Board of Trustees

Peter Brooks (Chair)

Peter is Head of Behavioural Finance at Barclays Wealth and represents Barclays on the Money Advice Service Financial Capability Working Groups. Peter has a wealth of experience and understanding of people’s capability and behaviours in relation to finances and is an advocate for creating confident and informed financial decision makers through intelligent design and increased financial capability.

Cllr John Cotton

John Cotton was first elected to Birmingham City Council in 1999 and represents the Glebe Farm and Tile Cross Ward in the east of the city. He has served as the Cabinet member for Housing and Health, leading a new-build council housing programme that delivered a record number of new council homes; laying the foundations for better integration of health and social care; and coordinating the City’s response to changes to the welfare system. John is passionate about tackling inequality and empowering local communities.

He currently chairs the Councils Co-ordinating Scrutiny Committee, which acts as the Council’s ‘watchdog’ on matters of corporate governance and performance. Over the course of a varied career, he has worked in private industry, as assistant to a Labour MP, in the voluntary sector and as a freelance consultant.


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’.

George Sabharwal

George was born in Birmingham, 1963, educated to O levels. In 1979 George started working full-time for the family business, which was later on sold in 1987. George joined Tesco as a shelf filler on nights as a Christmas temp and was offered a permanent role, he worked for Tesco for 31 years. During that time, George was promoted to store manager in 1998 where he managed 15 stores over a 20-year period, mainly in the Midlands including 5 in the inner city of Birmingham.

George took an early retirement in April 2018 and was hoping to put something back into the community that met his values. George was introduced to Birmingham Settlement which he believes to be a forward thinking organisation and hopes he can add value.

Manisha Sharma

Manisha has a BSc in Pharmacy from De Montfort University and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Birmingham. Manisha works within the health and social care sector and is currently a Local Practice Forum (LPF) member acting as Communications lead for the LPF. Manisha has a wealth of experience of leading local practice forums and working with a range of health commissioners to ensure local and national priorities are attained.

Matthew Gregson 

Matthew is a partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP and heads the firm’s Employment and Pensions Department. With a wealth of knowledge in employment law issues, Matthew advises charities, housing associations, care providers and third sector organisations at a strategic and operational level.

From 2010 to 2018 Matthew served as an Elected Member at Birmingham City Council sitting on committees such as the Governance and Scrutiny Resources Committee and the Trust and Charities Committee which manages charitable funds. From 2014 to 2017 Matthew was the Company Secretary at a global charity providing care for the elderly, The Abbeyfield Society, which contributed to his growing expertise in advising on governance issues and he has also been a trustee of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).


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