Chris Winter – CEO
Having spent many years delivering ‘hands on’ training and education in Forensics and Behavioural Studies for Children and Adults with specific Challenging Behaviour Chris was given the opportunity to use all of his skills and take the lead role setting up a ‘Specialist Service’ at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Great Barr. He was responsible for the specialist learning of Adults and Children with challenging behaviour and learning difficulties/learning disabilities.
Within this role he worked and trained in some of the countries secure hospitals working with adults with extreme behaviours giving him vast practical, and hands on experience of learning around Challenging Behaviour.
With this knowledge Chris went on to setup a ‘Specialist Service’ within a Sutton Coldfield Special School working with children with Severe Challenging Behaviour, and parents whose children have Autism, and extreme behaviour difficulties. During this period he also worked with Sutton Coldfield Child Abuse Team and with similar teams in and around the Sutton Coldfield area.
All of the above experience enabled him to take a side step into Birmingham Social Services and the area of Learning Difficulties/Disabilities’, Complex needs, and the world of Community Education. This role took him into the work place, working with Adults with Disabilities’, and working with Employers around opportunities for Work Experience & Paid work. During this time Chris also worked alongside his wife, Veronica, running their own Care Home for Adults with ‘Difficult Behaviour’, which they ran for 7 years.
This phenomenal practical knowledge and the desire to do better, linked with the belief that so much more could be done to help adults with learning difficulties, learning disabilities and challenging behaviour led Chris to the fledgling idea that became Care First.
It came about after a chance meeting; Chris went to have a ‘goodbye coffee and chat’ with a client who lived in a Care Home [owned by Neil Thorogood]. Chris went to explain that he was moving on because he wanted to setup a ‘Never been done before’ Adult Service based in a college for adults who have Behaviour Difficulties and who ‘Learn Differently’.
This chance meeting with Neil, a qualified accountant and a successful discussion with North Birmingham College [now James Watt campus] resulted in Care First Ltd coming to life. Chris is responsible for all strategic and operational matters, including business development, human resources, curriculum and health and safety. . However his vision is much greater. His mission is for Care First Ltd to do much more to improve the quality of life for people through learning and personal development.
Neil Thorogood (Finance and Business Development Director) FCA – Fellow Chartered Accountant
Neil joined the training sector in 1991 giving him 20 years of very valuable knowledge; he worked initially with the unemployed. He was involved in the planning and set up of Care First having met Chris and Veronica in 1995 because of his and their involvement in residential care for adults with learning disabilities. His drive, to this day, is to make a difference to disadvantaged people’s lives and build a sustainable organisation that helps, nurtures and develops.
He is determined to provide quality education that meets individual’s needs, however severe their problems may be. He is a trustee of a Birmingham bereavement charity helping families overcome the loss of their children and a treasurer of a local church and Independent Examiner of Charity Accounts.
Veronica Winter (Director of Governance and Ethics)
Veronica is responsible for learning resources and purchasing. Her other responsibilities include human resource management, quality audit of the provision and overseeing learner enrolments and registers. As director of Care First since incorporation, she has been central to the company’s development and diversification.
Debbie Tipper (P.A to Directors)
Debbie’s early career was based in the NHS where she gained a BTEC Diploma and worked for ten years in Haematology. Her decision to change career direction led to Debbie retraining and gaining a variety of qualifications in IT and Business.
Debbie has worked for Care First Ltd for 12 years as the Directors’ Personal Assistant. She has a wide variety of secretarial and administrative duties both for the Directors and for the company in general. This includes being a friendly, helpful, first point of contact for staff and external agencies, responding to enquiries and having specific responsibilities in HR, finance and recruitment.
Glenys Jones – Client and Audit Manager
Glenys is one of our friendly helpful customer support staff; she is at the front end of our business providing students and carers with information on the courses we offer and organising taster days helping them see if Care First’s services with work for them. Glenys liaises with Community Options personnel, Social Workers, Charities such as Midland Mencap, Mind etc. and potential students and their carers. She works closely with Del Davies to organise appointments for assessment interviews and taster sessions.
Rob Lowell – Marketing
Rob looks after all aspects of marketing, communications and promotion for Care First. He works closely with the directors and support staff as well as the tutors and students to produce the materials required – creating awareness of what’s possible when students and staff combine to achieve wonderful results.
Wayne Hayes – Client and Audit Coordinator
I’m Wayne, the Clerical Support Officer for Care First and Skills Tank. I originally came to work with Care First on a government sponsored FJF back to work scheme having been unemployed for a while. At the end of the 6 months scheme Care First offered me role working as part of the admin team. A year later my role has grown to include the administration for both sides of the Company “Care First and Skills Tank” as well as data management and security and helping the Quality Standards Manager & Audit Quality coordinator ensure we surpass our quality goals and regularly audit the services we deliver to identify areas of improvement and excellence. I have come a long way in such a short time with Care First and I look forward to my future with Care First and Skills Tank.
Joanne Jeffs – Head of Health and Wellbeing
Having worked at various roles within Care First and Skills Tank designing and delivering services as well as managing Skills Tank hubs I moved into the position of Clinical Support. This role utilises the vast amount of knowledge I have of working with students who have very varied backgrounds, complex needs and behaviour that challenges.
I'm involved in making sure the clinical needs of students are met and that we have the correct protocols in place - this involves working with community nurses, social workers and carers as well as the learners themselves. The knowledge I've gained over many years at Care First and Skills Tank helps me work as part of a team that is involved assessments of potential new learners to understand their needs and capabilities so that a person centred development and support program can be put in place before they join us.