 2008 he was supported by a support broker (Bob Rhodes) of Livesthroughfriends to fight to leave a care system that was preventing him from progressing and embark upon an Individual Budget. Since then he has spoken across the UK about his experiences in care, his individual budget and the need to reform the care system. He now lives completely independently without any support. Joe believes that the drastic change in his life circumstances came about because his support broker took a ‘gift centred’ approach focusing on what a good life meant for him. Joe believes that all people with disabilities can make the same relevant progress that he has with the same approach. This is why Joe is keen to support Livesthroughfriends in the work they do in creating real lives for others and in changing attitudes towards the way we include disabled people in society.

Andy McDonnell – Director

BSc., MSc., PhD. Consultant Clinical Psychologist to and Director of Studio III Clinical Services; Director, clinical consultant and Team Leader to Studio III Training; formerly Clinical Psychologist to Monyhull Hospital Birmingham. Andrew has particular interest in the design of community settings for people who challenge. He has extensive experience of working with service users with a learning disability and/or an ASD who self harm.

Simon Pickthall – Director

A passionate thought leader and highly trained interventionist with expertise and experience in the strategic and operational application of systems, change and leadership theory. Through his open and sincere relationship style, has spent the last 14 years mentoring and enabling leaders in the public, third and private sectors, to transform their organisations.

Having held several Board member positions, Simon is looking to share his expertise in a Non-Executive Director role, enabling Boards and Senior Leaders to build and sustain their legacy.

His pioneering work in Social Care contributed to legislative change in Wales, moving from a deficit based model of care, to a strength based model, leading to dramatic improvements in outcomes for citizens, while reducing costs.