Our team has a wealth of experience of working in the voluntary sector and are committed to promoting strong and sustainable communities.
Katherine Nolan, Chief Executive
Katherine has worked in the charity sector for many years, specialising in fundraising, communications and development. After studying psychology at University, she had a brief stint working in a bank on Piccadilly Circus before deciding that the charity sector was where she wanted to be. She has worked for a range of causes including learning disability and social care, before becoming Head of Communications for a national education charity. Over the years, she has also had various volunteering roles, including a trustee of three charities and Chair of her local Pre-School.
Natalie Dyson, Operations Manager
Originally from the North East, Natalie has lived and worked in the South West since 2003. She has a range of commercial experience, having worked in the Sales for a large IT company and the legal profession. She qualified as a lawyer in 2006 and eventually joined the Charities Team at a Taunton-based law firm. More recently, Natalie has worked as a self-employed consultant solicitor, with a variety of clients in the private and public sectors. She has knowledge of trustee and charity law, governance and property law for charities. At the beginning of lockdown, Natalie became a founding member, and is now chair of Coronavirus Coronavirus Community Help Taunton. The organisation consists of 40 local area groups with almost 1,000 volunteers providing vital support across Somerset West and Taunton. To date they have responded to over 10,000 requests for help, and attracted extensive local and national media coverage. During this time, Natalie realised her passion lies in voluntary and charitable work, and she joined us as Operations Manager in June 2020. In her home life, Natalie is a busy mum of 3. In her spare time she enjoys walking her young Golden Retriever and keeping fit. She has also recently become a Trustee of St Giles Animal Rescue, and is training to become a mentor with Promise Works.
Charlotte Jones, Volunteering Development Manager
Charlotte manages the Spark volunteering service, aka Spark a Change. She has over 30 years’ experience of innovating to support more resilient communities in both paid and voluntary roles in Somerset. Charlotte believes in learning from first-hand experience and helping people to help themselves, and that mutual support and innovation work best when locally grown. Before joining Spark in July 2020, Charlotte worked for a Somerset based local authority supporting community-led innovation and investment to thrive and sustain, and more recently focused on organisational change, employee learning and agile working. She has a Master’s degree in Public Management and a Diploma in Pre-School Practice both of which (she says) helped her understand that systems should work for people (and not the other way around) and the importance of life-long play and learning. Her belief that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ led to her helping to design, fund and build a new village hall and playing field, do that she could benefit from a local parent and toddler group. Charlotte’s additional studies have included design thinking for public services, business planning for community led change and innovation and participative decision making. Charlotte enjoys getting an annual free pass to Glastonbury festival (in exchange for some hard graft volunteering), writing for fun, cycling on the flat, gardening for mental wellbeing and cooking for crowds.
Helen Fielden, Volunteer Development Officer
Helen works on developing all things volunteering so that local organisations can really benefit from the potential of their community. She tests and evaluates different ways of working with volunteers. Her particular interests are supported volunteering and getting more young people involved in their local community. She has a passion for building networks, empowering people and training. Using her degree in Psychology and Social Studies, Helen has worked in both the voluntary and public sector. Her career has included training young people as mystery shoppers to assess sexual health services, coordinating an HIV and AIDS awareness programme in South Africa and freelance training. Along the way she has achieved Prince 2 Project Management, a Level 6 Certificate in Management and Leadership, and a Certificate in Further Education Teaching. Having volunteered since she was a child, Helen is an active member of her community, and is currently involved in a women’s cycling group, Samba band, and various local charities.
Chloe Skinner, Volunteering Support officer
Chloe joined the team in 2020 in a newly developed role to help manage and develop our new volunteering platform, Spark a Change. Along with a degree in Business Studies, Chloe has several years’ experience in the VCSE Sector, including working for a large national heritage charity and a non-profit art events organisation. She is passionate about supporting volunteers and organisations to fulfil their potential.
Sandra Smith, Community Development Worker
Sandra has recently returned to the UK after living in Southern Ireland for the past 9 years where she worked as a Community Development Officer, supporting groups and individuals wit ha particular focus in rural and disadvantaged areas across Tipperary. She worked on the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme funded by Local Government and the EU to address social isolation, unemployment and support groups across the region. Prior to moving to Ireland, she worked for Business Link for 10 years on a range of funded programmes as an advisor, mentor and trainer, again focussed on those facing long term unemployment and upskilling employees in small to medium sized businesses across Kent. The majority of her spare time is spent with her horses and dogs.
Sharon Hale, Voluntary Sector Development Manager
Sharon has lived and worked in the Mendip area since graduating with a degree in Community Development in 2000. She has helped a diverse range of groups to establish themselves and gain funding for a range of projects and activities, roller discos, to play parks, befriending schemes and community radio. More recently, she has played a more strategic role in Mendip, ensuring that the voluntary sector is championed and supported. Sharon is involved in local independent politics, runs a book club, and loves live music and performance and roller skating!
Jenny Hannis, Voluntary Sector Development Adviser (Somerset West and Taunton)
Jenny has a background in sports development, and has worked for local authorities and National governing bodies of sports for the last 14 years. During this time she has gained extensive experience of supporting voluntary sector sports groups to develop and become more sustainable, and has worked with a diverse range of communities. Jenny is a mum of two small children, and in her spare time she volunteers with the Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership, representing the Taunton and West Somerset area and working with the NHS trusts and other organisations to improve the maternity experience for women and their families.
