Mark Law MBE

Chief Executive, Barca-Leeds

BA Community Studies, Cert Youth and Community Certificate, Med Management of Community Education

Mark set up Barca-Leeds in 1994 growing into one the largest third sector organisations, employing over 100 members of staff. Barca-Leeds currently delivers a range of services across three major areas; Children, Young People and Families, Drug & Alcohol Treatment Services and Health and Well-Being (including Counselling and Psychotherapy). Barca-Leeds started out as a small youth group based in a temporary building and the organisation has, under Mark’s stewardship, grown into one of the larger third sector organisations in Leeds.

During that time, Barca-Leeds has, under Mark’s guidance, established a broad range of services that directly improves the life outcomes for children, adults and their families. Mark has developed a personal reputation for successfully developing innovative and responsive community services in West Leeds.

Mark is a board member Yorkshire Humber School for Social Enterprise and of Locality a national membership organisation for community anchor organisations . Mark has considerable experience of being a school governor was also Non-Executive Director of the Primary Care Trust and Trustee of numerous charities.

Mark is currently Vice Chair of Young Lives Leeds and sits on many strategic partnerships influencing the area leadership team and strategic commissioning boards.

Mark has been instrumental in the development of a number of community owned assets and this included the purchase and complete refurbishment of Barca’s Manor House building, the transfer of Bramley Baths to community ownership. Mark has also been key in the refurbishment of many community centres and buildings.

Susan Dean – Finance Director

Susan Dean  is the current Finance Director of Barca-Leeds, she has been working as part of the senior management team for Barca since 2004. She has over 30 years experience as a Finance Director, her career has been quite wide ranged and varied. She was Finance Director in the 80’s and 90’s for the London subsidiary of ENKA, one of the top 50 construction companies in the world and then she moved to Leeds and the voluntary and public sector in 1995, where she has managed a number of national and local voluntary sector organisations through strategic change management and financial planning. Sue currently volunteers for a number of local and international small charities as a Treasurer. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (affil), a member of the Charity Finance Directors Group and was a Common Purpose Graduate from the 2009 Meridian Programme.

Helen Hart: Assistant Operations Director, Children, Young People and Families

Helen has 13 years’ experience working with children and young people and started her career working in France, for a travel company, supporting children from across Europe. She spent a number of years working voluntarily for Millennium Volunteers in Leeds. Whilst working in this role, Helen supported children experiencing domestic violence with poor school achievement.

Whilst attending University achieving a BA (Hons) in Playwork, Helen worked in schools. She started work at Barca-Leeds in 2002 in the Play and Family Support Team. In this role Helen co-ordinated play schemes and projects targeted at children and young people at risk of crime and with low self-esteem.

In 2005, Helen became Manager of the Play and Family Support Service which included Out of School Clubs, Intensive Family Support, and Targeted Play. During this time Helen was successful in obtaining funds from Big Lottery and BBC Children in Need to ensure current services were sustained.

In 2010, Helen became part of the Senior Management Team and currently manages services including Youth Inclusion Project, Connexions, Youth Contract, Platform, Youth Work and Targeted Play.

Joe Kent: Assistant Operations Director, Health and Well-being

Joe Kent is the Assistant Operations Director (Health, Wellbeing and Adults services) and has responsibility for the development and management of the WY-FI, Counselling & Psychotherapy, Healthy Living Network and Social Prescribing (PEP) services at Barca.

He joined Barca in July 2014 and previously worked for Homeless Link, the national membership organisation for homeless agencies, as the Head of the Regional Team which supported voluntary sector organisations and local authorities to work together in partnership to end rough sleeping.

Before starting with Homeless Link in August 2005 Joe worked as a Commissioning Manager in the Leeds Supporting People team with responsibility for service reviews and contracts for all the Supporting People client groups.  Prior to this he managed the Leeds Housing and Community Care Project developing and implementing a multi-agency strategy.  In the early 1990’s Joe managed the single homeless team at Leeds Housing Advice Centre.  Joe has also had experience of working in the voluntary sector in Leeds as resettlement worker supporting young people to move on from hostel accommodation into their own tenancies.  Joe has expertise and experience of working in Local Government, joint working across agencies and detailed knowledge of the Supporting People programme, particularly in the areas of strategy, reviews, contracting and procurement.

