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Meet the Board

The people who use our services are at the heart of our governance so our Board of Directors includes people with lived experience of learning disabilities, autism and mental ill health. 


Our Board meets regularly and we make Board meetings accessible through a range of methods, including pre-board preparation meetings, speak up cards, agenda summaries and minutes in simple language with images.  



Co-Chair of the Board of Directors and Expert by Experience

Matthew is a strong believer in the principles Your Voice Counts stands for and passionate about helping other people with learning disabilities.  

Friendly and approachable, Matthew is a dedicated charity fundraiser and has taken part in sponsored walks and the Great North Run for charity.  


Matthew likes football, basketball and fishing and is a supporter of Newcastle United.  

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Christina Gates

Co-Chair of the Board of Directors

Christina joined Your Voice Counts as Co-Chair in 2019.  As an experienced coach, mentor and senior manager, she brings a wealth of experience of supporting and working with individuals, teams, organisations and communities to enable sustainable change and transform culture and behaviours.  

Christina previously worked in the social housing sector, specialising in partnership working with disadvantaged communities to bring about community-led improvements to neighbourhoods.   


Christina appreciates being part of an organisation that supports people to have their voice heard and take control of their lives.

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Rebekah Coombes


Rebekah joined the Board in 2021 and brings with her HR, Organisational Development and coaching and mentoring expertise that is helping us to develop our approach to how we engage and support our staff so they have the right skills and experience to thrive in their roles.


Rebekah has held senior HR positions in the NHS and social housing sector and is now Head of Human Resources at Gateshead NHS Foundation Trust which gives her invaluable insight into how people experience and navigate accessing the health and support services they need. 


She also has family members with lived experience of learning disabilities and is passionate about improving the system so services are more welcoming and supportive for the people we work with.

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Jess Fielding

Director and Expert by Experience

Jess is passionate about giving people the chance to have their say and helping organisations listen to the voices of lived experience.


Equality is important to Jess and she regularly supports the delivery of equality and diversity training.  

Jess enjoys writing and performing poetry, singing in a choir and photography. Music is a big part of Jess’ life and she enjoys attending concerts. 

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Matt Ife


Matt has been on the Board for three years and is the Treasurer of Your Voice Counts.  He is a Chartered Accountant and brings experience from his career in business and financial services.

Matt is pleased to be able to support an organisation with such a broad reach in the local North East community, and that helps people to be heard and empowered in society.

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Lisa Kelly

Director and Expert by Experience

Lisa is a strong advocate for the rights of people with learning disabilities and is passionate about providing opportunities for people with learning disabilities to speak up for what they want and need. 

An experienced networker, Lisa is committed to partnership working and represents our organisation across the region.  


She also volunteers for user-led social enterprise New Vision, as well as being an active member of The Twisting Ducks Theatre Company.  Lisa is an actor and her dream is to act on stage at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. 


Andrew Lane


Andrew joined the Board early in 2020.   He is an experienced senior manager who has worked extensively across higher education and the civil service, both in the UK and internationally. 

Andrew is passionate about equality of opportunities and empowerment, and is thrilled to be able to support the vital work of Your Voice Counts. 

Andrew spent a number of years living in Japan and is also a retired DJ. He now enjoys live music, hill walking and baking. 

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Derek Peters

Director and Expert by Experience

Derek joined our Board because he wanted to raise awareness of the work we do and is passionate about helping us to achieve our aims. 

Derek is active in the South Tyneside community, presenting a programme on Hive Radio under his alias ‘Ding Dong Derek’, as well as being part of the Ocean Road media team and delivering Be Cancer Aware training.


He’s a proud Sunderland FC supporter and has followed them for over 30 years.


Tom Relph


Tom joined the Board in 2017.  He works as a Community Librarian in South Tyneside promoting the library service through health and wellbeing.


He worked in partnership with some Your Voice Count's self-advocacy groups for several years on projects including Safer Places, sepsis and projects around employment and leisure, before he was asked to join the Board. Since becoming a member he has realised that Your Voice Counts does so much more, and is always impressed with the range of services on offer. 
Tom is the parent of a son with learning disabilities and lives in Wrekenton. 

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David Taylor

Director and Expert by Experience

Originally part of the Talk to Us self-advocacy group, David joined our Board to get more involved in how our organisation is run. 


He is passionate about supporting people with learning disabilities to navigate the welfare benefits system and is proud of the work we do in this area.


David is also an ambassador for the Speaking Up Together self-advocacy group and is interested in transport and local history.



Director and Expert by Experience

Preddi is an Expert by Experience in autism and mental ill health and wants to use his lived experience to help Your Voice Counts be the best we can be for the people who need us.  

Preddi also speaks French and enjoys listening to music and singing, as well as sports including playing football and pool.  

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