Our Board & Executive Team
SENIOR MANAGEMENT TEAM
Len Gibbs, Chief Executive and Company Secretary
Len has been the Chief Executive of EPIC Housing since its creation in 1997. He has previously worked for Knowsley Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and in various consultancy roles with local authorities. Len was also the chair of Sandwell Homes ALMO for seven years until 2012. He has worked in the field of social housing since 1986.
Len graduated from Manchester University in 1986 with a degree in Economics. Since then he has also achieved the CIH Professional Qualification and an MBA from Birmingham University. He has worked in the fields of social housing, planning, economic development and education. He has also worked closely with academics from various universities studying the effects of large scale regeneration projects and neighbourhood housing systems. He has served on national committees concerned with issues such as housing allocations, worklessness and neighbourhood statistics.
Len is currently a part-time PhD candidate at the University of Manchester. The study is concerned with analysing how rental investors in deprived areas make key decisions about their stock.
In his spare time Len enjoys hiking, cycling and travelling.
Rachael Fullwood, Finance Director
Rachael is a qualified finance professional having gained the AAT Technician Level NVQ 4 in 2004. Since then she has also achieved Chartered Membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing. Rachael joined EPIC in August 2016, moving from Shropshire Rural Housing Association in Shrewsbury, where she was employed from 2009. Rachael is committed to personal development for both herself and those around her.
Rachael has acquired a wide range of experience working for a range of organisations; both in the private and charitable sectors; from very small owner managed to large companies. Rachael has led on the development of existing systems and the implementation of new systems. A number of these roles had elements of operational responsibility providing Rachael with a holistic view of the Association's requirements.
Rachael has led on projects dealing with new legislative and regulatory requirements, providing both financial and systems expertise. As a member of the Senior Management Team, Rachael is equally responsible for appraising the framework of policies and procedures of the Association ensuring they meet the Association's objectives and aims, are fit for purpose and for ensuring the policies and procedures of the Association comply with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) Regulatory Framework.
Rachael is a member Regional Finance Forum; and of the National Housing Federation (NHF) National Smaller Housing Group, which was established and exists to:
- Support the NHF in developing and testing new policy ideas
- Ensure that the NHF see every new issue through the critical lens of smaller associations
- Support the NHF in engaging their wider membership of smaller associations in these debates
- Inform NHF responses to government and other key stakeholders
- Provide constructive challenge to Federation thinking
Jeff Plant: Operations Director
Jeff joined us as Operations Director in July 2019. He has strategic responsibility for all of our front line services, including asset management, growth, and customer services.
Jeff has extensive experience of business transformation and cultural change across a number of business areas, and considerable experience of modernising customer service delivery, improving communications, and customer engagement.
Jeff began his career in social housing in 2007, working in central Birmingham in tenancy enforcement before moving to work for a large Registered Provider with stock across the West and East Midlands.
Jeff has both a BA and MSc in Criminology from the University of Leicester and a MBA from the University of Warwick.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Stephen Funnell, Chair of the Board and Chair of the Audit Committee
At the Annual General Meeting Stephen was appointed as the Chair of the Board. Stephen is also the elected ward member for Bentilee and Ubberley (the ward within which EPIC operates), and treats this as a full time occupation. Stephen also holds the Housing portfolio on the Labour Group’s Shadow Cabinet.
Stephen has a MA and also an MPhil both in Employment Relations from Keele University. Prior to being an elected councillor he taught Management and HR on a casual basis at Derby, Keele and Middlesex Universities.
Prior to this he worked in a clerical capacity in the civil service and NHS, and also in a company secretarial capacity in the accountancy field.
Darshan Singh Matharoo, Vice Chair and Independent Board Member
Darshan joined the Board in September 2016 and is also a member of the Audit Committee. Prior to his appointment as the Head of Regulation Darshan worked as a Consultant for his own company called DSM Housing Consultancy Ltd. Previously Darshan was Chief Executive of United Housing Association in Bristol and Director of Housing and Support Services at Beth Johnson Housing Group in Stoke-on-Trent.
