About us Meet the team Our trustees POhWER is governed by a board of trustees who are elected by our members. Read more about each person. Aruna Patel Aruna benefited personally from POhWER’s services in 2000 after being discharged from hospital. Her experience working with her advocate, inspired her to join the charity to continue to help and support others; in 2008 she became a trustee for the organisation. Aruna is deeply involved in charity work as a trustee of Watford Indian Association. She also has experience as a trustee for Harrow Links and the treasurer Watford Asian Care Community. As a carer herself, looking after her mother and as a patient, she is able to relate to the Asian community and provide a vital voice for the vulnerable. She is proud that POhWER helps to enable different cultures in Asian communities to understand the NHS system through translators and advocates. Having seen the impact and benefit POhWER can have on people’s quality of life herself, she wants to continue to work with POhWER staff to deliver the charity’s next steps. Richard Carter Richard is a civil servant who has worked in the Department of Health, with two spells in the NHS, since 1986. He was also carer and understands only too well the help that POhWER can give. His late mother had dementia and the experience of this impressed upon Richard how important it is that there is help for those who cannot navigate the health and care systems on their own. John Barzey John lives in Staffordshire and has experience of using advocacy service as a carer. He was so impressed with the service that he became a member and has since been increasingly involved with POhWER, among other things, reviewing and giving feedback on the most re John has successful experience of operating within the board in a charitable housing association. For example, he se served as a committee member of Harambee Housing Association Ltd for around 5 years during the mid-1980s. John was a senior probation officer within the West Midlands Probation Service until retirement in 1995. During that time he demonstrated his experience of building and sustaining relationships with key stakeholders and colleagues to achieve their organisation’s objective. He earned the confidence and willingness of the courts to accept his offender management recommendations, with the reports he wrote proposing non-custodial sentences, which he followed up with a track record of successful post-sentencing offender supervision. His successful management of offenders also demonstrated his ability to sustain relationships with them Waqas Chauhdry Waqas was elected on to the board of trustees in 2015. Waqas is a Management Consultant with many years experience of working with equality, diversity and inclusion in Britain and internationally. He shares his practical know how and expertise in supporting business in the private and public sector to mainstream diversity with business strategy and to manage it as a key business objective. He has undertaken research, drafted guidance on diversity and inclusion and delivered training and consultancy projects to more than one hundred local, national and global organisations such as UNESCO, EHRC, BBC, CQC, GMC, NHS Trusts and various local and regional authorities. He comes with a wealth of board and committee level experience gained from various public and third sector roles in the last ten years. Waqas is blind and enjoys sports, politics and commenting on current affairs. Leigh Hutchings Leigh’s background is in engineering and as a result some of his skills lie in trouble-shooting and problem-solving. Over the years Leigh has become completely blind. He is now deeply involved in the voluntary sector with a particular interest in access and equality issues especially for people with a disability. Although Leigh being disabled himself, he was the main carer for his late grandmother and understands the benefits as a user of the Direct Payment (personal budget system). It also means he has had regular contact and uses various departments in different organisations such as his County Council's Adult care service (HCS) and Sensory services, the NHS hospitals etc, DWP (Department of Works and Pensions) for benefits etc. Leigh was asked by a couple of the founding members of POhWER to join the Board due to his previous work. Leigh has had to use the Advocacy service of POhWER amongst others. This has reinforced his benefits that POhWER can bring to others. With that in mind he can call himself and be classed as a “User” in the terminology “User Lead or User group” in more ways than one. In the last few years he has successfully undertaken the training to become an access auditor and is working towards being an accredited NRAC Auditor. He holds many positions for different charities within the voluntary sector, including being a founder member and Chairperson of Watford's Access group "Disability Watford", Chair of Watford Talking Newspaper for the blind, a speaker and local ambassador for Guide Dogs. He has the same interests as when he was sighted including D.I.Y, messing around with his motorcycles and also likes going to both football and American Football. His interest in football and access made him become a trustee of the National Association of Disabled Supporters (level playing field) and a founder member of the disabled supporters at Watford FC in the past. He is a member of the Access Association and NRAC. Geoff Gibbs Geoff was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2013 at the AGM. Since his appointment he has been POhWER’s Company Secretary and he was the lead trustee who, along with senior staff, co-ordinated POhWER’s Governance review in 2015. He is currently Chair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee He is a qualified accountant and has worked for more than 40 years in the public, charity and not for profit sector. He is currently working four days a week as the Interim Chief Executive Officer for Moorfields Eye Charity having successfully project managed a merger between two Moorfields charities from 31st December 2015 that has resulted in a new, independent charity. Previously he was a Non-Executive Director and Deputy Chair of Quantum Care, an industrial and provident society organisation providing residential and dementia care across almost thirty homes in Hertfordshire, Essex and Bedfordshire. Before that he was a Board Member of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations representing the education. Toby Cotton Toby has a degree in History and Politics and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. For the past ten years he has been a finance director with The Risk Advisory Group Plc and recently took up the position of Finance Director with Salamanca Risk Management Limited. Toby has a 25 year daughter with learning difficulties who attended a training academy for people with learning difficulties, where she gained NVQ's in Catering and Hospitality. Since gaining her qualifications she has moved into her own house, currently has two paid part time jobs, cleans and cooks, travels to St Albans twice a week, goes swimming once a week, has friends round to dinner and goes out independently in the town to shops. Toby understands the importance of his daughter having her independence and personal self esteem. Bridget Flint Bridget lives in Hertfordshire and had polio as a child. For many years she ran her own business her clients consisting of blue chip companies who engaged her company to provide counselling and support to their employees who were experiencing personal problems which impacted on their performance at work. She has been the Vice Chair of the charity Opportunities for People with Disabilities as well as the Vice Chair of the British Polio Fellowship. She is currently a volunteer with Parkinson’s UK and trains staff in care home how to care for their residents with Parkinson’s as well as being appointed a member of their Nominations Committee, a subcommittee of the Board She was elected a Trustee of POhWER in November 2015 and is passionate about making a positive difference to people’s lives. Sundera Kumara-Moorthy Kumar is passionate that fair and equal access to Health and Social Care for ALL who need it. Disabled himself, affected by polio when infant, has first hand experience of inequality, discrimination an difficulties encountered daily by those living with disabilities. He is passionate of advocacy, giving voice to all service users ensuring they are heard and listened to by service providers and professionals. Graduate (BSc, Msc and MBA) of Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine London, Kumar’s working career spanned computing and communication industries where he held senior management and board positions in high technology business enterprises. He has applied his commercial nuance to volunteer and charitable sector. in particular Kumar has actively contributed to the review of POhWER's governance to assist the Charity' develop flexible but robust management structures to enable it to remain competitive when responding to the challenges of austere economic climate. Kumar is resident of Hertsmere. He has been Trustee of POhWER since 2013 and other directorships he hold include Healthwatch Hertfordshire and Disability Watford. Sarifa Patel Sarifa is currently a trustee of the “Alliance of inclusive education” and “Cyana cancer you are not alone” Sarifa also works for parents for inclusion, a charity that supports and empowers parents of disabled children. She is multilingual and has a large network support. Sarifa also campaigns for the human rights of disabled children which includes campaigning for their rights to be educated throughout their life. Against all the odds Sarifa has achieved all this with fibromyalgia, lupus and breast cancer, relative depression, diabetes blood pressure slipped disc, osteopenia arthritis, under active thyroid and Mini Tia. Despite all of this she continuously puts others first. Sarifa has been supported and empowered by POhWER and would like to give something back.