Board of Trustees

Christine Doolan (Chair)

Since gaining a BSc degree in Pharmacy from the University of Aston in Birmingham in 1981, Christine has worked as a community pharmacist throughout the West Midlands region both in an employed and a self-employed capacity. Between 2001 and 2007 she was the Managing Director of a chain of retail pharmacies based in Birmingham. In 2009 she completed an MSc degree in Human Resource Management and Business at the Aston Business School. She currently works as a manager for a small pharmacy chain based in Solihull

Christine has sat as a Justice of the Peace on the Birmingham Bench for 20 years, is a member of the General Pharmaceutical Council and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and an associate of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Birmingham born, she has been married to Ed, a broadcaster and journalist, for nearly 30 years.

Cllr John Cotton

Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood, Management and Homes. John Cotton was first elected to Birmingham City Council in 1999 and is a Labour Councillor for the Shard End Ward, in the east of the city. He was appointed as the City Council’s first ever Cabinet Member for Social Cohesion and Equalities following the May 2012 local elections and is now the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood, Management and Homes.

John has been active in Birmingham’s political and civic life for over 20 years. Over the course of a varied career, he has worked in private industry, as assistant to a Labour MP and also in the voluntary sector. John is also a member of the Cooperative Party, the Fabian Society and Progress.

In his spare time, he is an enthusiastic if somewhat amateur rhythm guitarist, a passionate fan of live music and a voracious reader of history, sci-fi and thrillers.

As the Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Cohesion and Equalities, he is tasked with assuring that the City Council adopts a focused approach to “closing the gap” and ensure that we tackle the root causes of social and economic exclusion. In order to achieve these aims, he has been working with fellow Cabinet Members, City Council officers and partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors to develop a social cohesion strategy to make Birmingham a fairer and more cohesive city.

Dr Jo Ellins

Jo is a health policy and services researcher who has worked across the public, private and charitable sectors. She is passionate about improving patients’ and families’ experiences of healthcare services and people having a stronger voice not only in their own health and care, but also in the design and delivery of local services.

Jo is not just interested in user and community voice as a topic of research; she seeks to carry out her own work in collaboration with service users and local communities wherever possible. In a recent project, she worked in partnership with more than 20 older people to ‘co-research’ older people’s lived experiences of care transitions and their ongoing support needs. Her research partners included older people from Leicester’s South Asian community and older people who had early stage dementia. She is a member of INVOLVE, the national organisation that promotes and supports service user and public involvement in NHS and social care research.

Jo also has extensive experience of assessing the impact of programmes and services in healthcare, including measuring wider social and economic benefits. She has managed several large-scale projects and the teams and budgets that are needed to deliver these. When not working, she enjoys yoga, theatre and long countryside walks (but not all at the same time).

John Parr MBE

John has been connected with Birmingham Settlement since 1956. First as a Meals on Wheels volunteer then, involved in youth work and advisory work and committees. He had an office here for seven years and his family were residents for two. He became a member of the main Management Committees, including periods as chairman of the Research and Development Committee and the Finance Committee. Several pioneering ventures were established notably environmental events and a music studio for young people during this time.

John retired from professional employment, but continued as Director of the Board of the Settlement and on the Operations Sub-Committee and its successors. John brings a widespread knowledge to the board and represents the tradition of the Settlement and safeguards its ethos.

Amanda Openshaw

Amanda Openshaw recently joined Birmingham Settlement as a trustee and brings with her a wealth of knowledge. Amanda completed a BA in International Business at Manchester Metropolitan University and has worked for Zurich Insurance plc for nearly 10 years. Having started as an Operations Analyst Amanda has quickly moved through the organisation and is now currently an Underwriting and Service Manager in the Birmingham office. Amanda is committed to supporting local charities and encouraging Corporate Social Responsibility activities within Zurich Insurance plc. Having been a member of Zurich Cares Charity Committee since joining Zurich, Amanda has is regularly involved in fundraising activities, skills shares and charity challenges to support this work.

Prof Ken Spencer OBE

Emeritus Professor Ken Spencer OBE, FRGS, worked at Birmingham University for 38 years specialising in Public Policy. He has extensive experience of research, publication, learning, teaching and management in university and in public sector work environments. Staffing and budget responsibilities went with a range of his roles, including Head of Department, Head of School and Dean. Most of his teaching has been at Post-Graduate and Post-Experience levels. He has worked on many projects overseas including, more recently, Turkey, Japan (role of voluntary sector), Australia and USA (public service contracting), the European Union (as the UK member of grant allocation and review committees of the Regional Policy and Cohesion Directorate). In 2008 he was awarded the OBE for services to Education and to the Community in Birmingham. In relation to the latter he served as trustee of various Housing Associations over a 35 year period, including Chairs of Resources, Audit, Policy, Sandwell and Birmingham. He also was invited to serve on Black Led Housing Associations operating in north Birmingham. John was also Birmingham Settlement Chair from 2006 to 2009.

Dr Mervyn Jayakody

Dr Mervyn Jayakody has an extensive academic background having completed a PhD at the University of Birmingham, an MA in Industrial Development from the University of East Anglia, and a degree in Geography and Post Graduate Diploma in Economic Development from universities in Sri Lanka. Dr Jayakody is currently a Socio Economic Community Researcher for Bostock Marketing Group through which he is responsible for managing and conducting surveys across the UK on business opportunities, housing, education, health, environment and local authority services. During his PhD Dr Jayakody also worked for the University of Birmingham as a Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant. Prior to this he was working for the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka as a Manager for Foreign Investment Promotion.

Dr Mervyn is currently a Co-researcher of the evaluation team of ‘Brightlife-Ageing Better’ project in Cheshire West and Chester. It is a Big Lottery funded five-year project to explore the ways of preventing and reducing loneliness and social isolation among the adults over 5os. The Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Chester carries out the evaluation for ‘Brightlife’.

Amandeep Singh Dhillon

Amandeep Dhillon has an extensive legal background. Having completed a degree at the University of Birmingham and studied at the College of Law, Birmingham, Amandeep currently works for Irwin Mitchell Solicitors as an Associate Solicitor for the International Travel Litigation Department. Here he leads a team of 20, overseeing a large caseload and high profile actions. Prior to this Amandeep worked for CTS Solicitors as a Litigation Team Leader and Trainee Solicitor where he founded the litigation department, building the team up from a team of one to a team of eight.

Amandeep has a keen interest in sports, being involved in a number of sports including basketball and football. He is also a member of MENSA and has a keen interest in history.

Sandra Cooke

Sandra is the Director of Partnerships in the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, a research centre based in the School of Education at the University of Birmingham. Her current research is exploring the place of character in marginalised young people. She teaches on the BA Education Studies and supervises Doctoral students.  Previously she worked on a range of projects including the role education may play in changing workplace culture and practices.

With a background in education policy she has worked on numerous projects with local schools and higher education practitioners. She was Lead Researcher on the Four Cities project examining young people’s attitudes to Post-Compulsory education in Hodge Hill, in Birmingham. These all focus on her primary interest – addressing educational inequalities.

Prior to moving into academia, Sandra was Head of Widening Participation at the University of Birmingham. She also worked as Senior Education Policy Officer at NASUWT, requiring representation at senior levels. She has a BA in Public Administration, an MA in Policy Studies, and a PhD in the learning experiences of diverse students in higher education. In her ‘spare’ time, Sandra enjoys hill walking and spending time with her family.




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