The Guernsey Disability Alliance (“GDA”) has appointed Karen Blanchford as their executive director. This is a new post for the charity, which was previously led by volunteers.
As well as being a collective voice for more than 30 local disability charities and over 350 individuals, the GDA creates innovative opportunities for its members to speak for themselves, like the We All Matter, Eh? campaign (www.matter.gg).
Much of its work is in partnership with the States, with the aim of achieving greater equality of opportunity for disabled islanders and carers.
Karen’s role is funded by a strategic grant from the Guernsey Community Foundation in recognition of the GDA’s role in driving the implementation of the Disability and Inclusion Strategy and the need for the charity to be sustainable in the long-term.
Karen will lead the day to day management of the charity and will focus on working closely with the GDA’s membership to achieve change in the short to medium term.
Karen brings a wealth of experience to the post, having worked within the public and private sectors throughout Europe and Asia. Her background in management and strategy includes start-ups, non-profit organisations and global corporations.
Alongside Karen’s business skills, her voluntary experience within the charity sector means she has a real understanding of the challenges facing the GDA at this time. She is qualified in HR, marketing and psychology and has devoted time to voluntary work, including crisis support service “Lifeline” in Australia.
Karen says, “I am excited to be taking on a role that has such potential to make a difference to the lives of disabled islanders and carers. I am particularly keen to make sure our members are fully involved in everything we do. I’m passionate about connecting people and working with them to drive real progress.”
The GDA was founded by Rob Platts in 2008 and has been led by Shelaine Green for the past six years. Shelaine will continue as Chair and focus on working with the States on developing policies that will deliver long-term change for disabled islanders and carers, such as the Disability Discrimination Legislation and the Supported Living and Ageing Well Strategy.
Shelaine says, “Until now, the GDA has been led by Rob Platts and myself as volunteers. The depth of our involvement with the States increases every year, so having a small staff team, led by an Executive Director, will ensure the GDA stays close to its membership and continues well into the future.
“Everyone is absolutely delighted to welcome Karen as the new heart and soul of the GDA. Her professionalism combined with true warmth and empathy means she is a natural fit for the role. We are also hugely grateful to the Guernsey Community Foundation for their support for charities and individuals working together.”
Chief Executive of the Guernsey Community Foundation, Dave Chilton, says, “The Foundation is delighted to support the development of the GDA through its Strategic Grants Programme, which aims to improve the way a voluntary organisation operates or delivers its services so that it can better meet the needs of the community or its beneficiaries. The Foundation was impressed by the professionalism of the funding application and the GDA's ambition to drive forward the implementation of Guernsey's landmark Disability and Inclusion Strategy. Our funding of the Executive Director’s post will support the GDA and its members to ensure that this Strategy, along with other developing States strategies, meets the needs of disabled islanders and carers.”