People leading aspiring lives

About us

Active Prospects is a charitable organisation enabling over 200 people with learning disabilities, physical and mental health needs, and autistic people each year to live full and aspiring lives.

We employ 450 staff across residential, supported living and services that enable employment across the South-East.

  • We are leaders in creating bespoke homes and support to enable people with complex needs to leave institutional settings.
  • We are also specialists in facilitating people-led co-production, and working with partner organisations to address health inequalities.

In 2023 we were rated as the top large care employer in the UK in the Great Places to Work survey – based on the feedback of our own staff, benchmarked against other employers across the country. We were also highlighted for our approaches to employee wellbeing, and to supporting women in the workplace.

Our Vision

Our mission is to enable people with learning disabilities, physical and mental health needs and autistic people to live full and aspiring lives.

Our vision is for Active Prospects to become regionally and nationally impactful for working with people to deliver equity in health and wellbeing.

Active values in everything we do

The voice of people we support is at the heart of our organisation. We shape our services according to the needs and views of our tenants and people we support.

  • We fully embrace our purpose of enabling people to lead aspiring lives
  • We enable ambitious, ordinary and extraordinary goals with people, and a life without limits
  • We listen to what is important and what matters to people
  • We always aim to do our best
  • We show initiative and creativity
  • We continually look for ways of improving
  • We take responsibility for our own learning
  • We maintain a positive, ‘can-do’ attitude and look for solutions
  • We reflect on our performance and ask for feedback to help us learn and improve
  • We seek to learn from others and from the best out there
  • We put the aspirations, interests and wishes of the people we support at the centre of everything
  • We care about the safety, health and wellbeing of people and our colleagues
  • We are non-judgemental and look at the positive and potential in people
  • We listen to, and value, people’s lived experiences and use this to inform our approaches
  • We are compassionate, kind and empathetic
  • We willingly offer help and support others
  • We are aware of how our behaviour can be interpreted and impactful on others and take action to adapt
  • We take responsibility for our own actions and performance
  • We are always honest and transparent
  • We keep up to date with communications, policies, procedures and other requirements
  • We can be relied on to deliver tasks in line with quality standards, policies and procedures, in a timely way
  • We arrive punctually for work, meetings and other events
  • We inform managers of work-related issues or concerns in a timely manner
  • We own up to mistakes and do not seek to blame others, but to reflect and learn
  • We ask for help or seek guidance when appropriate
  • We recognise and support inclusion, equity, and diversity, in everything we do
  • We acknowledge and challenge our own bias and privilege, and challenge discrimination
  • We act inclusively so everyone is involved and has a say
  • We make changes and adapt to deliver fair and equitable outcomes
  • We seek to listen to others’ diverse experiences so that we understand better
  • We fully consider cultural and diverse profiles in service delivery and our teamwork with colleagues, and we are respectful and value difference
  • We seek ways of connecting with diversity in our community
  • We actively shape services with people
  • We consider co-production in all activity at all levels, with people having a real say
  • We enable people to have choice and control in all they do
  • We promote the rights of people to live a good life with equitable health and wellbeing outcomes
  • We speak up when something is wrong
  • We champion the voices of people’s lived experience to inform service delivery
  • We adapt our communication and service accessibility to meet the needs of people
  • We enable advocacy for people, to ensure their rights and choices are supported
  • We carefully use our resources in the best possible way to deliver our charitable objectives
  • We work with, and invest in, people and our communities, adding value
  • We consider the sustainability of everything we do, and seek to contribute to reduce negative environmental impact
  • We act with the interests of our people at the centre in all we do
  • We always fully uphold our codes of conduct and governance
  • We adhere to the moral principles of public service and working for a charity

Our history

We were founded in 1989 as Prospect Housing Association, managing former NHS Learning Disability services that had been developed in community settings. For the first 25 years, we mainly operated as a care provider in housing association or private rented properties in Surrey. We also had a small number of our own supported living properties transferred from the NHS. In 2005, we became Prospect Housing and Support Services.

We set up the Pro-Active Community in 2015. This is a user-led organisation of people we support. In 2020, the Pro-Active Community became an independent charity registered with the Charity Commission.