Board Members

Caroline Johnstone (chair)

With a background in Finance and HR, Caroline has some 30 years’ business experience across the UK, Europe and US. She works at both strategic and operational level in times of significant change for organisations: implementing mergers & acquisitions, people change, corporate recovery and insolvency. Caroline was a senior partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) until 2009, a member of the PwC Assurance Executive Board and Assurance People (HR) Partner (6,500 people). She established two new businesses, developing the business strategy and team, and leading the marketing and delivery.

Caroline became chair of Barca-Leeds in March 2010.  She now has various other non executive and advisory roles: Non-executive member of the audit committee of the Crown Prosecution Service; Governor of Leeds University; Board review, consulting and mentoring to CEO of London-based charity; coach and mentor.

Stewart Firth

Stewart, operations director in a logistics company, has worked in supply chain logistics for nearly 25 years and has experience at all levels of the business.

In 1991, Stewart and two others set up Elite Group, and independent group of logistics companies which now employs 600+ people and has a turnover in more than £50 million. Elite has won many awards for its strong links with the local community. In 2003 he was invited to meet HRH the Prince of Wales in recognition of achievements from Business in the Community. Stewart was honoured as one of six Leeds residents to receive the 2008 Leeds Award for hard work and dedication in the local community.

Recently, Stewart has been involved in acquisitions, from selection and negotiating to merging operationally. He also has experience of industrial property, from purchasing and kitting out existing buildings to new builds, amounting to more than one million square feet of warehouse in the past 10 years.

Stewart’s first experience of the charity sector was his involvement with Bramley Elderly Action in 2005. That gave him the desire to expand his own knowledge while sharing any experiences that could benefit the development of others, a goal he pursues through his role as director for Barca-Leeds.

Robert Stubbs

Chartered Accountant with 30 years’ experience in auditing, accounts preparation and consulting. Robert has looked after a diverse client base including charities and those with an educational bias.

Since taking a 10 month sabbatical to race around the world during 1996/7, Robert has refocused his work load and has built up a small base of non-exec directorships and trustees of various local charities and FE colleges.

Robert retired from a large national practice in 2006 and since then has concentrated on a small portfolio of private clients. This has freed up time to allow closer involvement with charities and Further Education Colleges. Robert has been instrumental over the last 4 years in turning a Further Education College from being in special need to becoming on the brink of being outstanding.

Robert can bring experience to bear on many practical situations offering a strategic view to those who are focussed on the daily routines of running their businesses.

Darren Hill

Darren is a senior lecturer in Social Work and Substance Use at Leeds Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, where he is responsible for various managerial and academic roles.

Darren’s Social Work Group academic activities include leading the module for the introduction to social work and social work methods and approaches. He is a lecturer on research and evidence-based practice modules, and a tutor for the practice learning module. Darren is the lead for substance use across the Faculty of Health, lecturing on topics such as mental health, nursing and psychological therapies.

As Director of the Centre for Substance Use and Social Inclusion at the Faculty of Health, Darren trains Leeds Social Care Services and other voluntary sector organisations regionally and nationally on a range of related issues.

Before becoming an academic, Darren worked in community health and social care services. He has worked for a housing association as a resettlement worker, a nursing assistant within mental health services, as a family support worker for Leeds City Council’s Social Care Services and as a social worker for Barca-Leeds’s Community Drug Treatment Services.

Sophie Michelena

Sophie is a French national, and originally a language teacher in the public sector, then a marketing manager in the private sector, and a social enterprise manager. Sophie always got involved in community organisations within her personal life – theatre, anti-racist football tournaments…

After 18 months working for the Development Trusts Association (recently became known as Locality), Sophie hot desks from development trusts in Leeds, and have worked with member organisations all around Yorkshire as a charity development officer. Most of her work involves social enterprise support, advice around community asset transfer, and generally providing networking opportunities in the community sector.

Sophie has lived in Bramley since 2007, and felt it was time that she took part in community life and joined the board of Barca.

