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Leadership Team

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Ruth Kettle

Chief Executive

Ruth Kettle has overall responsibility at Community Links which is part of Inspire North.


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Ruth Kettle

Chief Executive

Ruth Kettle has overall responsibility at Community Links which is part of Inspire North.


About Ruth

Ruth is the Chief Executive of the Inspire North group which incorporates both Foundation and Community Links and their subsidiaries. She is responsible for ensuring the success of the organisation and in realising the benefits of our merger bringing together two great charities.

She ensures that everyone is aware of our values and sets the tone of the organisation; she is particularly proud Community Links have achieved Best Company status for 10 years in a row and became a top 50 inclusive company in 2017.

Read on to find out what she enjoys most about her role and why she started entering triathlons!

Why did you choose to work for a third sector organisation?

I’ve always worked in the third sector it suits my personality in terms of getting things done perhaps with the least amount of bureaucracy! I confess I am a bit of a rule follower so I also ensure we follow best practice in whatever we do, from governance to service delivery.

What skills and experiences have you brought with you from other roles?

I’ve been CEO of Community Links since Dec 2014 and have been on a real journey during this time weathering many storms and achieving great successes, being determined and tenacious are vital skills.  I’ve been a senior leader since 2003 when I joined Community Links and have been a key part of our continued growth and development into new services and ventures during this time. I’ve worked for a national charity and a small local organisation so have experience of the challenges and benefits of both of these; which helps inform my decision making even now many years later.

Experience has also taught me to always employ people who are better than me, it’s all about the team work.

In real life I am a mum of two and an adopter. My continuing journey into therapeutic parenting and understanding the impact of trauma helps me every day at work from thinking about how we can get the best outcomes for our clients, to ideas for service delivery to supporting colleagues.

What do you think is the main challenge we face in supporting our customers to have a better life?

Cuts to social care over the past 10 or so years have left many councils struggling to cope with demand and has put more pressure on health and other services. The incidence of mental distress is increasing across all our client groups but resources are diminishing, it’s a difficult circle to square! We need to innovate, do more of what works and less of what doesn’t so measuring impact is becoming pressing.

What inspires/motivates you?

Knowing that change is possible and that we can and do make a difference. Responding positively and helpfully to those seeking for help, even if we don’t have all the answers, can be the difference between a few weeks/months needing support to years of feeling side-lined, unsupported and stuck.

I also love thinking whole system and am excited by the possibilities of service providers from health, social care, probation etc. and the third sector all working together to deliver better outcomes for all.

What’s your favourite hobby?

Not sure it’s my favourite but the one I am most committed to is running and exercise of some kind as it really helps me to switch off. I completed my first triathlon in 2016 which involved swimming in Roundhay lake and since then I’ve entered a couple of triathlons a year.  I even completed a standard distance in 2018 which was 1500m swim, 36km bike and a 10k run on the end! I won’t be doing that again in a hurry but it felt amazing when I finished.

Do you have a catchphrase or mantra?

My mantra is “look after yourself” because you can’t pour from an empty cup.

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Faye Oldroyd

Director of Operations

As Director of Operations, Faye has strategic responsibility for the effective functioning of all operational functions across the organisation.


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Faye Oldroyd

Director of Operations

As Director of Operations, Faye has strategic responsibility for the effective functioning of all operational functions across the organisation.


About Faye

Faye leads on enhancing service user empowerment aiming to achieve co-production and has line management responsibility for three Operational Managers. She is responsible for the safe, high quality and efficient delivery of the day to day operations of Community Links, continuous service improvement and regulatory compliance.

Why did you choose to work for a third sector organisation?

Operations is my bread and butter. I started work within the third sector as a naïve practitioner fresh out of university, learning my trade from the service users that I worked with. Over the years I have embraced opportunities to further develop my role within various sectors including substance misuse, criminal justice and mental health. Before joining Community Links in 2017, I was the National Lead for Implementation and Transformation for Turning Point.

What is the favourite aspect of your role?

Working with the wealth of expertise that we have within the organisation and being continuously inspired by the service users that we work with.

What do you think is the main challenge we face in supporting our customers to have a better life?

Being responsive to the changing needs of the service users that we work with.

What inspires/motivates you?

I feel I am in a privileged position, playing a part to empower service users to bring about positive change in their life.

What’s your favourite hobby?

If I had to choose a favourite hobby I would have to say horse riding. After talking about learning to horse ride for many years my partner bought me some lessons and I haven’t looked back.

Do you have a catchphrase or mantra and what is it?

Without a transition a change is just a rearrangement of furniture.

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Donna Gooby

Director of People and Culture

Donna is responsible for the design and implementation of our HR strategy. Her role has a key responsibility for driving…


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Donna Gooby

Director of People and Culture

Donna is responsible for the design and implementation of our HR strategy. Her role has a key responsibility for driving employee culture and engagement and being a role model. She is constantly looking for opportunities to improve culture and to ensure we recruit and retain great people who share our values.


About Donna

Donna develops the groups HR strategy and has responsibility for the HR team, the Training Team, and is the organisational lead for Equality & Diversity strategy and policies.

