Speaker biographies

Homes for Cathy conference, Monday 30th April 2018

David Bogle 


David Bogle is Chief Executive of Hightown Housing Association and has been heavily involved with the Homes for Cathy housing association group campaigning for more homes and resources for homeless people fifty years on from the first showing of Ken Loach’s film ‘Cathy Come Home’.

Hightown operates in mainly in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire and around one third of its £82m annual turnover is spent on providing services to people who are vulnerable or disabled including homeless people, people with mental health problems and people with learning disabilities. Hightown built 650 new affordable homes in 2017/18 and a high proportion of these were allocated to people categorised as homeless.

Twitter: @David_Bogle

Jon Sparkes

Jon Sparkes

Jon Sparkes has been Chief Executive of Crisis since 2014. Previously he was Chief Operating Officer of UNICEF UK and Chief Executive of SCOPE, the national disability charity. Jon also had a successful commercial career as Human Resources Director of the international technology firm The Generics Group. He is a Non-Executive Director of South Yorkshire Housing Association, and currently Chair of the Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Action Group created by the Scottish Government to find short and long term solutions to homelessness.

Twitter: @jon_sparkes

Rt Hon John Healey


John is the Labour Member of Parliament for Wentworth and Dearne in South Yorkshire and is Shadow Secretary of State for Housing and Planning.

He has previously held the following positions in the Shadow Cabinet and Labour Government:

  • Shadow Secretary of State for Health
  • Minister for Housing and Planning
  • Minister for Local Government
  • Minister for Floods Recovery (2007)
  • Financial Secretary to the Treasury
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Adult Skills

He worked in the voluntary sector from 1984 to 1990 with the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation and MIND campaigning to improve rights and services for disabled people. From 1990 to 1994 John worked in communications for Issue Communications, a PR company, and the MSF Union. He was Campaigns Director for the TUC from 1994 to 1997. He has also been a part time tutor at the Open University’s Business School.

Twitter: @JohnHealey_MP

Lord Bob Kerslake


Lord Kerslake is Chair of Peabody, Chair of the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS), Chair of London CIV, and is President-Elect of the Local Government Association.

A former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake led the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) from November 2010, stepping down in February 2015.

Prior to his DCLG role, Lord Kerslake was the first Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, where he was responsible for promoting new and affordable housing supply; supporting the regeneration of cities, towns and neighbourhoods; improving existing housing stock, and advancing sustainability and good design.

Before joining the Civil Service Lord Kerslake received a knighthood for his services to local government; spending eight years serving the London Borough of Hounslow and then a further 11 years leading Sheffield Council.

In early 2015, he was made a life peer, taking the title Baron Kerslake, of Endcliffe in the City of Sheffield.

Twitter: @SirBobKerslake

Chris Hancock

Chris photo.jpg 

Chris is responsible for direct housing services across Crisis‘ 11 centres in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as leading on their innovation and best practice work. This includes supporting English Local Authorities around the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act. Previously to this he managed housing needs and options services for Exeter City Council and in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Twitter: @Chanco81

Bob Blackman MP 

Bob Blackman

Bob Blackman is the Member of Parliament for Harrow East. He sits on MHCLG Select Committee, Procedure Committee, and Backbench Business Committee among others. He also holds the post of secretary for the influential 1922 Committee.

Twitter: @BobBlackman

Polly Neate

Polly Neate

Polly Neate joined Shelter as Chief Executive in August 2017, having been Chief Executive at Women’s Aid since February 2013, leading Women’s Aid through significant change.

Throughout Polly’s career she has influenced government and campaigned for policy change and social justice and has been a prominent commentator both in the media and on conference platforms.

Between 2005 and 2013 she was Executive Director of External Relations and Communications at Action for Children, one of the UK’s largest charities. Her responsibilities included public policy, campaigns, research, communications, brand and fundraising. She also developed organisational strategy and led significant cultural change and staff engagement programmes.

Polly is a journalist by profession and won national awards both for journalism and campaigning.

Twitter: @polln1

Paul Doe 



Paul Doe retired last year after 20 years as CEO of Shepherds Bush Housing Group and a near 40 year career in housing. Paul was a Founder member of PlaceShapers and Homes for Cathy and was also Chair of St Mungos the leading homelessness charity. He has continued his interest in homelessness by becoming a trustee of two local homelessness charities based in West London and Surrey. Paul was awarded a MBE in the Queens birthday honours list in 2016.


Sue Chalkley OBE FCIH


Sue Chalkley has worked in social housing for 42 years. She joined Hastoe as their Chief Executive in 2007. She is a co-chair of the Rural Housing Network and inaugural chair of the Rural Housing Alliance. She is also chair of the Rochester Diocese’s Clergy Houses Committee and the Kondoa Partnership Group that oversees the link between Rochester and Kondoa (Tanzania) Dioceses. Sue is an active member of Homes for Cathy.
Twitter: @SChalkleyHastoe

Michael Newey  D.Sc(Hon) B.Sc FRICS FCIH FRSA


Michael Newey has been Broadland Housing Group’s Chief Executive since May 2003. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Michael has worked in the affordable housing sector since 1997, having previously worked for Flagship Housing Group and Anglia Housing Group. Prior to 1997 Michael worked as a Chartered Surveyor in private practice in London, working for both Richard Ellis and Savills.

In 2013-14 Michael was the Global President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Previously he held positions within the RICS include Vice Chair of the Global Management Board and Chair of the Communications Board, Public Affairs Committee and the UK Residential Policy Panel. Michael was appointed as a Professional Member of the RICS Global Regulatory Board in July 2017 for a three-year term.

Twitter: @MichaelNeweyBHG

Sarah-Jane Gay 

Sarah Jane Gay.jpg






Sarah-Jane is a Policy Officer at the National Housing Federation. She leads on homelessness, and also works on supported housing and welfare. Before joining the Federation Sarah-Jane worked across a range of policy areas at Citizens Advice, and spent three years at National Numeracy, a small education charity.

Twitter: @sarahjanegay

Matt Harrison


Matt Harrion is the Director of Business and Social Enterprise at Homeless Link. He oversees Homeless Link’s finances and central services functions and all the income-generation activity, including In-Form and fundraising. He is also responsible for the StreetLink service, a 24/7 website and phone line to enable members of the public to connect rough sleepers to local services. Matt was the chief executive of a specialist information charity that joined with Homeless Link in 2009. His background is in advice centres, day centres and hostels for homeless people in Coventry and London.