Head of Mental Health and Training Services
Polly Falconer joined The Afiya Trust in November 2009. Polly was the Deputy Chief Executive of a local mental health charity for nine years until November 2008. Her role included the development of a Peer Support Programme in partnership with Berkshire NHS Trust, partnership development, project development and she was a voluntary sector representative on the Reading Integrated Commissioning Board for Mental Health. Her expertise is in people management, training, mental health awareness, anti stigma and modernising Day Services with a focus on service user involvement. She is a qualified and experienced senior manager, trainer and facilitator. In 2007 Polly was nominated for the Pride of Reading Awards for her work in mental health and her contribution to the community. She is currently Chair of Trustees for Graft (Thames Valley), an organisation that supports disabled and vulnerable adults into employment, and is the Public Relations Officer for the Jamaica Society in Reading.
Head of Special Projects and Events
Denise Forde has been with The Afiya Trust for over eight years. Her current role consists of managing, supporting and coordinating Afiya's mental health projects, the National BME Mental Health Network, the BME Mental Health Advocacy Network, the National BME Service User Network and the Work and Recovery Project. Denise has experience of working in community grassroots engagement for the charity's mental health and cancer programmes including producing translated materials, organising awareness raising and consultation events, highlighting concerns and challenges facing service users and BME mental health organisations. She also encourages the service user voice to participate and respond to health and social care policies, particularly the Mental Health Act and New Horizons. Denise is currently involved in developing work programmes around service user and carer involvement, and leadership from a BME perspective in partnership with the National Mental Health Development Unit and the Department of Health.
Head of Finance, Admin and IT
Soka Kapundu is a qualified accountant with years of experience in the voluntary sector. He qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant with a medium sized firm of Chartered Accountants. He went on to qualify as a Chartered Management Accountant before pursuing post graduate studies in charity finance. Prior to joining The Afiya Trust, Soka worked with a variety of organisations in the private and public sectors. He has also served as Treasurer at a number of organisations over the past 20 years.
Sahar Haddad has worked part time at The Afiya Trust since February 2006 holding the position of Accounts Assistant. In addition, Sahar assists with the completion of day-to-day administrative issues at Afiya's main office. She plans to build on her experience at Afiya to strengthen her skills and expertise in accountancy. She enjoys family gatherings and travelling around the UK and abroad. Sahar is also committed to adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Communications and Online Editor
Samantha Watson joined The Afiya Trust in February 2011 as the Communications and Online Editor. She has worked in the communications field for over seven years. She is an accredited journalist who began her career working for a local newspaper in Waltham Forest and later progressed into a career working for the non-partisan political organisation Operation Black Vote (OBV). She participated in the US State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) where she reported and gained an understanding of social and political organisations across America. She continues to work with non profit organisations seeking social, environmental and political change in their communities. She is currently a committee member for Helping Hands for Refugees and Disabled in Newham.
Friends of Afiya
Homaira Sofia Khan
Homaira Sofia Khan joined Afiya at the beginning of 2010. Before her current position, Homaira was based at The Stroke Association, working on a three-year project raising awareness of stroke in BME communities. This involved grassroots outreach work and encouraging local partnership events with health providers and community and faith organisations. Homaira has also been involved in local authority health scrutiny committees and regional stroke networks to promote the patient's voice. She has project managed a number of publications around stroke prevention including two sets of recipe cards in conjunction with the London School of Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure based in Ealing, London, a set of healthy living posters and a blood pressure toolkit for patients. Homaira has also produced a sickle cell and stroke leaflet aimed at parents and teachers alongside the organisation Sickle Cell and Young Stroke Survivors, which was well received. Homaira is passionate about raising the profile of BME communities and their health needs to reduce health inequalities.
Credits: photographs by Sharron Wallace