Her role has key responsibility for driving employee culture and engagement and being a role model. She has to constantly look for opportunities to improve culture and ensure we recruit and retain great people who share our values.

A main focus at the moment is culture building making Inspire North a fun and enjoyable place to work for everyone.

Why did you choose to work for a third sector organisation?

The reason is the absolute passion our people have for making a positive difference – it inspires me. I believe people make the difference, not processes. I am lucky to work alongside an incredibly engaged group of people. I am very fortunate to genuinely love getting up for work every day. Life is too short to spend it dreading Monday mornings!

What’s the favourite aspect of your role?

I have great job satisfaction. For me personally it’s important to be able to input at the highest level, not just on HR matters but also more holistically when it comes to how we manage and develop the overall organisation. To fulfil my mission to help Inspire North group claim their spot as the employer of choice as an engaged and skilled workforce can make such a difference to the results which we achieve. I also enjoy Employment law – so much is centred on it these days

What do you think is the main challenge we face in supporting our customers to have a better life?

Attracting talent is something that all organisations need to work hard at. You can’t sit on your laurels and expect great talent to walk through your door. You have got to make sure you are working hard on your employer branding and reputation. Research shows that a skills shortage could risk a shortfall in workers with the right talents and abilities. Inspire Norths needs to continue attract star performers to ensure we carry on offering top class services.

What inspires/motivates you?

When I was at school I had a secret ambition (despite a serious lack of talent) to be a dancer! I now realise it wasn’t the glamorous lifestyle I was attracted to. What I wanted was to connect with others and use my imagination to make a difference to people’s lives.

These ideals still exist in what I do today as HR has a big role to play in employee engagement.  If employees are happy and healthy, feel supported and enjoy what they do then they will also perform better in their role and deliver a higher standard of service.

I’m inspired and motivated by watching our employees, volunteers and service users succeed and progress.

What’s your favourite hobby?

I love to cook and experiment sometimes it works and sometimes it’s burnt!  I like everything about cooking from planning what I’m going to cook, buying the ingredients, licking the bowl and enjoying the finished product.  Cooking makes me feel calm and happy. If I’m stressed I start to cook and I completely relax. There’s just about nothing that makes me happier than sharing food with my family and friends.

Do you have a catchphrase or mantra?

“I’ll get my magic wand” – I just want to do the best I job I possibly can and sometimes I need a little help!

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Caroline Watson

Director of Finance and Corporate Services

Caroline is the Director of Finance and Corporate Services. She oversees all financial matters and a number of key support…


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Caroline Watson

Director of Finance and Corporate Services

Caroline is the Director of Finance and Corporate Services. She oversees all financial matters and a number of key support functions.


About Caroline

Caroline leads on all financial and business support matters for Inspire North (which includes Community Links).  She has responsibility across all the companies in the Inspire North group for Finance, IT, Facilities and Health and Safety. In addition, she is involved in strategic decision making and shares responsibility for fully delivering the merger in terms of system, process and people integration.

Why did you choose to work for a third sector organisation?

I spent the first years of my career working in professional accountancy practice followed by eight years in international banking which was great travelling but as my stress levels grew I realised that it wasn’t just the workload but the clash with my internal values. I moved to the third sector in 2000 as Finance Director at Northern Ballet and via a number of other third sector roles ended up at Foundation in 2011 on an interim six month contract!  Foundation then become part of the Inspire North group in late 2018.

What skills and experiences have you brought with you from other roles?

Having had 18 years in the third sector I bring an in depth understanding of third sector finances which includes both charitable and registered social landlord accounting. My experience of dealing with local authorities and different commissioners and different cuts and contract changes over the years has helped me develop a team who can work with operations and development teams to use finance as a proactive support for modelling things differently as work is re-tendered. My private sector experience makes me very control conscious and able to think commercially, a necessary skill in today’s third sector world. I worked up and oversaw the move of Foundation’s IT provision to the cloud and used the same skills to oversee the migration to the Razor Blue platform and eventual integration of our group wide systems.

What is the favourite aspect of your role?

It’s a toss-up between the sheer variety – life is never dull and reading/hearing customer stories about the amazing changes employees in all parts of our operations have helped them make to their lives – it keeps me grounded and reminds me why I am here.

What do you think is the main challenge we face in supporting our customers to have a better life?

The increasing uncertainty in long term funding and the continuing reduction of local authority budgets by central government which raises the bar for those eligible for support and has drastically reduced the amount of time customers can spend in our services meaning they don’t always get the amount of support we would like to provide.

What inspires/motivates you?

II am passionate about the rights of individuals to achieve their potential, be that sustaining a tenancy, getting a job, managing mental health issues or overcoming whatever the challenge is to take their part in society. As above, the stories of customer achievements get me out of bed in the morning.

What’s your favourite hobby?

Music. I am a very basic guitar player but enjoy it and I sing in a number of groups – one a formal choir down to a group of us sitting round a friend’s kitchen table once a fortnight.

Do you have a catchphrase or mantra?

My son would say “have you got your phone”!! I regularly remind the team that central services are exactly that – services paid for by the rest of the organisation who are therefore our customers and deserve the same courtesy and professional service as external clients and commissioners. Professionalism includes taking the time to be transparent and clear, not a mystery in an ivory tower.