Director, Agitator, Cockney
After spending a 10 years failing in most aspects of the music industry, Stuart went back to college to earn himself a first class degree in Informal & Community Education, during this time conducting a comparative study of volunteering in Tokyo. This opened up a whole new world where Stuart seemed to flourish in working with young people excluded from school in a Pupil Referral Unit. His main claim to fame was playing guitar with rapper 'Plan B' when the teenage would-be popstar was excluded.
Upon expecting his first child, Stuart was convinced to make the drive up the A1 permanent, making the change from east London to eventually raising four children with northern accents. In the North East Stuart's career diversified: he was Community Project Development Worker in Pennywell, Sunderland, Senior Area Youth, Community and Adult Learning Worker in County Durham and Development Manager for Groundwork in Middlesbrough.
On 2009, Stuart made the leap to CEO, being appointed to Mind in Gateshead. Upon joining Mind, Stuart found an unincorporated charity with a small committee and only two projects: a £70k per year 'Day Service' and a £300k per year NHS counselling contract. He set about transforming the organisation, developing until it became Tyneside & Northumberland Mind with a dozen projects, 45 staff and an income in excess of £1.2m. HIs proudest moment was working with clients to produce a short film on welfare reform that went on to win an Royal Television Society award
Stuart ran T&N Mind in the style that he liked to be managed, though this wasn't exactly orthodox. At first, he was constantly waiting to be 'found out' - but he wasn't and what he actually found out was that this approach worked: putting clients’ needs at the centre of everything the organisation does, valuing and trusting staff, taking the work seriously, but not yourself. He often remarked that it takes a lot of thought and hard work to look as laid back as he does.
In 2017 Stuart was made a Clore Social Leadership Fellow, producing a 'thought piece' on the tendencies of charities limiting the growth of their clients by not letting go. He also conducted a secondment with German disability charity 'Lebenshilfe' and assisted newly elected MP Dr Paul Williams in challenging unacceptably long waiting times for a diagnosis of autism. Stuart is now Chair of the Clore Social North East Chapter. Stuart's experience at Mind and during Clore led him to believe that he could support other organisations and leaders to have the courage to think differently and work differently. This was the beginnings of what led to CIA CIC: the belief that there is a more human way to work to help people live the best lives they possibly can.