Meet the Team
Helen Dalton-Hare BEM
CEO & Founder
Helen founded About with Friends around her kitchen table in 2002 with nine initial members and a handful of volunteers. She served on the Board of Trustees until About with Friends became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in April this year. She continues to lead the organisation as CEO and attends Board meetings in this role. Helen is from London and worked in Social Services for over 30 years. As a youth worker, she ran the London Brent PHAB Club before joining Barnet Mencap to lead a project with people with Autism and behaviours that challenged, and then moved to Harrow Mencap to lead a project integrating children and adults with learning disabilities into the community. Helen relocated to Norfolk in 1996 and was the Paston College Community Outreach Lead for students with Disabilities before starting About with Friends. She received the British Empire Medal in 2014.
Held a brown belt in judo, and has an ambition to see the world.
Sam joined About with Friends in 2016 after spending 11 years working as a school administrator and working with young children. Although her title is Deputy CEO she does much more than that, from helping in our catering department on events to manning our charity shop. If help is needed Sam will always be the first to raise her hand.
After spending many years as a business development manager Jamie moved on to a career in Business Finance and progressed to the position of General Manager at Honda. In 2010 He decided to try something new and moved to Norfolk. Having enjoyed a fantastic time volunteering at AWF an opportunity came along to join our support staff team and he has worked his way up to his current position.
Alan Heads up our Wednesday club and works in our charity shop for our Workskills service but this is just the tip of the iceberg, he also helps in our youth and bespoke service, our adult social programme, as well as our supported living service!! Another busy week for Alan.
Senior Support Development Worker
After spending nearly ten years as a child care officer and teaching assistant, Amanda joined our Bespoke and Adult leisure services bringing with her a sense of fun and excitement to every event. Before working with children Amanda spent many years working as a travel agent and is now our Adult leisure holiday lead.
Andy trained in amenity horticulture at Easton College, he then was a self-employed gardener for a short while. Andy returned to Easton college as a horticultural technician, as part of this work he worked with a variety of client groups. He then moved on to a charity similar to About with Friends, gaining experience working with learning difficulties. After 13 years Andy was ready for a new challenge and an opportunity became available at About with Friends in the Youth and Bespoke area. Andy then transferred to the Workskills department when a position a lead gardener came up.
Bespoke Support Staff
Bev has come from a nursing back ground but re-trained as a teaching assistant. She then worked at Woodfields school and realised she had a love of working with young people with complex needs and so she applied to AWF and is now a key part of our Bespoke team.
Charity Shop Lead
Carmel had spent many successful years owning her own care home as well as a restaurant. She decided to take things a little easier and sold the restaurant and started volunteering for the Salvation Army charity shop, after 2 years there she took on our own charity shop in Cromer.
Outreach Senior Support Staff
Catherine joined us five years ago, starting as bank worker and is now Senior Support Worker in the outreach team. Previously Catherine had worked for different care companies working in residential care homes and supported living services. She puts her NVQ level 3 In Health and Social Care to very good use supporting our members.
After many years in commercial finance, David became our Finance Manager as well as keeping a tight hold of the Charities’ finances you will regularly find him helping out in our lunch club or delivering a buffet for our catering team. If the job involves money or food David won’t be far away.
Catering Support Staff
Studied BSC Nursing (Mental-Hea1th) at Anglia Ruskin University and gained a Higher Education Certificate in Applied Health Studies. Deciding to have a change of career he became the Commis Chef at a local fine dining eatery in Norfolk and was a volunteer at AWF in his spare time. But how could he combine his love of food with his passion for working with people with learning difficulties? Easy he joined our catering team and has been an inspiration to all the wonderful things they now produce.
Workskills Support Staff
After spending two years as a residential support worker for adults with challenging behaviour, she decided to develop her experience and knowledge of care and joined AWF as an apprentice. She is not only a key member of the team but is also working hard towards her level 3 in health and social care.
Deputy Adult Leisure Manager
After spending nearly ten years working with adults and young people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour across a range of different residential homes and day centres, Gina gained her level 3 diploma in Health and Social Care. She joined about with friends in 2015 as a support worker for work skills and progress to her current position of lead support worker for adult social activities which she loves doing and gets a great deal of satisfaction out of organising exciting events and days out for all our members to enjoy.
Hannah joined us from “Jeesal” as Deputy Workskills Manager, her vast experience in support care has had a positive effect on all areas of our service. With her extensive training in Mental Health-Autism and person centred planning, our service has gone from strength to strength with new ventures being added to our range of services regularly.
