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

Councillor Nicky Brennan
Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Community Safety and Equalities, Birmingham City Council

Cost of Living Week

Councillor Nicky Brennan was appointed as Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Community Safety and Equalities in May 2023. Working with colleagues in the Cabinet, she has pledged to work and for every single community to deliver the services our citizens deserve.  

Nicky is dedicated to ensuring equality for all and as Cabinet Member has committed to build on her previous role within the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. As the first West Midlands Victims Commissioner, she acted as an advocate for the rights and welfare of victims throughout the criminal justice system.  

Over the course of her career, Nicky has worked in the charity sector, including supporting women fleeing domestic abuse, at risk of homelessness or in the criminal justice system and during Covid is proud to have set up Baby Aid Birmingham, an organisation that helps babies and early years children.   

A member of the Labour party, she was first elected to Birmingham City Council in 2018 and is proud to represent Sparkhill.  Nicky was born in the Moseley area of Birmingham and has lived in the city all of her life. She supports Aston Villa Football Club and is now bringing up her three daughters in the city she loves. 

Connect with Councillor Nicky Brennan:

E-mail: [email protected] | https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/

Andrew Gordon
Programme Officer for Living Wage Foundation

The Real Living Wage – Where We Are and Where We’re Going 

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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Anthony Hughes
Interim Project Manager, BVSC

Launch of the BrumEnergy project

Freelance: Project development.
Director of CIC’s, Community Development Trust and Community Land Trust. 
Lead for community engagement, innovation start up, cultural economy and heritage programmes. Sectors: Public, Private, Charitable Not For Profit and Higher Education. 

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Phil Beardmore
Co-Founder, Energy Confidence and the Good Work Coop

Launch of the BrumEnergy project

Phil Beardmore is an Environment and Sustainability Consultant, specialising in energy efficiency and renewable energy. He gives honest, practical help and strategic support to small businesses, public authorities, householders, charities, cooperatives, faith groups, and housing providers, who wish to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He was voted one of the Top 50 Green Leaders in the West Midlands. Phil is a Trustee of the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, a Member Director of Citysave Credit Union, and Secretary of Cooperatives West Midlands.

Fred Rattley
CEO, Thrive Birmingham

Warm Welcome in Birmingham: Building a long-term network of hospitality and local support 
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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Becky Isaac
Vision for Volunteering Implementation Manager, BVSC 

Birmingham’s Vision for Volunteering – Volunteering Challenges and Opportunities in a Cost of Living Crisis  
Becky is BVSCs Vision for Volunteering Implementation Manager. She has 8 years’ experience of volunteer management in multiple contexts, including local, national, and international volunteer management and managing volunteers at events and festivals. Becky understands first-hand the challenges and opportunities currently presented to the VCFSE sector in recruiting, onboarding, recognising, and retaining volunteers. She believes in the power of volunteers to bring about change and make things happen in communities. Despite the challenges that the sector currently faces, Becky is optimistic about how volunteers can continue support their communities and local services in the face of rising living costs.

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Rosa Spawton-Rice
Head of Grants & PartnershipsBVSC 

How the Household Support Fund (HSF) is being utilised in Birmingham to support residents with the cost of living
Rosa has worked in the VCFSE sector in Coventry and Birmingham since 2009, working across various thematic areas, notably projects focusing on youth and adult unemployment, and adults experiencing multiple disadvantage. In 2014 she joined BVSC in the role of Finance & Monitoring Officer and has since worked in a variety of posts. Rosa is now Head of Grants and Partnerships, with overall responsibility for various thematic grants to organisations across the VCFSE sector as well as the Hardship Grant Community Fund 

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Rashid Ikram
Interim Commissioning Manager Adult Social Care Directorate, Birmingham City Council 

How the Household Support Fund (HSF) is being utilised in Birmingham to support residents with the cost of living

Rashid has worked in the regional and local government sectors since 2000, with experience in variety of roles including strategy, research, policy and commissioning. 

Over the course of this period he has worked in several policy and programme areas including  housing, homelessness and neighbourhood renewal, environmental protection and sustainability. 

His current areas of responsibility include commissioning of services for vulnerable communities across the health and social care sector and supporting the delivery and of oversight Birmingham’s Household Support Fund. 

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Annette Holman 
Program Manager, Neighbourly Lab

Shopping and Community Connection - How can we unlock the opportunity to support local people in Birmingham by amplifying connections in their everyday spaces? 

Annette joined Neighbourly Lab in July 2023 bringing her experience of designing, implementing and managing innovation programmes to support people’s health and wellbeing from past roles at Nesta and the NHS. She spends time engaging with stakeholders across VCFSE, public and private sector, looking at ways to develop new ideas and test innovations to support connected and resilient communities. She specialises in loneliness and the value of people's contribution to society.

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Ian Henshaw
Head of Strategic Funding and Sector Development, BVSC 

Feedback from the State of the Sector ‘Fundraising’ and how we can respond.

At BVSC we aim to provide member organisations with access to information on a wide range of funding opportunities. Any not for profit organisation with a turnover below £1million working in Birmingham can register and use the engage for funding portal Home | Engage for Funding – Birmingham (idoxopen4community.co.uk) We run a weekly (term-time) webinar every Monday at 1pm with content including tips for identifying opportunities and completing applications, as well as meet the funder events  

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Steven Simpson
Chair, West Midlands Funders Network 

Responding to Permacrises: What we Learnt from the WMFN Annual Conference

Steven is the chair of the West Midlands Funders Network (WMFN). WMFN is a membership organisation for grant makers in the West Midlands and offers a programme of events, workshops and joined up approaches designed to increase the skills, knowledge and cooperation of grant makers and others with and interest in civil society. WMFN has over 50 members who collectively make over £150 million of grants in the West Midlands. Steven has previously worked in the civil society for over 25 years including senior positions at Capita, Remploy and the Jericho Foundation. Steven is currently the chief executive of the Harborne Parish Lands Charity; a Housing Association and a grant making trust operating in the ancient parish of Harborne. When not championing social justice Steven can often be found walking, tinkering with (and often breaking) vintage cars or massively over analysing movies.   

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Jagwant Johal
Trustee, Birmingham Race Impact Group 

Cost of Living in a Racist Society

Jagwant is a co-founder of BRIG (Birmingham Race Impact Group), which was set up following the racist murder of George Floyd to Keep Race on the Agenda in Birmingham and the wider region, by holding agencies to account in fulfilling their responsibilities and passing on the anti-racist baton to future generations. His also the Secretary of the Shaheed Udham Singh Welfare Trust, founded in 1978. Jagwant, has a breadth of experience and expertise on anti-racism, voluntary sector, community development and local government spanning 40 years, during which time he has spearhead a range of campaigning initiatives and holding various positions both locally and nationally.   

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Stephen Raybould
Programmes Director, BVSC 

VCFSE Hub in the Context of the Cost-of-Living Crisis – Connecting the City to its Communities

Stephen works as Programmes Director at BVSC

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Taylor McDonald
Head of Children, Families & Young People, BVSC 

Multi-Bank & The Dream Team  

Experienced Health & Social Care professional with an interest in harnessing the power of communities. With prior experience working in the provider market and local authority commissioning, I am now working as Head of Children, Families & Young People at Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC). At BVSC we are passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of people in Birmingham and we believe that the key to this is found in our communities.

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