Who we are
BrightSparks is a Community Interest Company based in York. We are all about doing good and helping people to move on and move up in life.
What we believe in
We believe in a fairer society where everyone can succeed and improve their lives. Our talented team of do-gooders are committed to helping people and families, particularly those that need it the most, to improve their lives and prosper.
How we work
We work with people to:
Understand their strengths (because everyone has them!) and how to use them;
Improve their knowledge and skills so they know how to improve their own situation, as well as help their families and communities;
Improve their financial situation, because everyone need more money, right?
What we do
Friendly and inclusive training sessions on a range of subjects, delivered by our warm and approachable tutors in community settings.
Research, evaluation and impact support so that other organisations can understand how their service and support help to improve lives.
Social enterprise projects that work directly with people (in their communities) who want to improve their lives.
Meet our team
Andy: Managing Director
Andy is our Chief Do-Gooder, which means his role is all about exploring how BrightSparks can use its people, skills and resources to help more people in different ways.
Andy has a varied background and has worked for/with schools, local authorities, national charities, government departments as well as major brands like Apple and Argos.
Andy has worked extensively supporting vulnerable children, young people and adults in a wide range of educational, health and social contexts, including designing and commissioning extended schools services, youth services, careers services, looked after children's services and mental health services.
Andy teaches on the following courses:
Katie: Director of Research, Learning & Development
Katie leads on course design, development and delivery, and on research projects with external partners (such as York St John University, Spark:York and Lincoln Council).
Katie has many years of experience in Higher Education and was Head of Partnership Development and Lecturer (Children’s Workforce) at York St John University. She is passionate about widening participation and has worked in Higher Education, Adult Education and for local authorities in Yorkshire, managing projects for refugees,and young people at risk of offending. Katie is currently working with partners to develop an Emotional Resilience Toolkit for use in schools.
Katie is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has a Masters in Educational Improvement, Development and Change. She has published a range of papers related to supporting people who are returning to learning, and developing the children's workforce.
Katie teaches on the following courses:
Christine: Learning & Development Associate
Christine is the Learning and Development Associate for BrightSparks and supports them to deliver most of its research, training and consultancy services.
As a Learning and Development Associate, Christine has significant experience as a strategic leader and specialist in workforce development across the children’s workforce. She has extensive knowledge in leading and sustaining the continuing professional development framework for all those working with and for children and young people, and has played a key role in commissioning and development of training for groups of staff across the children’s workforce.
Christine has over 10 years’ experience as a leader in the area of learning and development. This includes working with a number of universities to provide programmes to support development of the skills and knowledge required by those working with vulnerable families, children and young people. She also has an extensive network particularly across the Yorkshire and Humber Region and was previously Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Workforce Leads Group. Christine has delivered and facilitated training over a number of years to members of the children’s workforce, including Support Staff in Schools, Foster Carers and Social Workers. Most recently she has supported those interested in accessing employment in the children’s workforce through delivery of a skills development programme.
Christine has proven experience in developing and supporting people to reach their full potential. She is an established mentor and coach, both in the public and private sector and is currently studying for an ILM coaching qualification.
Having eight years' experience as an Early Years Practitioner working within Early Years Education, Christine has worked with a number of vulnerable families to improve the outcomes for the children for whom she worked.
In addition to Christine's strong public sector background, she has over 15 years' experience within the private sector working for Nestle UK. She has a human resources background and has managed the organisation and development of major sales conferences and events.
Christine teaches on the following courses:
Leonie: Marketing and Development Manager
After graduating with a First Class degree in Graphic and Media Design, Leonie has developed a successful career in marketing and communications for the not-for-profit sector. She has worked with a wide range of clients from small local charities and social enterprises, to national and international organisations.
Her areas of expertise include web development and design, branding, graphic design for print, and social media, content and email marketing. She has managed successful marketing campaigns using both print and digital media. Her experience in fundraising encompasses projects for a national charity and consultancy work for freelance clients.
Leonie is committed to using her design and communication skills to help BrightSparks reach a wider and more diverse audience, meaning more people are supported to move on and up in life.
SAM: Learning and Development Assistant
Sam has had a varied career but chose to pursue a people-focused role after successfully completing a Counselling diploma at York College.
After attending Brightsparks’ ‘Developing Emotional Resilience in Children and Young People’ course, Sam used her Counselling skills and the skills she had developed with BrightSparks to take on a voluntary role helping with the delivery of Positive Futures Parenting courses.
After seeing what a valuable member of the team Sam is, she was asked to join BrightSparks' staff team as Learning and Development Assistant, helping to support planning, development, delivery and evaluation of Brightsparks’ training courses and research projects.
Sam knows from personal experience that the Brightsparks team are excellent mentors and motivators and believes firmly in BrightSparks’ mission to support people to reach their full potential.
Amanda: Marketing and Communications Assistant
Amanda is our Marketing and Communications Assistant. She comes from a public sector background and has experience working for various branches within government. Her areas of expertise include creative communications, speechwriting, writing for web, social media management and event planning. She has experience working with and writing for a wide range of audiences, including cultural organisations, government officials and members of the media.
Amanda assists with social media, marketing and communication elements within the organisation. She is excited to be a part of the BrightSparks team and is looking forward to using her skills to help others move on and up in their lives.
BrightSparks also works with a growing team of freelance consultants. This means that BrightSparks always has the most experienced and well-informed team working on every project.
Now you know all about us, we'd like to get to know you
Tell us about your training, research or project needs and see how the BrightSparks team can support you, or the organisation you work for.