Event host

Brian Carr

Chief Executive, BVSC (Birmingham Voluntary Service Council)

Brian Carr has been chief executive of Birmingham Voluntary Service Council since 2005 and joined the organisation after periods spent working as a personnel manager with Marks and Spencer plc and as managing director of a local Citizens Advice Bureau. 
His role involves strategically leading BVSC in the full range of its activities, which focus on providing advocacy and development support to charities, community groups, and volunteers, and supporting the public and private sectors to better engage with the city's voluntary sector.
A past chair of Healthwatch Birmingham and Birmingham Race Action Partnership, Brian is currently Group Chair of Trident Housing Group and a non-executive director of Birmingham Children's Trust. He is a member of Birmingham's City Partnership board, Birmingham Children's Partnership board, Birmingham Community Safety Partnership board, and the city's Cost of Living Strategic Response Group.

Brian is a certified coach and is the author of three non-fiction titles including the self-help career guide How to Find Your Vital Vocation.

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Keynote Speakers

Richard Brooks
Director of Strategy, Equality & Partnerships, Birmingham City Council

Overview of Cost of Living context for Birmingham, and Birmingham City Council’s response

Richard is a strategy specialist with domestic and international experience across a wide range of roles in public policy, research, insight generation and public service delivery. His areas of expertise include economics, employment, poverty, education and skills, public service reform, accountability, and governance. A particular focus of his work has been addressing inequalities through governmental system reform. He is currently working for Birmingham City Council.
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Cllr Mariam Khan 
Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Birmingham City Council

Food Poverty - BCC Response and Birmingham Food System Strategy
Mariam was elected to Birmingham City Council in 2012 at the age of 21. She represents Alum Rock ward and is a mom to three toddlers. Mariam was appointed Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care in May 2022 and chairs the Health and Wellbeing Board as well as the sub boards focusing on mental health, food and health protection. She is a passionate advocate for families and children and is helping to lead the Council’s work to mitigate the impact that the cost of living crisis will have on ordinary people this winter, especially the most vulnerable in our city.
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Andrew Gordon
Programme Officer for Living Wage Foundation

The Real Living Wage and the VCFSE sector in Birmingham

I have 5 years of experience in the VCFSE sector, having previously worked as a teacher in the East Midlands. As Programme Officer for the Living Wage Foundation in the West Midlands, I’m excited to work alongside BVSC and its member organisations to support workers in achieving a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.
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Tom Mcneil
Assistant Police & Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands

Cost of living crisis: desperation, exploitation & crime
Tom is the Assistant Police & Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands.
Following his career as a charity lawyer, Tom was the Strategic Adviser to the previous Commissioner, with a particular passion for projects that empower vulnerable children and families.
Tom has held roles on a number of national and regional not-for-profit and public sector boards, which now include Birmingham Children’s Partnership, Birmingham & Solihull Integrated Care Partnership and the WMCA Mental health Commission.
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Other speakers and panelists 

Janice Nichols  
CEO, Citizen’s Advice Birmingham

Janice Nichols took up her post as Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Birmingham in October 2013.  She is an experienced manager and leader and has held senior management positions in local government and the voluntary sector. 
Janice has a Law degree from Coventry University and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Warwick; she is also a qualified executive and leadership coach. 
Janice is very committed to helping people access the best possible advice services when they need them, and she and the Citizens Advice Birmingham team are working to provide an excellent service to the people of Birmingham.
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Lorraine Gumbs 
Programme Development Manager, AgilityEco

Keeping the lights on – help and support for residents struggling to pay their energy bills
Lorraine has worked in the energy industry for over 20 years.  Her career started at Midlands Electricity Plc in 1992. She worked on various different projects including the deregulation of the electricity  supply for business and domestic customers before moving into energy efficiency.  In 2001 she was seconded to Warm Zones and  managed affordable warmth programmes providing energy advice, heating and insulation across the West Midlands, London and Wales.
Lorraine moved to AgilityEco in January 2019. She  currently manages  LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership)  which offers free home energy advice visits, a boiler repair/replacement scheme and white goods replacement scheme.

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Salim Shaikh
Director Smartlyte / Get Families Talking

Supporting people through the cost of living through digital

Salim is director of Smartlyte / Get Families Talking, digital lead for Birmingham Financial Inclusion Partnership and a Network Ambassador for the Good Things Foundation. 
Salim has extensive experience of working in telecoms, digital and education and bringing this together for all. 
Through this work, Salim is passionate about improving lives through digital and ensuring seldom heard voices are heard, and included, in our everchanging digital world.
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Pete Richmond 
Chief Executive, Bournville Village Trust/Birmingham Social Housing Partnership

Housing Association response to the crisis
Chief Executive at Bournville Village Trust (BVT). Track record in housing, community development and urban regeneration; previously the Chief Executive of a community-led housing and community regeneration charity. His passion is about the connection between creating great places and thriving communities.  
Pete is a founder member of a charitable group to promote the development of community-led housing across the West Midlands. He has experience of non-exec or trustee roles in multi academy trusts, housing associations, heritage museum and an employment trust.  

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Gareth Webber 
Advice Service Manager, Shelter

Fighting for Home - The impact of the cost of living crisis on the housing crisis
I manage Shelter’s Advice services across Birmingham, we provide community based and 121 advice, training for services and community activities for residents.
I’m also working with local partners to identify opportunities for early intervention for families in precarious housing situations. I’ve previously worked across rough sleeping and homeless accommodation services, and sustainability.  

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Sophie Wilson 
Director of Research, BVSC

Sophie established BVSC Research in September 2019. She is a skilled and experienced Third Sector Leader and researcher with excellent in-depth knowledge and understanding of the sector gained over twenty years. She has delivered over 30 research and evaluation projects since setting up the Research Directorate, commissioned by, amongst others, BCC, WMCA, the WMVRP and VCFSE organisations. Sophie is also a PhD research student at the University of Wolverhampton where she is undertaking a study relating to the involvement of lived experience in systems change within the field of multiple disadvantages.
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Fred Rattley
CEO, Thrive Birmingham

Introduction to Birmingham Warm Welcome
Fred Rattley is Director for Community Regeneration for the Church of England: Birmingham, adviser to the Bishop of Birmingham and CEO of Thrive Together Birmingham (Thrive). 
Born and raised in Watford Fred reluctantly came to Birmingham for a year in 1983 and has never been able to leave. After 40 years in youth and community regeneration work, he now loves the city and regards it as home. He has a passion for working with people and organisations who share a commitment to tackling issues of poverty and disadvantage and making Birmingham and the wider West Midlands a better place to live for all its citizens.

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