Statement of Purpose

VAL is a membership charity established in 1967 to support Lewisham charities, social enterprises, community groups, volunteers and activists to achieve positive change for the benefit of people in Lewisham. We provide:

  • Training, advice and support
  • A voice for communities in local decision making
  • A physical space for organisations to come together
  • A platform for people to volunteer across Lewisham

Our vision and mission

We want to see strong, vibrant communities that can take their place at the heart of every sphere of Lewisham life.

Our mission is to build a resilient voluntary and community and social enterprise sector that is responsive to the diverse needs of our local communities.

Team members

Tony NicksonTony Nickson, Director

Tony has more than 25 years’ experience in the voluntary, community, and public sectors, working to address disadvantage, poverty and social exclusion. He joined VAL as Director in October 2012, coming from frontline community engagement and development work with refugee and migrant community organisations.

Tony is responsible for the leadership and strategic development of VAL, with the support of the Board of Trustees.

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Rachel HenryRachel Henry, Connections Manager

Rachel has experience working with older people, refugees and survivors of trafficking and managed the Independent Living Services at Age UK Lewisham and Southwark before joining VAL in September 2017.

Rachel is responsible for leading the Connections team which includes the Specialist Advisers for Ambition and Development, the Community Development Worker for volunteering and the Policy and Communications Co-ordinator.

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Sophie ShoultsSophie Shoults, Business Development Manager

Sophie brings to the team over 10 years’ experience within the charity sector, a degree in English, great enthusiasm for efficiency and new technology, plus top-notch knitting skills.

Her role looks to the horizon for opportunities for income generation and building mutually beneficial relationships across the sector; and manages finance and admin support across the team, including events, HR and membership, keeping systems and staff running smoothly.

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Lillian BrownLillian Brown, Specialist Adviser – Ambition

Lillian has over 20 years’ experience working alongside a wide range of voluntary and community groups, providing training and development support to help them to establish, develop and run quality services.

Lillian supports organisations to become sound and sustainable foundations in a fast changing environment. She also leads on making the whole funding process more accessible, helping groups to identify the right funding mix for their setting. She also leads on facilitating collaborative or partnership bids, and heads up the Show your impact programme.

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Chis Wykes DriverChristine Wykes Driver, Specialist Adviser – Development

With a background in psychology and teaching, Chris has enjoyed a variety of roles in financial management, fundraising, volunteer management, training and development support. She brings to her new role previous experience as VAL’s community accountant, an Institute of Leadership & Management diploma in Social Enterprise Support, and over 25 years’ experience working in the voluntary sector.

Chris is a creative problem solver who enjoys finding new solutions to the challenges faced by small community groups, charities and social enterprises. Her role focuses on helping groups to achieve good financial management and governance through training and strategic support, as well as encouraging the growth of social enterprise.

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Aparna SapreAparna Sapre, Community Development Worker – Volunteering

Aparna has 8 years’ experience in the sector recruiting, training and managing volunteers and providing volunteer management and support to voluntary and community sector organisations in Lewisham and has worked on various projects at Volunteer Centre Lewisham before joining VAL in October 2017.

Aparna is responsible for supporting voluntary and community sector organisations with advice and support around volunteer recruitment and management and increasing the quality and quantity of volunteering in Lewisham; bringing people and community groups together.

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Mark DrinkwaterMark Drinkwater, Policy and Communications Coordinator

Mark has worked for Voluntary Action Lewisham for a total of five years. He is the Policy and Communications Coordinator. Previously he was the Health Inequalities and Social Care Officer. Outside of work Mark is a volunteer at two arts charities and also volunteers at his local weekly Parkrun.

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Vanathay NiranjanVanathay Niranjan, Finance and Administration Officer

Vani joined VAL in March 2015. She brings years of experience and knowledge of finance in diversified industries within the private sector. She is passionate about using her skills within the charity sector, and feels that joining VAL and being in charge of its financial activities is a great opportunity to satisfy her thirst for learning new skills.

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Tom MaherTom Maher, Premises Officer

As Premises Officer Tom is responsible for Health and Safety compliance, dealing with repairs and maintenance , and supporting users and hirers of The Mulberry Centre. Tom works part time with his core hours being 8am to 12pm.

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