Then, in 2016, we became Active Prospects. This name reflected a more proactive approach, with a new strategy and service offer.

In 2020, we opened our first West Sussex service, in Three Bridges near Crawley.

We have transformed our organisation to become Surrey’s leading Transforming Care provider. We have supported nearly 50 people with complex needs to move from long-term hospital settings to their own homes in the community.

We are commissioned primarily by Surrey County Council, but also by West Sussex County Council and several London Boroughs; health trusts; as well as people paying directly for services.

Meet our governing board

We are led by a voluntary Management Board which meets quarterly. They are supported by a number of sub-committees covering quality, audit and risk, business development, people and remuneration.

Our Board takes overall responsibility for how Active Prospects is run. They decide on policies and strategic direction, monitor performance and approve our annual budgets and accounts.

Chris Poole
Chris Poole Chair of the Board

Chris Poole joined Active Prospects as Chair of the Board in September 2022. Chris is Director of Business Development for national care provider Sanctuary Care, with responsibility for sales, marketing, contracts, business transformation, strategy, development, and the commissioning of new care homes. Chris joined Sanctuary in 2017 with previous experience in adult social care with both for-profit and not-for-profit providers. Having previously worked in a number of other sectors including international development, marketing, sales and engineering management he brings a breadth of experience to Active Prospects’ Board.

Owen Vallis
Owen Vallis

Owen Vallis has spent over ten years as a risk management expert in the financial services sector. During that time, Owen has held positions at a number of major financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, and is currently UK Head of Fiduciary Risk Management for Credit Suisse. Owen also serves as a Non-executive member of the Audit and Risk Committee for the Children’s Commissioner’s Office. Owen chairs our Business Development Committee.

Dr Dumindu Witharana
Dr Dumindu Witharana

Dumindu qualified as a medical doctor from University of Colombo and completed postgraduate studies at University of Oxford. He trained as a psychiatrist in Oxford and London and has worked across both NHS and independent sector as a psychiatrist for the last 20 years. He is a specialist advisor to the Care Quality Commission and a clinical advisor to the General Pharmaceutical Council. Dumindu has a special interest in patient safety and quality in clinical care. He is a member of the patient safety expert working group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) and has contributed to number of high impact publications around patient safety in clinical practice. He currently works as a consultant forensic psychiatrist for Cygnet Healthcare.

Andy Cross
Andy Cross

Andy is an experienced Consultant, Facilitator and Executive Team Coach with a track record of working with leaders to achieve the transformational change necessary to deliver growth, high employee engagement and improved customer experience. A successful leader of large, international and matrix teams, across a wide range of sectors including telecommunications, transport and financial services, with experience of world class organisations such as Virgin Atlantic and BT. Andy chairs our People & Remuneration Committee.

Sarah Coomes
Sarah Coomes

Having qualified as a chartered accountant in 2002, Sarah has almost 20 years of experience working in a number of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, with a track record of delivering during fast-changing and complex corporate situations. More recently, this has included senior leadership roles in investor relations and strategy, providing support and advice to the executive board team. Sarah chairs our Finance Audit & Risk Committee

Peter Frackiewicz
Peter Frackiewicz

Peter has been a Chartered Surveyor for over 35 years working for leading property investment and development companies. Delivering major commercial projects throughout the UK but mainly specialising in London. He has recently retired and holds a few Directorships including Trustee for LHA London Ltd, who provide affordable accommodation for young people and Land Securities Pensions Trustee Ltd, where he was chair for 8 years.

Ian Lewis
Ian Lewis

Ian qualified as a social worker in 1988. He has worked across a number of London authorities, mainly in the fields of looked after children, fostering and adoption. He spent a number of years working as a senior leader in Children’s Social Care. For the past year, Ian has been working as an independent social work consultant. He has a part time role as National Children’s Services Adviser for Child Mental Health, working in NHS England.

Raj Thakrar
Raj Thakrar

Raj has over 30 years of experience in IT across a variety of industries, both public and private. Currently working as a Senior advisor to growth stage start-ups scaling internationally into the UK & Europe, providing product development advice and project management expertise. Raj spent the last 15 years as Head of IT for global organisations, working in the US, Africa & UAE. He has a successful track record in delivering strategy, companywide transformation and global projects.

