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CEO Interviews: Robert Edmonds, CEO, Mind in Barnet

Posted on 31/01/2018 by

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For the first part of our CEO interview series, we sat down with Robert Edmonds - CEO of Mind in Barnet – to discover his experience in the non-profit sector and how TPP helped to place him in his current role.

How would you describe your current role?
Busy and enjoyable! As CEO of a mental health charity - Mind in Barnet, my role is to understand and inform the strategic direction set by our trustees and to unlock resources. Funding and resources come in different types, but supporters, staff and volunteers combine so that we can deliver quality services.

What is your favourite part of the role?
I’ve been in my post for just three months. My favourite part of the role has been meeting and getting to know trustees, staff and volunteers and also seeing how they bring the ambition of Mind in Barnet - enabling people with mental health problems to get better support – into practice. It is especially exciting meeting people who use our services getting help, and gaining respect and confidence along the way.

What do Mind in Barnet do?
Through a range of community based counselling, advocacy and outreach projects we collaborate with colleagues in the NHS, Social Care and local voluntary sectors to help people with mental health problems to access timely support.

Mental health affects one in four of us. The population of Barnet is 379,000 people - so we have a community of people who have experience of mental health.

We involve people with lived experience of mental health problems in designing and delivering our services. We also participate in lobbying and campaigning activity about disability rights.  It is not uncommon for unemployment rates amongst people with mental health problems to be over 90%. We provide an employment advice service and deliver training in mental health awareness to businesses and local organisations. We are exploring ways of increasing peer support and have begun testing a support groups service 

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a trapeze artist (or trumpet player!). The fact that I was scared of heights didn’t seem to worry me. You could compare being a CEO to walking the tightrope at times!

How did you come into your current role?
I have been working across the sector as a CEO for a while - previously at a national charity, Community Network, tackling loneliness and increasing mental wellbeing by delivering peer support, in groups, via the telephone. Feeling lonely isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. I came into my current role through TPP, when they sent me a message about the Mind in Barnet CEO recruitment. My career has involved working in NHS community mental health services and the charity sector. As I discussed the role I realised that Mind in Barnet’s ambition met with mine -  to deliver quality services and to put people with mental health problems centre stage. It felt like the right move- and still does!

How did you get into contact with TPP?
I didn’t – they got in contact with me! I hadn’t been job searching but TPP’s approach made me realise that I wanted to get back to managing local services.

Did they help your search in any way?
I wasn’t searching, but yes in as much as they alerted me to the role I am in now.

What did you study at university?
Human Geography in Sussex University’s School of Cultural and Community Studies.

What made you get into the non-profit sector?
I would say I have always been heading to the non-profit sector.

In my gap year I volunteered in a Sue Ryder Home.  Later, when working in the NHS I was managing a community hospital in which older people were requiring ongoing care and support. I was co-opted onto the board of Age Concern Islington and it went from there.

My first paid role in the charity sector was Deputy CEO which involved me managing Information and Advice services, being the organisational lead on volunteering and supporting an older peoples’ campaigning group.  

I’ve taken this forward throughout my career and appreciate that putting the individual and their skills at the heart of any services gets the best results – for everyone.

I’ve now been in the charity sector for over 20 years. it’s where there’s much passion for the cause and a where innovation happens. Because of the ethos of user involvement, non-profit organisations can often identify societal needs early and are experienced in collaborating to meet needs.  I would say I have always been heading to the non-profit sector.

Describe TPP in one word?
Approachable

If I could add more - I feel like I was helped to quickly able to build a rapport with the people I have met at TPP. I spoke to Rob Hayter and Brigitte Stundner, both of whom were welcoming and approachable. They were great listeners, but wanted to have a dialogue with me too – they felt genuinely interested to find out about my motivation and experience and to ensure that I could meet the role required of me by my Board.