John Battle

John Battle was born in Bradford and educated at St. Paulinus’ School, a primary school in Dewsbury; St Michael’s College Underley Hall 1962-1967 (a junior seminary – secondary education for the training of priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool), and at St Joseph’s Upholland College (1967-1972) following a year of work he went to the University of Leeds where he gained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) First Class Honours in English in 1976. From 1976 – 79 he undertook post graduate research

In 1979 he began to work as a research assistant to Derek Enright, a fellow Catholic and a Member of the European Parliament. Battle gained a seat on the City of Leeds Council in 1980 and chaired the Industry and Employment Development Committee, the Housing Committee and the Urban Development Committee.

Between 1983 and 1987 John was the first coordinator of the national charity Church Action on Poverty. In 1987 he was elected to Parliament for Leeds West replacing the sitting Liberal M.P.

Focusing on tackling poverty and housing John was Labours housing spokesman under John Smith.

After 1997 John served as a Gort Minister in the D.T.I. and Foreign Office. He became a member of the privy council in 2002 and was the P.M’s envoy to the fault committees until May 2010.

Stepping down from Parliament in 2010 John now works in his community focusing in community organisations and tackling poverty whilst serving on national bodies.

He is the Vice President of the British Association on Counselling and Psycotherapists and a fellow of Leeds Trinity University.

Dave Foxton

Dave Foxton was born and educated in Leeds and qualified as a Physics and English teacher. After teaching for a short period of time, Dave then moved into adult education and established and managed the first Leeds Centre for the Unemployed, subsequently working in the community developing educational opportunities and vocational training for the long-term unemployed.

Dave moved into the Council and worked on corporate projects and initiatives including events of national and international significance for the city. He was one the first officers to join the new Department of Community Benefits Rights, managing projects and a staff team working on vocational training, credit union development, redundancy advice, BME community projects and employment for people with disabilities. During this time he gained a Diploma in Management Studies from Leeds Metropolitan University.

In 1998, Dave established the West Leeds Family Learning Centre developing adult education and vocational training opportunities for a wide range of local people including high school students, youth and Sure Start parents. He was responsible for a number of “Job Guarantee” schemes working with employers to support long-term unemployed people into sustainable work. He received a Zieff Award from Business in the Community “for individuals, based in the community, who have best collaborated with business to benefit society”.

In 2005 he became Extended Services Advisor to schools in West Leeds developing a range of partnerships to support children, young people and their families with Children Services. He retired from full time work in 2011 and has remained active in West Leeds in a number of roles including Chair of Governors at a local primary school. He was a founder member of the Healthy Living Network and joined the Barca-Leeds Board of Directors in 2013, subsequent to the merger of the two organisations.

 Anna Middlemiss:

Anna is currently Deputy Director of Public Health for Wakefield and leads on:

  • Health and social care integration (including evaluation and research);
  • Managing a team of staff delivering the public health core offer to the NHS (including long term conditions) commissioning;
  • Public Health Children and Young People Core Offer and chairing the Wakefield Child Death Overview Panel; and
  • The Public Health Prevention Agenda including the development of the voluntary and community sector.

Anna was also the Development Manager of a medium sized voluntary sector organisation aimed at engaging vulnerable groups (including project management, staff management, budgetary responsibility and prior to this, managed a large volunteering scheme aimed at engaging populations experiencing health inequalities).

Anna’s first substantive post was as an elected officer on Leeds University Union Executive Committee, representing the student body. After this she gained employment working as a PR and Marketing Manager.

Anna joined the Barca-Leeds Board as a trustee in 2016 and brings a wealth of experience in relation to the Health and Well-being sector.

Doug Martin

Dr Doug Martin has enjoyed a varied career including employment in health, adult and children’s social care, welfare benefits and education fields. His experiences ranges from frontline practice through to strategic management and policy development. He is currently working within higher education as a researcher and lecturer engaging in a broad agenda embracing the education and welfare agendas.

His research cuts across the traditional professional and organisational boundaries and deals with the larger strategic questions concerning improving outcomes for children, young people, families and communities.


21 Years of Community Based Action
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