He has also worked for the Housing Corporation (London HQ) as Assistant Director Investment, Birmingham City Council Housing and Social Services departments where he held a number of posts, such as, Community Safety Regeneration Manager, Area Housing Manager and Policy Officer.
Darshan is also an independent board member of the Pioneer Group in Birmingham and a Trustee of a Birmingham Charity called Women Acting In Today's Society (WAITs). He has also held non-executive director positions with Chartered Institute of Housing, Sandwell Homes (3* ALMO) and Ashyanna Housing Association.
Darshan holds MBA in Public Service from the University of Birmingham and is a Fellow member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Alex Fury, Co-opted Board Member and Chair of Audit
Board Member and Chair of Audit Alex has been a Board Member since 2012, and is the Chair of the Audit Committee. He representing the local authority in this capacity until 2018 and now acting as a Co-opted Board Member. Prior to that Alex served on the Quality Panel and in addition has Chaired the Audit Committee since 2016. Alex has a strong background in the Housing sector beginning in 2001 and is currently employed as Development Manager for Muir Group in Chester. Alex has undertaken a broad range of roles within Housing Associations including urban and rural Development, Housing Management and front of house reception. In addition Alex has worked in development delivery for a National Housebuilder and for Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
Alex's skills are focussed around the development sector bringing a number of years, experience which includes work areas such as – project management, construction, regeneration, development viability, and budget control, planning, grant funding, Homes England relationships, establishing a Housing Company, tenancy management and other associated themes.
Andrew Stone, Independent Board Member
Andrew retired from Staffordshire Police in 2015, having served as a constable, sergeant and Inspector in a variety of roles. He has experience in decision making, problem solving and managing people, dealing with complaints, researching and writing policy and procedure, designing new processes and implementing changes. He has been involved in recruitment and interviewing, employment disputes, as well as redeployment and redundancy situations. As a Police Federation workplace representative, he regularly supported and represented colleagues, particularly around the work-life balance and wellbeing of officers.
His management experience has included work with local authorities, government agencies, third-sector services, and health and social services.
Andrew has a Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems and Psychology and holds a Graduate certificate in Leadership and Management.
Andrew is used to communicating with a wide range of people, at all levels, in the most extremes of circumstance and emotion, assisting them and advising them, both face-to-face or over the telephone. He trained to an internationally recognised level in Hostage and Crisis negotiation and was routinely deployed to critical incidents.
Andrew is now a Freelance Tutor, regularly delivering training to Witness Service volunteers and staff to prepare them for their new roles.
A long-standing Volunteer School Governor and Academy Trustee at Christ Church Academy, Stone, involved in the oversight and management of the school, including finance and appeals committees. He is also Churchwarden at Christ Church, Stone - a varied office, with responsibilities for the buildings, property, the correct administration of the church and supporting the vicar.
Volunteering as an Advisor with Staffordshire South West Citizens Advice Bureau, he has seen that housing issues, rent and landlord disputes, are a significant area of worry for clients. Recent and pending changes in legislation and support will continue to place housing high on the list of concerns.
Peter Lunio, Independent Board Member
Peter has been a board member since June 2017. Having worked in the sector for over 10 years whilst he was a Director at RSM (formerly Baker Tilly – 7th largest accountancy practice in the UK) as Head of their Social Housing practice, he wanted to utilise some of that experience and his contacts to support the development and growth of EPIC and its stakeholders.
He recognises, as an individual who was born and bred in Oldham and lived in a immigrant one-parent family, the difficulties faced when living in challenging housing conditions. He wanted to try and ensure that those with similar disadvantages have an appropriate representative voice who can influence decisions and have an impact on their housing in the Bentilee community.
Peter is also an experienced Board executive, having sat on the RSM Pensions Board for four years. He also sits on the Bradford University Board and is a Trustee for the Halton Citizens Advice Bureau as well as currently chairing EPIC’s Service Improvement Committee.
He brings a wealth of experience with both strategic/operational knowledge and has over 15 years’ experience in international consulting, working with organisations such as 3M, Black & Decker, Boots the Chemist, Chevron Texaco and BT. During his 10 years at RSM, he gained vast experience of the social housing sector working with organisations such as Midland Heart, Accent, Walsall Housing and East Midlands Housing Group, specialising in Value for Money and Digital Inclusion.