Penny Schofield, Voluntary Sector Development Adviser (South Somerset)
Penny lives in South Somerset and has worked in the District for 20 years. She started working life in south London, initially developing and finding funding for a wide range of community projects and then managing specialised skills training projects for marginalised learners. Penny moved to Somerset to help set up two large projects providing housing and innovative skills development opportunities for homeless young people. She has experience of complex budget management, project evaluation and impact reporting, fundraising, partnership working and the recruitment, training and development of teams. Penny has an MA, a Diploma in Management and a PGCE.
Hayley Pope, Voluntary Sector Development Adviser (Sedgemoor)
Hayley has been Supporting groups and volunteers and creating partnerships for many years. She previously worked with Alezheimer's Society, developing dementia friendly communities in North Somerset for Alzheimer’s Society, and as a fundraiser for Somerset children’s charity, Bibic. She has a degree i
n English from the University of London and enjoys writing short stories.
Sarah Cummins, Voluntary Sector Development Adviser (Mendip)
Sarah has lived in Mendip, the area in which she grew up (and loves), since graduating with a Politics degree from the University of Sussex in 1999. Sarah has worked in the voluntary sector for 20 years in a variety of fundraising roles with both large and small organisations across South West of England. She has lots of experience of supporting community groups with income generation, collaborative working and best practise. Sarah is also a trustee of the Friends of Mendip School PTA, and enjoys gardening, walking her dog, and open water swimming (in all weathers!)
Denise Timmins, DBS Officer
Denise has been working in the voluntary sector for over 10 years and has had experience of working in several of the different areas of support that we offer here at Spark Somerset. For the last 9 years she has managed our DBS Service. As well as processing DBS applications she can give advice, guidance and workshops on the process. We don’t call her the DBS guru for nothing!
Sam Carrier, Funding Manager
Sam started working life in global corporate public relations. It was a year’s sabbatical as a corporate fundraiser with a children’s hospice that began her charity journey and made her think differently about what she wanted from her career. For the last twenty years she has been advising not for profit organisations of all shapes and sizes about raising funds and public relations. She likes to approach things a bit laterally if possible!
Amelia Norton, Funding Officer
After studying History at Bath Spa University, Amelia spent her time working in not for profit sports clubs building relationships with local and international businesses through sponsorships and events. Since joining Spark Somerset in February 2019 in a newly developed role, she helps coordinate the Spark training and events programme, looks after the social media and website, coordinates the support for the active living groups and offers admin support to the rest of the team. Amelia is a keen runner and can often be found at a Park Run on a Saturday morning.
Kerry Wills, Communications Officer
Since studying Media and Culture at Solent University, Kerry has worked in admin for several years, first with a local publishing company, then within the head office of a national retailer. She joined the team in 2015 and as well as office management, she helps coordinate Spark Somerset events, looks after the website and the social media and newsletters, and supports the Somerset Mental Health Hub and the Somerset VCSE Strategic Forum websites.
Matt Day, Social Prescribing Coordinator
Matt joined us in 2017, after having spent many years working locally in community development, initially in town regeneration and community planning for a local authority, then running the Somerset Towns Forum, a learning network for community partnerships and town councils. In his role as Wellbeing Coordinator, Matt supported 3 local community partnerships and developed Wellbeing South Somerset, our online directory of support. Matt is now Social Prescribing Coordinator for the South Somerset West Primary Care Network, and works within the community to help strengthen the existing groups that offer vital health and wellbeing support, identify gaps in provision and support the development of new groups and activities. Matt has a keen interest in healthy lifestyles and in his own time leads group cycle rides and campaigns as a member of Taunton Area Cycling Campaign.
Sue Crisfield, Social Prescribing Coordinator
Since qualifying as a Youth and Community worker in 1985, Sue has worked in a wide range of roles, mainly with young people, apart from a few years in adult social care in Glastonbury. She has worked with young offenders, supported church-based youth work, young carers, young adult carers and adult carers, young people who are not in education, training or employment, homelessness & housing, LGBTQ+, and more recently in advice and guidance and support for young adults. She is particularly committed to ensuring that people of all ages can equally and confidently access support and information needed to bring growth and independence. In her role as Social Prescriber for the Rural Practice Primary Care Network, Sue will be working to strengthen the existing groups offering health and wellbeing support, identifying gaps in provision, and helping to develop new groups and activities. A keen volunteer, Sue is a Trustee and Secretary of the Mendip wide charity, Youth With A Future as well as a driver for the Prickles Hedgehog Rescue centre in Cheddar. She sings in her local community choir and believes singing to be the best therapy anyone can get!
Emma McFarlane, Wellbeing Development Officer
Emma has recently moved into the charity sector after having spent the last 10 years working for local heritage organisations including museums, historic houses and an archive. She loves partnership working and interacting with people. Emma is part of the Take Part Project, working to reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing in South Somerset. Outside of work, Emma is an active member of her church and volunteers with a local charity, focusing on PR and fundraising. She also enjoys dancing, cooking, walking and socialising with friends and family.
Tineke Winfield, Finance Officer
Tineke looks after our day to day finances. She has over 20 years’ experience of working in financial roles in commercial, statutory and voluntary organisations, most recently at Somerset Skills and Learning, where she played a key role in the development of their internal financial systems when they became an independent CIC. Tineke tried retirement in 2019 but (fortunately for us) decided she wasn't ready to slow down just yet, and joined the team here at Spark the following year. When she’s not keeping our accounts in order, Tineke enjoys being Oma to her two young grandsons, walking on the levels and bird watching, and helps out with financial matters at her local church.