Amanda Clements
Amanda Clements

Amanda has a professional background in Education and Training. She has worked in a variety of educational and professional settings including; Adult, Community, Further, and Higher Education. She specialises in working with marginalised and under-represented learners and currently works in the charity/not-for-profit sectors providing advice, consultancy, and mentoring. Since 2018 she has worked closely with Initiatives of Change UK, supporting the Refugees as Rebuilders Faculty in designing and developing an innovative and progressive curriculum for settled refugees. She also co-ordinates IofC’s Womens’ Empowerment Network and is a Trustee for CoDa; a dance company providing tuition and choreography to people with neuro-disabilities.

Debbie Epstein
Debbie Epstein

Debbie has spent her career largely in entrepreneurial companies building brands, developing teams, creating new products, and implementing new processes. She has been Marketing Director for a number of challenger brands including Ella’s Kitchen where she was charged with “growing up the brand” and taking it to the next level, and Bounce where the challenge was raising awareness and driving trial. In her spare time, she volunteered for Surrey Youth Justice and was a Governor of St Ives, the local prep school.

Felicity Walker
Felicity Walker

Felicity has spent her career in the defence, digital transformation, financial services and Government sectors, with experience in listed, not-for-profit, boutique and Government organisations. She has held a broad range of roles in Australia, Singapore and the UK, across business development and strategy, operations, organisational transformation, public affairs and communications, and in general management.

Chris Gilmour
Chris Gilmour

Chris is a co-founder of Tigerbond, one of the UK’s leading integrated communications consultancies.

A law graduate and former journalist with The Sun, he provides counsel and strategic communications advice to a wide range of organisations across the third, public and private sectors.

He is a passionate ally in supporting disabled people to have full equality of opportunity and participation as citizens, and has served as a Trustee of Capability Scotland for several years. Chris also spent almost a decade as a main board member and Trustee of Young Enterprise Scotland.

Chris Poole
Chris Poole Chair of the Board

Chris Poole joined Active Prospects as Chair of the Board in September 2022. Chris is Director of Business Development for national care provider Sanctuary Care, with responsibility for sales, marketing, contracts, business transformation, strategy, development, and the commissioning of new care homes. Chris joined Sanctuary in 2017 with previous experience in adult social care with both for-profit and not-for-profit providers. Having previously worked in a number of other sectors including international development, marketing, sales and engineering management he brings a breadth of experience to Active Prospects’ Board.

Owen Vallis
Owen Vallis

Owen Vallis has spent over ten years as a risk management expert in the financial services sector. During that time, Owen has held positions at a number of major financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, and is currently UK Head of Fiduciary Risk Management for Credit Suisse. Owen also serves as a Non-executive member of the Audit and Risk Committee for the Children’s Commissioner’s Office. Owen chairs our Business Development Committee.

Dr Dumindu Witharana
Dr Dumindu Witharana

Dumindu qualified as a medical doctor from University of Colombo and completed postgraduate studies at University of Oxford. He trained as a psychiatrist in Oxford and London and has worked across both NHS and independent sector as a psychiatrist for the last 20 years. He is a specialist advisor to the Care Quality Commission and a clinical advisor to the General Pharmaceutical Council. Dumindu has a special interest in patient safety and quality in clinical care. He is a member of the patient safety expert working group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) and has contributed to number of high impact publications around patient safety in clinical practice. He currently works as a consultant forensic psychiatrist for Cygnet Healthcare.

Andy Cross
Andy Cross

Andy is an experienced Consultant, Facilitator and Executive Team Coach with a track record of working with leaders to achieve the transformational change necessary to deliver growth, high employee engagement and improved customer experience. A successful leader of large, international and matrix teams, across a wide range of sectors including telecommunications, transport and financial services, with experience of world class organisations such as Virgin Atlantic and BT. Andy chairs our People & Remuneration Committee.

