NewLink Wales Trustees:

Ewan Hilton (Chief Executive Officer, Platfform)

I’m Ewan, and I’m Chief Exec of Platfform.

I have worked in the charity and housing sector in Wales since I moved to Cardiff when I was nineteen. I love what I do and have always worked for organisations with a social purpose. I became aware of the gross lack of equality and social justice as a kid and this has driven what I do and how I live ever since.

I live in Cardiff – a proud Splott resident, and enjoy lots of trips to Spain where my partner lives.

When I am looking after my physical and emotional health you’ll see me getting lots of exercise, particularly, cycling. I don’t drive so I get around on my bike and public transport. I’ll also be eating healthy food, spending lots of time with friends and family and walking in the mountains.

I always know when I’m tired, stressed or need a break as these things slip away – I don’t get enough exercise, eat unhealthy food, drink too much wine and shut myself away.


Liz Mander (Director of Operations, Platfform)

My name is Liz and I’m the Director of Operations.

I live in West Wales with my husband, two teenage children, a border collie called Ethel and a cat called Missy Moo Moo Cat!

I spent my childhood growing up in Porthcawl which is where my love of the beach is rooted. There is nothing like a long walk on the beach to clear my head and feel refreshed.

I graduated from Swansea University 2001 with a Sociology degree, still uncertain about what career I wanted, although I knew from spending time growing up with a family member with an addiction and health issues that I wanted to work with people.

Over the years I have worked in a number of support roles within Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Youth Offending. I found my forté in 2003 when I joined a third sector charity Caer Las and spent 10 years working within supported housing. I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with so many amazing people who shared their stories and inspired me with their strength and determination. The memories and people I met will always have a place in my heart.

In 2016 I joined Platfform as Head of Service in Gwent to continue my passion of working with people. I have truly enjoyed the three years I have worked here. I have met some fantastic people and continue to be blown away by the compassion of colleagues.

There have been times during my life that I have experienced my own mental health struggles, in particular following the birth of my son. During these times I found the importance of making time for myself whether that was out walking, swimming, reading or talking to friends and family.

I am always keen to explore new ways of managing the stresses of a busy life and have found a new buzz from high intensity training. I have enjoyed attending spin class for a few years and more recently I have started circuit training. I balance this with spending time with my husband and children.


Neil Hapgood (Trustee)

My name is Neil Hapgood. I moved to Swansea in 2003 after a period of working abroad. I have since spent over 12 years working in Youth and Community Services.

I have developed the delivery of services in my local authority by 400% over the last 10 years. My interests lie in the development of products and services that have the depth and quality to have a long lasting impact on people’s wellbeing, and how these services can be monitored and improved.

In 2006, I was fortunate enough to survive a brain haemorrhage whilst surfing in Cornwall. After a few weeks in a coma, I made a good physical and cognitive recovery but it was the beginning of a spell of struggling with mental health. It is this experience which has inspired me to become involved with Gofal.

In 2007 I was the Welsh winner of the ITV 'feel good factor' award for his work with young people and attended the pride of Britain awards.

I also hold a degree in Management, and MA in Health and Community Development from Demontfort University.


Huw Davies (Trustee)

My name is Huw and I joined the board of Platfform in December 2015 after returning to the UK following 3.5 years working in the Middle East. I am now Finance Director of CPS Group in Cardiff, one of the UK’s leading IT and Technical recruitment companies.

I have gained significant financial experience through working for a number of large multinational corporations across Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia. A decade of finance leadership commenced at Deloitte and I have held positions within the UK telecoms industry as Finance Director and a number of senior finance roles within the Oil and Gas sector. The most recent positions included GardaWorld, International SOS and CFO of Stirling Group.

I am a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and hold an Economics degree from the University of Manchester.

 


Platfform Board

David Davies (Chair)

I am the Managing Director of Cardiff-based café bars, Kin+Ilk. I’ve also been working with Platfform since 2011 and am Chair of the Board of Trustees.

I’m from a small village called Bedwas and worked as a qualified solicitor for twenty-two years before becoming an entrepreneur. Despite having a successful career I have experienced difficulties with my mental health. Not many people would have been aware of these difficulties because I was able to hide them but as time went on my struggles with OCD became worse.