Catering Support Staff
As a support co-ordinator for Victory housing Jeanette provided a safe and caring environment for her residents. This caring approach is evident in the support she gives our members in our catering department from teaching them to make edible rose petals to making the wedding cake for our CEO she seems to bring a new skill to work every week.
After spending 20 yrs as a carer for her late husband, Julie continued to work as a home career. She gained experience of dementia patients while working at Halsey House Cromer. To further her knowledge and experience she joined AWF and finds daily inspiration from working with our members.
Adult Leisure Deputy Manager
After studying Media, Film, Photography and Drama at Paston College, Katie moved to London to study and received a BAHons in Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies. She later moved back to Norfolk working her way to duty and general manager at many different pubs and hotels around Norfolk.
Katie had always wanted to teach people with learning difficulties so made the leap to a change of career and started working at Hall School. Later moving onto Woodfields School and then About with Friends; starting as a Support Bespoke worker before her current role as Volunteer Co-Ordinator
Katie has had experience both in Health and Social care.
8 years working for the NHS as an Assistant practitioner after completing an FDSC in health and social science graduating in 2014 and 3 years working at Sidestrand Hall School as a residential childcare officer.
Katie is a true Yorkshire girl. She is very bubbly bringing lots of fun and positivity within her workplace.
After 12 years in Construction recruitment both in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire Laura took 5 years out to raise her 3 young children. After relocating back to Norfolk, she took a part time post with About with Friends as our HR Administrator, she is now an integral part of our strong back office team managing and overseeing our staff recruitment processes.
Lesley worked for Natwest Bank for 33 years before joining us, she worked locally in Holt, Sheringham and in the last 15 years, the Cromer Branch as a Customer Service Advisor. She currently lives in Cromer, is married and has a daughter, Bryony.
Acting Workskills Manager
Matt has many years experience working with adults with learning difficulties in farming, gardening, woodwork and IT. He enjoys a varied workload at About With Friends covering all aspects of Workskills, from gardening and catering to supporting our members in the events and presentation team.
Mel started at the beginning of the year and is really enjoying the job so far. In her own words ‘the team and the members have been friendly and welcoming and each day is so different from the next.’
She came from a background of horticultural therapy having ran garden centres staffed by adults with learning disabilities, and even had a period of time having fun doing garden makeovers for the BBC. In her earlier career she worked as a freelance photographer and stylist and as a learning support assistant at further education venues in these subjects.
For the last few years she has had administration jobs within the NHS and worked part time gardening, keeping her interest in horticulture going. She is thrilled to work alongside adults with learning disabilities again and has met some fantastic people.
Nicola has worked for most of her career in the voluntary sector including ten years as Marketing Officer at Break Charity, six years as Volunteer Co-ordinator at Priscilla Bacon Lodge Hospice and seven years as Administrator for the National Trust on the Isle of Wight. Nicola volunteered for AWF in an admin/fundraising role in 2016 and subsequently joined the staff team as Workskills Administrator in January 2017. She says she has worked alongside some amazing, inspiring people over the years – members, patients, families, carers and colleagues and feels very lucky to continue this at AWF.
Workskills Support Staff
Rob has brought with him over 20 years experience gained in the care industry from working with children in residential care to fostering in his own home. Rob has had a wide and diverse knowledge of care that he puts to great use everyday with our members in workskills.
With over 10 years experience in catering Sarah Joined us from a special needs school where she held the position of catering manager. She now works across the whole charity from preparing meals for our cafe customers to supporting our members in Work Skills.
Sue started volunteering over 9 years ago which soon led to her becoming our Volunteer Co-ordinator working hard to find other volunteers to join and support our members both in working situations and social fun experiences. Sue enjoys helping our members try new things, go to new places and grow in confidence making new friends along the way.
Gardening Support Staff
After spending many years in retail sales Tim joined AWF as a general bank support worker. During this time he soon built a strong rapport with our gardening members and when an opportunity came along to join our Gardening team full time he was our first choice.
Tom joined us from residential care but brought with him a vast range of skills and experience from his years as a teacher, to time he spent as a fine cabinet maker and boat builder. As Workskills support co-ordinator, Tom is here, there and everywhere, supporting our catering, café, gardening and production members and staff. In addition to all this he also leads on our basic Maths and English class for our members.