Sarah Coomes
Sarah Coomes

Having qualified as a chartered accountant in 2002, Sarah has almost 20 years of experience working in a number of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, with a track record of delivering during fast-changing and complex corporate situations. More recently, this has included senior leadership roles in investor relations and strategy, providing support and advice to the executive board team. Sarah chairs our Finance Audit & Risk Committee

Peter Frackiewicz
Peter Frackiewicz

Peter has been a Chartered Surveyor for over 35 years working for leading property investment and development companies. Delivering major commercial projects throughout the UK but mainly specialising in London. He has recently retired and holds a few Directorships including Trustee for LHA London Ltd, who provide affordable accommodation for young people and Land Securities Pensions Trustee Ltd, where he was chair for 8 years.

Ian Lewis
Ian Lewis

Ian qualified as a social worker in 1988. He has worked across a number of London authorities, mainly in the fields of looked after children, fostering and adoption. He spent a number of years working as a senior leader in Children’s Social Care. For the past year, Ian has been working as an independent social work consultant. He has a part time role as National Children’s Services Adviser for Child Mental Health, working in NHS England.

Raj Thakrar
Raj Thakrar

Raj has over 30 years of experience in IT across a variety of industries, both public and private. Currently working as a Senior advisor to growth stage start-ups scaling internationally into the UK & Europe, providing product development advice and project management expertise. Raj spent the last 15 years as Head of IT for global organisations, working in the US, Africa & UAE. He has a successful track record in delivering strategy, companywide transformation and global projects.

Amanda Clements
Amanda Clements

Amanda has a professional background in Education and Training. She has worked in a variety of educational and professional settings including; Adult, Community, Further, and Higher Education. She specialises in working with marginalised and under-represented learners and currently works in the charity/not-for-profit sectors providing advice, consultancy, and mentoring. Since 2018 she has worked closely with Initiatives of Change UK, supporting the Refugees as Rebuilders Faculty in designing and developing an innovative and progressive curriculum for settled refugees. She also co-ordinates IofC’s Womens’ Empowerment Network and is a Trustee for CoDa; a dance company providing tuition and choreography to people with neuro-disabilities.

Debbie Epstein
Debbie Epstein

Debbie has spent her career largely in entrepreneurial companies building brands, developing teams, creating new products, and implementing new processes. She has been Marketing Director for a number of challenger brands including Ella’s Kitchen where she was charged with “growing up the brand” and taking it to the next level, and Bounce where the challenge was raising awareness and driving trial. In her spare time, she volunteered for Surrey Youth Justice and was a Governor of St Ives, the local prep school.

Felicity Walker
Felicity Walker

Felicity has spent her career in the defence, digital transformation, financial services and Government sectors, with experience in listed, not-for-profit, boutique and Government organisations. She has held a broad range of roles in Australia, Singapore and the UK, across business development and strategy, operations, organisational transformation, public affairs and communications, and in general management.

Chris Gilmour
Chris Gilmour

Chris is a co-founder of Tigerbond, one of the UK’s leading integrated communications consultancies.

A law graduate and former journalist with The Sun, he provides counsel and strategic communications advice to a wide range of organisations across the third, public and private sectors.

He is a passionate ally in supporting disabled people to have full equality of opportunity and participation as citizens, and has served as a Trustee of Capability Scotland for several years. Chris also spent almost a decade as a main board member and Trustee of Young Enterprise Scotland.


Meet our senior team

Maria Mills

Chief Executive

Maria Mills

Joined as the CEO in October 2015. She has an extensive background in the social care and health sectors, having worked in senior positions for a number of national charities and social enterprises, as well more local organisations. She brings with her a deep commitment to enabling people we support to shape their organisations, developing partnerships to provide integrated approaches to meeting needs and looks to create a deeper impact for our people and communities.

Jade Vallance

Director of Care

Jade Vallance

Jade has worked for a number of charities and large national organisations providing support to people with learning disabilities and mental health needs. Joined Active Prospects in 2013 as the Service Manager for Domiciliary Care and in October 2015 became Head of Care, then Director of Care in 2017. Over 20 years’ experience in direct management in care and support and specialises in challenging needs and autism. Qualified in 2004 as a registered care manager undertaking RMA and Level 4 Diploma In Care and in 2009 qualified as a conflict manager and resolution teacher.

