"I’m interested in making a difference to people’s lives"

Chair of Southdown

Staff are at the heart of all that Southdown do

My name is Jane Claxton and I’m the Chair of Southdown. I’ve been here for just over a year and it’s been great.

My role is to work with other Board members and the Executive team to ensure that Southdown provides its services and supports its staff in as financially robust way as possible.

We need to make sure that Southdown is outward looking and in the right place to meet future challenges – in terms of the services we provide and in terms of managing risk. For example, at the moment we’re focusing on the challenges regarding Brexit, Universal Credit and the impact of Grenfell and what lessons we can learn.

I probably devote a minimum of one day a week to Southdown. Part of my role is to ensure the board members are supported to govern effectively which includes leading the annual appraisals for all the Board members as well as Neil Blanchard, the Chief Executive.

Neil and I have weekly phone calls so that I am aware of what is going on, and each month we review the key milestones and targets we have set in a face-to-face meeting.

I also work closely with Vikki Hayward-Cripps, the Company Secretary, who supports the Board’s governance systems and activities.

The great thing about Southdown is that it’s a very diverse organisation but that the services all interconnect and play their role. The Board has to ensure that all the pieces of the jigsaw are doing what they need to do.

We have specialists on the Board who have Link roles to a particular part of Southdown’s work, including some who go out into the organisation and talk to staff and clients, for example, in mental health recovery services and supported housing. The information that they come back with helps us make decisions for Southdown.

We keep a brief on all services but the new £1.5 million mental health contract we’ve recently won will be a big priority.

In November, all the Board members will meet up for our ‘away day’ to look at Southdown and our strategy. We’ll look at what’s happening in Southdown and the world at the moment so we can plan for the future and ensure the stability and security of our staff. If Southdown is financially sound in terms of the services it provides, it ensures staff can have a long and exciting future here.

Staff are at the heart of all that Southdown do and are one of our key areas of focus. We want Southdown to be the go-to place for people who want a career in supporting vulnerable people. We are constantly thinking about recruitment and retention and we want to be the best employer we can possibly be; our recent awards demonstrate our commitment to this.

I’ve worked in housing and supported housing most of my adult life. I’ve chaired lots of different organisations from Northbrook College to the West Sussex Coastal Partnership. I’m able to bring that experience to the role and help provide an inclusive environment where everyone’s voice is heard.

Southdown is very well thought of because we’re good at what we do. It’s a great organisation. Clients very often see the light at the end of the tunnel with our support.

It’s humbled me, seeing the challenges that people have to deal with on a day-to-day basis and I am proud of the part that Southdown plays in making those lives more manageable.

I’m interested in making a difference to people’s lives - giving them the framework and support so they can be the best they can be. It’s never been about the money for me – it’s about making a difference.