Laura Austin Croft
Laura has had 15 years’ experience working in the voluntary and public sector, developing expertise in community development, health policy and employment and health. From August 2016 she starts a specialist training post in public health medicine. Laura was previously a trustee and chair of the London Gypsy Traveler Unit.
Matt works as director of social enterprise for Homeless Link, the national membership organisation for homelessness services. Previously he was CEO of Resource Information Service, a small information charity focused on homelessness and poverty. He has worked for homelessness services in London, Coventry and Rugby for more than 30 years, including hostels, day centres and advice services. Matt was previously chair of Threshold Housing Advice from 2006 to 2011.
Louisa McDonald (Peer Representative Trustee)
Louisa has over 20 years’ experience working in the voluntary, private and public sectors, focusing on health, homelessness, anti-social behaviour, bullying, counselling, families and young people. Louisa also has experience in event management, has been a foster parent (and is a parent) and a counsellor.
Louisa joined Groundswell in 2017 as a Homeless Health Peer Advocate, working on the ground with service users and service staff. In early 2019 she was involved in securing the contract to deliver HHPA in Islington. Louisa has also volunteered in the research team on projects with Kings College London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University College London and the Royal College of Nursing. Louisa is co-author on the published article “Management of plaque in people experiencing homelessness using ‘peer education’: a pilot study” available in the British Dental Journal.
“I arrived back at Heathrow in 2003, after living many years in Melbourne Australia, drink dependant and homeless…On January 1st, 2008, I collapsed in the street and was admitted to hospital…In October 2008, I started my volunteering with Ealing Supporting People and trained as a Peer Consultant interviewing Homeless People in Hostels, Sheltered Accommodation and Day Centres. I also became Secretary to Ealing Supporting People.”
Following Gerry’s experience of homelessness and alcohol dependency she joined Groundswell in 2011 and trained to become a volunteer Homeless Health Peer Advocate, she credits Groundswell’s approach to treating people as equals. Gerry volunteered for approximately 3 years before becomong a staff member. Most recently she was Groundswell’s Women’s Case Worker until she retired in January 2020 and she now uses her expertise and experience sitting on the board of trustees.
Dr. Al Story
Al is the founder and clinical lead of the pan-London Find & Treat Service based out of University College Hospitals. His core expertise is in tackling communicable diseases among homeless people, drug and alcohol users, prisoners and destitute migrants. His research interests include outreach, integrating point of care diagnostics on the street, case management, the inclusion of service users within multidisciplinary teams and the use of internet technologies to promote engagement with health services and treatment continuity. He is an original member of the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health and the Pathway Team and a senior lecturer with the Farr Institute at University College London.
Steve Wyler OBE (Treasurer)
Steve is an independent advisor and writer in the social sector. He is an associate of the Carnegie UK Trust, and a board member of Community Links and Access (the Foundation for Social Investment). Previous roles have included CEO of Locality, the Development Trusts Association, and Homeless Network. He has worked as a consultant for grant-making trusts, helped set up Social Enterprise UK, and has been a member of various Government advisory groups on localism, social enterprise, and the third sector. He was made OBE in 2011 for services to the Voluntary Sector.
Jenny Yates (Chair of Trustees)
Jenny joined Groundswell’s board in January 2018 where later that year she became Treasurer for two years before taking over as Chair of Trustees in September 2020. Jenny is Director of Programmes at the Elders where she has worked since 2015. Prior to this she worked at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID): leading the UK Government’s efforts to help Indonesia address climate change, based in Jakarta; and also working for DFID in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and in the Communications Division in London. Prior to that, Jenny worked in NGOs and with the governments of Uganda and Swaziland, including working with Oxfam in Mozambique and as an Overseas Development Institute Fellow in the Ministry of Agriculture in Swaziland.