Currently, Peter is a partner in a niche consultancy called “Insights with Purpose” specialising in implementing digital and analytics in the Social Housing sector.
Extensive professional experience and significant executive leadership accomplishments in business and not for profit sectors, enable him to support the EPIC board and management team with strong diplomatic skills and a natural affinity for cultivating relationships; as well as persuading, facilitating and building consensus among diverse individuals, in order to try and ensure that the decisions the Board makes have a lasting positive impact on EPIC and the community.
He has a Physics and Geography Degree and an MBA and is a Business Advisor for Princes Youth Trust. He enjoys spending time with his daughter, walking, gardening, skiing, reading and is an avid football fan.
Kirsty Holmes, Tenant Board Member
Kirsty has been a tenant of EPIC Ltd since 2013 and was keen to join the Board of EPIC to help to improve the area within which she lived. Having previously worked with EPIC both in a voluntary capacity and then later as a Trainee Housing Assistant for 12 months in 2014, she has had the benefit of seeing 'both sides of the coin'.
Kirsty currently Chair's our Quality Panel which is the forum for service reviews and monitoring standards within our front lines services. Back in 2014 Kirsty completed a Certificate in Mentoring with the Institute of Counselling.
Victoria Robb, Co-opted Board Member
Victoria joined the board in September 2018 as a Co-opted Board Member. Victoria has worked in the social housing sector for 8 years holding senior roles in different Local Authorities and currently a housing association.
Victoria graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a Bachelor of science degree in 2007 and since this time has achieved a Postgraduate Certificate in Housing Studies from DeMontfort University in addition to a HHSRS qualification from the University of Warwick.
Victoria is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and an associate member of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Victoria currently works as a Senior Development Manager for a large midlands based housing association where responsibilities include establishing and delivering new affordable housing development programmes and managing new business activity. Core competencies include development project management, strategic planning, budget management and regeneration.
Andrew Milroy, Local Authority Member
Andrew has worked in social housing for around 34 years. He is passionate about promoting good quality, safe, affordable housing choices to people, and being proud about who he works for and upholding the company aims and values. He firmly believes housing is a profession, which should recognised as such and that we invest in developing people to have a rewarding career in the multitude of work streams that housing can offer.
Over the years, I have seen social housing change in many ways, some for the better, some not so. I have helped influence changes at a local level, recognising that skills such as being able to communicate to differing audiences, working with a wide range of partners and the actual communities which we work within are key to ensuring we deliver good services to our diverse range of customers. I have worked with tenants, community groups, community leaders and resident associations on a variety of projects and day to day matters, occasionally in difficult and stressful circumstances, but feel that I have been able to work through differences and earn respect and understanding of the role or job that I had to deliver.
Andrew has been the Local Authority’s representative member for EPIC’s Quality Panel (now the Operations Committee) since 2012 and has recently joined the Board (again as the Local Authority’s representative member). During this time, he has enjoyed being part of EPIC’s developments and evolution, being able to add aspects of his knowledge, challenge where required and develop good relationships with staff. He has seen EPIC grow and become stronger in itself and create a firm place within Bentilee’s community and establishing a good reputation as a RSL.
Lisa Dulson, Independent Board Member
Lisa joined the Board in September 2019. As a previous longstanding employee of EPIC, Lisa fully supports and relates to the organisations ethos and values and believes in the work that EPIC does to create sustainable and affordable homes across North Staffordshire. Lisa’s experience working directly with our tenants, gives her a rounded view of our services and customers that not all Board Members get to experience.
Lisa currently works as a Quality and Governance Manager within the Primary Care Sector and as well as her knowledge and experience within Social Housing, brings a range of skills and qualifications in Human Resources (CIPD qualified and holds a Certificate in Coaching), Health and Safety (NEBOSH qualified) as well as extensive experience in Governance and Administration.
Becoming A Board Member
For information on becoming a Board member, visit Becoming a Board member.
EPIC is also governed by both an Audit and Operations Committee. For more information please complete the contact form found under 'Contact Us'