A world where people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages are treated as equal partners in decisions made about their lives.
To inspire, support and champion co-production, with the voices of people with lived experience at our heart
To amplify the voices and share the experiences of people marginalised by severe and multiple disadvantage, to influence national and local policy, and to provide smart solutions to make support services better.
We believe in humanity and the potential of all people. When we come from a place of honesty, we can create the change that we want to see and bring hope into our world.
Many people with lived experience of multiple disadvantage do not have a voice in decision made about their lives. To address this problem, our Founder contacted over 4,700 people with lived experience to find out what they would want from a representative organisation.
Using this evidence, a panel was formed to advise, guide and support the organisation’s formation. The panel was made up from those with lived experience of multiple disadvantage from across the country with a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds.
Together we determined the purpose and values of the organisation, identified skills and talents, nurtured individual’s leadership skills, and developed the Governance arrangements and policies needed to become a charity.
Members were supported to sit on our Board of Governors, with further recruitment resulting in a Board with 90% of its members having lived experience of multiple disadvantage.
Together we have developed and delivered upon a funding strategy, developed our network to over 1,400 contacts, and work to influence national and local policy, including being represented on the Government’s Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel.
Founder and Head of Expert Link
Passionate and inspiring
David Ford has overcome the challenges of childhood trauma, substance addiction, mental illness and homelessness, as well as having been on active service while a member of the armed forces. David is a trustee of the London based homeless charity Thames Reach, sits on the Governments Rough Sleepers Advisory Panel, and sat on the Steering Group of CR Zero 2020, part of the European End Street Homelessness Campaign. David is a regular speaker at local and national events and in 2018 joined thirty of the most active cultivators of the international field of systems change for a 3 day retreat on Wasan Island, Canada. David has trained over 1000 people, including Government officials, local authority commissioners and people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages to deliver co-production in their areas and services. David has contributed to a number of research projects including co-authoring Hard Edges: Mapping Severe and Multiple Disadvantage in England, and regularly conducts peer research training including work in Kensington and Chelsea, Blackpool, Leeds and Middlesbrough.
Policy and Communications Manager
Positive and inclusive
Chris Brill leads the policy and research work of Expert Link, including influencing outputs (e.g. from the MHCLG Experts By Experience Group and our National Advisory Panel and Welfare Change Lived Experience Panel), and delivering research contracts (e.g. Housing Issues in RKBC and the Evaluation of Blackpool Fulfilling Lives Service). He has led research projects at the Equality Challenge Unit, including Understanding Adjustments: supporting staff and students experiencing mental health difficulties and Religion and belief in higher education: the experience of staff and students. Chris has worked on policy and research projects at Expert Link, Homeless Link and the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM). Chris has a degree in Mathematics (inc. Advanced Statistical Analysis) and Masters in Philosophy, Contemporary European Philosophy, and Public Policy and Management (inc. Issues and Methods in Social Research).
Joe currently works at Lankelly Chase leading an inquiry into governance and various bits and bobs. He has previously managed social care services, worked as a musician, been a controlled demolitions manager and volunteer service designer. He is an expert at pairing crisps with sandwiches.
Kim has over 24 years’ experience of homelessness, substance use and the criminal justice system consisting of over 14 years working within the third sector and 10 years of her own lived experience. For the last 4 years she has worked as a complex case worker with Forward Leeds/Humankind, her role was to engage individuals that are entrenched in a street-based lifestyle and work alongside them to ensure they are accessing the most appropriate services and receiving practical and emotional support. Kim then moved into a new role to develop and build recovery in communities with individuals who have exited drug treatment and will be supporting them sustain their recovery. Kim's work has been recognised and is highly regarded by stakeholders and partnerships as she is very passionate about her work and committed to encourage individuals make informed decisions for themselves to ensure that they remain in control and lead on their own journey.
Kim feels that the stigma, challenges, and barriers she has faced throughout her life has enabled her to understand the challenges and difficulties that other people experience on a daily basis. Kim wants to ensure that she amplifies the voice of others that have been ostracized and excluded from mainstream society and believes that Expert Link’s values align with her own.
Marnie currently works for the Homeless Charity Changing Lives in the North as an Area Manager covering Durham and Tees Valley areas, providing supported accommodation for men, women and young people experiencing multiple disadvantage. Previous to this role Marnie worked at Homeless Link a membership organisation for frontline homelessness services as a Partnership Manager covering the North and before that she worked for Sunderland City Council for 18 years latterly managing the Housing Options Team providing advice and guidance for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
I am the Lived Experience Team Manager for Empowerment Charity in Blackpool supporting people with Multiple Disadvantage – Substance Misuse, Mental Health, Offending and Homelessness. The team support people as well as ensuring their voices are heard in the influential places that they need to be heard. Working to inform System Change in Blackpool.
I started my employment journey in 2014 after many years of Substance Misuse and all other issues that the people we work with are facing. I was employed as an Apprentice Navigator on the Fulfilling Lives programme and always ensured that the voice of the people we work with were being listened too.
During this time, I gained my Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Social Care and became a Manager of the Lived Experience Team. All of the team, have Lived Experience of Multiple Disadvantage and have used services in Blackpool.
Pete Smith (Chair)
As Director of Sector Development at Homeless Link, the national membership body for frontline homelessness services, Peter pioneers and promotes innovative practice, while working to strengthen and enable Homeless Link’s member organisations working on the frontline of homelessness and supported housing. He leads the practice development, regional partnerships work, membership programme and events, training and consultancy offering.
Peter returned to Homeless Link in October 2020, where he was previously Head of Partnerships, following two years’ secondment as a Rough Sleeping Advisor at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Prior to joining Homeless Link in 2014, Peter managed Sunderland City Council’s Housing Advice and Homelessness Service.
Ryan is currently employed by Change Grow Live and is a Team Leader with their Leeds Street Outreach Service, they are commissioned by Leeds City Council to locate, engage, and work alongside individuals that are living a street-based lifestyle. Ryan is committed to ensuring that the views and thoughts of people with lived experience is at the forefront of service delivery.
Ryan is delighted to be part of the Expert Link community; he truly believes in the vision of the charity and is committed to supporting with its strategy.
Steve has suffered childhood trauma and as a consequence in later life faced addiction, homelessness and mental illness. Overcoming the worst of this Steve has become a community champion volunteering at local community hubs, volunteers with a large homeless charity and has received an award from the National Citizens Service for his work with school leavers.
Steve is one of the founding members of Expert Link, committed to the purpose and values of the organisation.