Our Leadership Team

Chas Walker: CEO

Chas joined YMCA in October 2009 as Deputy Chief Executive. Following the merger with Guildford his job changed to Executive Director of Operations. He was appointed to the CEO role in July 2015 following the retirement of David Standing. Chas has a background in supported housing working for Southdown Housing Association in a frontline role and then Hyde Housing in a management capacity before joining YMCA.

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Anne Cairns: Director of Communities and Property Services

Anne joined YMCA DLG at the beginning of 2016.  She has a background in housing having worked previously for both Housing Associations and Local Authorities, including managing homelessness and allocations services at Eastbourne Borough Council, and housing management and maintenance services as Operations Director at Rother Homes.  In addition to the housing side, she had many interesting and challenging management opportunities including establishing new services, carrying out mergers and developing joint working partnerships.  In her current role she is responsible for housing related services, property development, improving community integration.

Rachel Brett

Rachel Brett: Director of Children and Young People's Services

Rachel joined YMCA in June 1999. She is a qualified social worker with extensive experience in both social work and youth and community work settings. She worked for YMCA Leicester before joining us. Rachel started as manager of our Youth Advice Centre and has had a number of senior management roles, she was appointed to her current role of Director of Communities in April 2015. She leads our Counselling and Therapeutic Services and specialist projects, and is our Designated Safeguarding Officer.

Ann Longhurst_edited-1Ann Longhurst: Head of Finance

After leaving university Ann joined the graduate training programme at Thomson Holidays in London.  She spent nine years with the company during which she trained as an accountant and had some great opportunities to travel.  Ann then joined Carewatch Care Services and spent eleven years as Financial Controller during a period of huge growth.   She returned to the travel industry working for the School Travel Group for a couple of years before joining the YMCA in January 2013.  She says, "I enjoy all the new challenges that working in a different sector brings and being a part of the invaluable service that the YMCA provides."

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Fiona Hall: Head of People

Fiona has worked at YMCA since 2008.  She qualified in HR in 1998 and worked in education and schools prior to joining the YMCA.  Prior to that she trained as a counsellor with Relate and she has a qualification in executive coaching.  She says, "I enjoy working at the YMCA because it brings me into contact with so many committed people who care about transforming the lives of children and  young people."

El Clarke

Eleanor Clarke: Head of Quality, Compliance and Participation

El Clarke’s background is in counselling, and was an honorary counsellor before returning to our YMCA in 2001 as the YAC Drop-in Co-ordinator, in Hove.  She worked there for over 10 years, overseeing numerous specialist contracts  that delivered support and advice services to vulnerable young people aged 13-25.  Over the last few years her interests and passion for service user involvement has led her in to her role as Head of Quality, Compliance and Participation.  She leads the Policy Forum and Compliance Group as well as working with young people and Trustees setting up our first Young People’s Board at YMCA DLG.

Angie Higgins

Angie Moon: Head of Property Services

Angie joined YMCA in September 2002 as a volunteer going on to progress to her current role of Head of Housing Management and Property Services. She has a background in retail management as well as housing and has qualifications in Social Science. Angie leads our housing management teams and is responsible for property management including rent collection, void management and maintenance.  Angie has successfully completed the CIH Level 4 Certificate for the Housing Profession.

Nicola Rowe_edited-1Nicola Rowe: Head of Communities - Sussex (South)

Nicola joined YMCA in January 2003. With a background in psychology she has worked previously with families and children as part of Social Services teams in London. Within YMCA DLG Nicola has held a number of roles including managing the Safe and Sorted project in East Brighton. Her current role involves leading our supported housing teams across the various projects within Sussex.  Nicola has successfully completed  the CIH Level 4 Certificate for the Housing Profession.

Steve Darken: Head of Communities - Sussex (North)

Steve joined YMCA in 2002 as a volunteer in Brighton whilst training to be a football coach. During his early years with YMCA DLG he graduated in Youth Work and has since worked in various roles for the organisation having seen the changes from Hove YMCA to Sussex Central YMCA and now YMCA DownsLink Group. Prior to this he worked for American Express Bank and as a Graphic Designer. Over the last two years he has led the development of our Housing Project in Guildford and is currently leading our Supported Housing teams across North Sussex.

Jamie GuestJamie Guest: Head of Learning

Jamie joined YMCA DLG in September 2016. He is a qualified teacher of secondary and 6th form GCSE and A Level, specialising in History and Politics. For the past 10 years, Jamie has been working in the Welfare to Work Sector, delivering employability programmes to mandated and voluntary customers with a wide range of barriers to work. He started as an Employment Advisor and progressed to Performance Manager, Regional Manager and Regional Director covering Sussex Surrey & Kent, Thames Valley, Hants and IOW, and London. Jamie is developing and growing a ‘Learning’ offer for the young people within our communities.

Mark Cull: Head of Young People's Services

Mark joined Hove YMCA back in 2002, following a corporate career as a retail branch manager for Barclays Bank. His first role was as a Housing Advice & Tenancy Support Worker, before becoming Tenancy Support Team Leader and then Senior Connexions PA. Due to Connexions funding ending Mark worked for Terrence Higgins Trust for 3 years as a Health Promotion Coordinator, delivering 1-1 sexual health and HIV prevention  interventions, peer support groups for people living with HIV and an HIV & STI testing clinic. In 2010 he returned to Sussex Central YMCA to set up and project manage Right Here, before becoming a services manager and now Head of Young People’s Services. Mark is keen for YMCA DLG to create more opportunities for the young people using our services and living in our accommodation projects, as well as increasing our engagement with young people in our local communities.

Sarah Weston: Head of Wellbeing & Therapeutic Services

Sarah started her career at Leicester YMCA in 1997 before moving to Brighton in 1999 where she worked for Brighton YMCA. In 2002 she began working in the substance misuse field with Worthing Churches Homeless project and then as Service Manager for Brighton Oasis Project. Sarah has also worked within NHS commissioning, predominately across West Sussex and covering urgent care services including commissioning and procurement of new services, contract and performance management and the integration of service development at a local and county level.  Sarah joined YMCA DLG in 2017.

Paul Napthine: Head of Operations YMCA Guildford

Paul started his career in the leisure services industry in 2000 in Essex after completing his degree. He soon moved back to his home town of Guildford to work at Guildford College with modern apprentices studying a range of subjects including mechanics, electrics and business development. Paul then moved into community development with a specific focus on rural communities. Before joining YMCA DownsLink Group in 2017 Paul worked at the UK wide Sports charity Sported, managing a range of national partnerships including Sport England, Deutsche Bank, Tennis Foundation and England Boxing. Paul’s current role with YMCA involves working with our team in Guildford to support residents and develop the YMCA’s offer within the wider community.