A lot of people associate OCD with cleaning, or hoarding but for me, it’s intrusive thoughts. Ironically, the thoughts seem to spike when good things happen; during extremely happy milestones or when new responsibilities occur.

I was able to push through to a certain point but following a particularly difficult time I looked into talking therapies. Once I found the right therapist this quite honestly saved my life.

Talking therapies and mindfulness are my go to tools when things get on top of me – I think it’s so important that people don’t ignore the signs of mental distress. There are tools and coping strategies that can help you to feel better. Mindfulness is brilliant for OCD. You can’t have two thoughts at once. If you continually live in the moment, you can’t look forward or back.

In October 2018 I helped open Platfform’s new counselling and wellbeing centre called Breathe. Based in Cardiff, it’s a unique space that allows people to access counselling and wellbeing activities.

All profits are reinvested into Platfform’s work meaning that Breathe can offer low-cost counselling to people who are on low incomes or are unemployed. Not everyone can afford counselling but everyone should have access to its benefits, we should all be able to get the help and support we need to look after our mental health.

My main aim for being Chair for Platfform is to leave a legacy. The current approaches to support people when they face challenges with their mental health don’t work. That’s why we transformed our strategy and why we plan to be constructively disruptive when we look at the current system. We have no restrictions on our ambitions, it’s a very exciting time to be a part of the movement for change.


Debbie Green (Trustee and Vice Chair)

I’m Debbie Green and I’m a Trustee and Vice Chair of Platfform. Actually I am now the longest serving trustee although it doesn’t feel like that long, because Platfform is an organisation that is ambitious and continuously wanting to do new things. I’m originally from London, but after university moved to Cardiff with my partner who is from North Wales. I now live in Mumbles while doing up a bungalow in south Gower. I have one daughter who is in her final year at university.

My first proper job was training to be an accountant, because I didn’t know what to do with a history degree. Having left one of the big four accountancy firms, I spent some time travelling in India, SE Asia and Australia, before returning to the UK and accidentally discovering that my passion is for working in the not for profit sector. I spent some time at the Arts Council before moving to Chwarae Teg, the women’s’ economic development charity. Currently I am Chief Executive of a housing association, Coastal Housing Group based in Swansea.

I’m a bit of a workaholic, so I don’t have a massive amount of spare time. However I am enjoying living close to the sea, and get out for walks along the coast whenever I can. I am looking forwards to some slightly warmer weather so I can get into the sea, as swimming, particularly outdoors, is something I have always loved. Our rescue dog died quite recently and once we move to our own property we are thinking or getting another dog; the house feels a bit empty without one.

I’ve always thought I am quite a “strong person” which is actually nonsense, and when my mother died, relatively young, and not that long after I’d had my daughter, I carried on regardless for a few months and then hit rock bottom. Both that, and some subsequent stressful work situations, have made me re-evaluate my priorities, and how I take care of myself. Around this time I also developed a keen interest in Buddhism and meditation as a way of thinking differently about myself and the world. That doesn’t mean I don’t get side-tracked by bottles of red wine and cake from time to time.


Stewart Davison (Trustee)

My name is Stewart and I joined Platfform’s board of trustees in early 2013 to support the ness development activities of the organisation.

I have had a varied professional background with service in the armed forces, front line social housing roles and over 10 years in the computer industry. In my role as senior manager, I work on technology solutions for housing organisations and local authorities to increase access for service users. I am also a current trustee of the Welsh homelessness charity Shelter Cymru.

I’m very excited to be part of this organisation; it’s innovative and expanding all the time. The charity is full of great people and is dedicated to supporting people with mental health issues, so I’m relishing the challenge and looking forward to being part of its continuing success both now and in the future.

 

 


Chris Loughran (Trustee)

My name is Chris Loughran and I have 10 years’ experience working in the non-profit sector in the UK and overseas. I am currently Director of Policy and Evaluation for MAG, an international charity specialising in landmine clearance and conflict recovery.

ategic influence and advocacy work, leading policy engagement with the United Nations. I also oversee approaches to impact measurement. I joined MAG in 2006 following various roles in the UK civil service and a volunteer role in community-based projects in Uganda and Bosnia.

Outside of work, I enjoy running, cooking and spending time with family and friends in England and South Wales.