Joel Hartfield

Director of Business Development

Joel Hartfield

Joel has a keen focus on building new partnerships to provide greater opportunities for the people who Active Prospects support. Joel joined Active Prospects in September 2019. He started his career in a frontline role at a homelessness charity in London, before spending nine years in a variety of senior commissioning, policy and partnership roles in local authorities. In 2014, Joel moved back into the not-for-profit sector as the lead for Business Development and Communications at a social care and health provider.

Kaushika Patel

Director of People & Recruitment

Kaushika Patel

Kaushika is passionate about the people we support and has a focus to increase our engagement, enabling people to reach their potential. Kaushika joined Active Prospects in June 2019 with extensive operational and strategic experience in HR across many sectors, including social care and the health care sector. She is a commercially focused Senior HR professional who is skilled in employee relations, employment law and delivery of strategic HR projects. Kaushika is known for her integrity, compassion and strong work ethic with an ability to deliver. She is an experienced people manager, who strives to embrace Active Prospects’ values within herself and others.

Tami-Mari Dalthwaite

Finance Director

Tami-Mari Dalthwaite
Shad Khan

Director of Property

Shad Khan

Shad joined Active Prospects in May 2023 as a Director of Property. He has over 10 years of property/facilities management experience. In his previous role he worked as a Managing Director of a property services company in the health social care sector. He was responsible for delivering strategic business objectives, managing facility operations, overseeing building maintenance services & capital development projects, sustainability planning and implementing H&S practices. Shad has a customer-centric approach and committed to lead the property team by fostering a culture of excellent, innovation and ensuring our housing stock is of high quality, sustainable and energy efficient.

Maria Mills

Chief Executive

Maria Mills

Joined as the CEO in October 2015. She has an extensive background in the social care and health sectors, having worked in senior positions for a number of national charities and social enterprises, as well more local organisations. She brings with her a deep commitment to enabling people we support to shape their organisations, developing partnerships to provide integrated approaches to meeting needs and looks to create a deeper impact for our people and communities.

Jade Vallance

Director of Care

Jade Vallance

Jade has worked for a number of charities and large national organisations providing support to people with learning disabilities and mental health needs. Joined Active Prospects in 2013 as the Service Manager for Domiciliary Care and in October 2015 became Head of Care, then Director of Care in 2017. Over 20 years’ experience in direct management in care and support and specialises in challenging needs and autism. Qualified in 2004 as a registered care manager undertaking RMA and Level 4 Diploma In Care and in 2009 qualified as a conflict manager and resolution teacher.

Joel Hartfield

Director of Business Development

Joel Hartfield

Joel has a keen focus on building new partnerships to provide greater opportunities for the people who Active Prospects support. Joel joined Active Prospects in September 2019. He started his career in a frontline role at a homelessness charity in London, before spending nine years in a variety of senior commissioning, policy and partnership roles in local authorities. In 2014, Joel moved back into the not-for-profit sector as the lead for Business Development and Communications at a social care and health provider.

Kaushika Patel

Director of People & Recruitment

Kaushika Patel

Kaushika is passionate about the people we support and has a focus to increase our engagement, enabling people to reach their potential. Kaushika joined Active Prospects in June 2019 with extensive operational and strategic experience in HR across many sectors, including social care and the health care sector. She is a commercially focused Senior HR professional who is skilled in employee relations, employment law and delivery of strategic HR projects. Kaushika is known for her integrity, compassion and strong work ethic with an ability to deliver. She is an experienced people manager, who strives to embrace Active Prospects’ values within herself and others.

Tami-Mari Dalthwaite

Finance Director

Tami-Mari Dalthwaite
Shad Khan

Director of Property

Shad Khan

Shad joined Active Prospects in May 2023 as a Director of Property. He has over 10 years of property/facilities management experience. In his previous role he worked as a Managing Director of a property services company in the health social care sector. He was responsible for delivering strategic business objectives, managing facility operations, overseeing building maintenance services & capital development projects, sustainability planning and implementing H&S practices. Shad has a customer-centric approach and committed to lead the property team by fostering a culture of excellent, innovation and ensuring our housing stock is of high quality, sustainable and energy efficient.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

Active Prospects is committed to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in its operations and community impact. Our DEIB strategy, We Belong, for 2024-2027 builds on our initial efforts and outlines an ambitious path forward.

