Children’s Quarter is a co-operative with members which are groups and organisations that provide services to children, young people and families; and supporters, who are individuals who support its aims and co-operative principles. The members decide what Children’s Quarter does at General Meetings throughout the year. At the Annual General Meeting in the Spring, members elect a Board of Directors to manage the work of the Co-op between General Meetings. The Board does this with reference to an Executive Committee which involves a wider set of interests including people who work and volunteer for Children’s Quarter.
Board Members elected by the Members are:
Les Lawrence is the Co-Chair of the Children’s Quarter.
He is a former chair of the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and past chair of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust. A former Birmingham city councillor, he served as cabinet member for children, young people and families on Birmingham City Council for 8 years. He also served as the chair of the children and young people board of the Local Government Association.
Les has two children.
Liz Garnham is the Co-Chair of Children’s Quarter.
MBE has spent 25 years in Birmingham advocating, often case by case, for children and families at risk of social exclusion and supporting specialist education and associated organisations through chairing, governance, development work and fundraising. She is a mother and has supported community youth inclusion groups to help address the gap in services for older children, managed school inclusion outreach projects and been a director of Dens of Equality. She is presently the treasurer of Birmingham Parent Carer Forum who were successful in receiving the Independent Support Grant which supports families through the transition from Statements to Education Health Care Plans. The Forum is the recognised body by the NNPCF for parent consultation in Birmingham.
Liz is ex-Chair of Governors at Uffculme School the largest Autistic Specific School in Europe who have been considered outstanding by OFSTED for the past 9 years, and supported boards at Hamilton and Selly Oak special schools and Trinity Specialist College. Liz is also an independent rep on the SENDIASS management board. She has chaired the Birmingham Governors Network and sits on Schools Forum and has been a key contributor to citywide strategy groups supporting vulnerable children.
Dawn Durrant is Clinical Lead at Birmingham Centre for Arts Therapies based in Highgate, Birmingham and Clinical Lead of a large multi-academy trust of 7 schools in London and the North East. Dawn has worked with children and SEN children for almost 25 years as a teacher, musician and music therapist. She has also worked on inpatient CAMHS wards for young people with acute mental health, eating disorder and for a deaf CAMHS team.
Jon Harris is the Headteacher of Hamilton Special School in Handsworth, Birmingham and a Director of Birmingham’s Special Schools Co-operative Trust. In 2021, Jon took up additional responsibility as the Executive Head of an Academy of five schools in the West Midlands.
Lisa Wooton is the co-founder of SEND Socials Birmingham, which is a network of more than a thousand parents of children with SEND. She is also a Director of SEND Socials Birmingham Community Interest Community set up in 2021 to extend and enable social and support opportunities between parents and families. Lisa is mum to two boys with SEND and is a governor at a special school.
Steve Jewell is the Chief Executive at Ackers Adventure, which is Birmingham’s adventure centre and a member of Children’s Quarter. Steve has more than 20 years of experience in the commercial and operational oversight and development of estates and facilities. He is an experienced third sector leader with extensive experience within the Scout Association. He is a member of the Sport Birmingham disability forum.
Also attending Board Meetings are:
Dr Carolyn Blackburn
Dr Carolyn Blackburn is Reader in Interdisciplinary Practice and Research with Families in the School of Education and Social Work at Birmingham City University. She has worked in a range of support and leadership roles with children and families for nearly twenty years including inclusion support and family support worker, early years leader and literacy intervention worker. Carolyn has researched with children and families with complex social histories and specialised in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders for which her work is internationally recognised. She has also worked: with young children with Down Syndrome; on conductive education; exploring children’s right to make choices and engage in playful activities through Singing Medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital; and through an Erasmus Plus project that aims to provide training materials for physiotherapists working with children with Cerebral Palsy. Carolyn is a a member of the European Association on Early Childhood Intervention and is a co-opted Board Member representing Children’s Quarter’s research partnership with Birmingham City University.
Laura Watts is the Chief Executive and Development Director of Children’s Quarter. With more than 20 years experience of setting up and supporting groups providing inclusive services to children and young people, she founded Children’s Quarter in 2017 and has led and developed the cooperative.
Paul Slatter is Children’s Quarter’s Campaigns Manager. He has 30 years experience in developing community networks and has had research published into community investment and community coproduction.
Rachel Paget is Children’s Quarter’s Company Secretary and Finance Manager.
All Board Meetings are also open to Members of the Co-operative on request.