Key Achievements and Progress:

  • Mandatory DEIB training for all employees.
  • Enhanced diversity within our leadership, with significant representation from female and minority ethnic groups.
  • Regular reporting on diversity metrics including an annual Diversity Pay Gap report.
  • External mentorship programmes and accreditations like the Employers Disability Confident – Leader status.

Goals and Initiatives:

  • Continue promoting a culture where diversity is valued, fulfilling legal and ethical duties as outlined in the Equality Act 2010.
  • Tackle biased thinking and integrate best practices in all organisational activities.
  • Improve governance to ensure DEIB principles are deeply embedded in our leadership and operational strategies.

Staff and Organisational Focus:

  • Promote an inclusive culture through enhanced recruitment, retention, and promotion practices, especially for underrepresented groups.
  • Leadership development and training programmes are prioritised to maintain an inclusive organisational culture.
  • Regular review of DEIB implications in all organisational workflows.

Properties and Environments:

  • Adapt properties to be more accessible, targeting significant improvements in mobility access and accommodation for people with disabilities.

Community and Stakeholder Engagement:

  • Promote inclusivity and co-production with the communities we support, ensuring their needs and voices are integral to our operations and services.
  • Engage in local and national initiatives to combat discrimination and support diverse communities.

This strategy not only reflects our commitment to DEIB but also our proactive approach to shaping an inclusive environment where all individuals can thrive

 

Annual impact reports and other downloads

Legacy Guide

A guide for leaving a gift

Impact Report 2023

Active Prospects Impact Report 2023

Innovation

Whole System Approach to Obesity
Whole System Approach to Obesity

Active Prospects have been working with people with lived experience and system leaders to develop a Whole System

Active Living – activities for all abilities
Active Living – activities for all abilities

Active Living is the Active Prospects events and activities program for the people we support.  In the last

Assistive technology is bringing the world to people at home
Assistive technology is bringing the world to people at home

People we support have the world at their fingertips thanks to our investment in cutting edge assistive technology.

Active Prospects to lead new initiative to tackle obesity
Active Prospects to lead new initiative to tackle obesity

Active Prospects has been awarded funding by Surrey County Council to lead a healthcare programme to tackle obesity

Support our work

There are many ways you can support our work by donating or raising funds for Active Prospects. By donating, you’ll be helping us to continue to keep some of the most vulnerable people in society safe and well.

Sharon Leonard honoured at Buckingham Palace Garden Party for four decades of commitment to care
Sharon Leonard honoured at Buckingham Palace Garden Party for four decades of commitment to care

Sharon Leonard was recognised this week by the Queen for her forty years of dedicated service to Active

Active Prospects launches ambitious Strategic Plan for 2024-2027
Active Prospects launches ambitious Strategic Plan for 2024-2027

Active Prospect proudly announces the launch of its Strategic Plan for 2024-2027. With a bold vision to achieve

Celebrating Social Prescribing: Expanding our support
Celebrating Social Prescribing: Expanding our support

Within healthcare, the concept of social prescribing has been gaining momentum as an innovative approach to wellbeing. Marked

New service to open in Horsham, offering tailored support for those with complex health needs 
New service to open in Horsham, offering tailored support for those with complex health needs 

Active Prospects is excited to announce construction work is underway on a brand-new service in Horsham.   The new

Active Prospects’ Big Feedback: Empowering Aspiring Lives
Active Prospects’ Big Feedback: Empowering Aspiring Lives

At Active Prospects, our commitment to transparency, communication, and continuous improvement is at the core of our mission.

More than 150 autistic people in Surrey with a mental health need will benefit from an innovative project led by Active Prospects
More than 150 autistic people in Surrey with a mental health need will benefit from an innovative project led by Active Prospects

The project has been funded by a grant from Surrey County Council’s Mental Health Investment Fund, which was

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