Dr Jess Steele OBE
Jess has 30 years’ experience as a local community activist and entrepreneur in Deptford and Hastings, as well as at national level working with government, funders, corporates and academics. An active social entrepreneur, she has established community enterprises in publishing, heritage, tourism, childcare, financial management, neighbourhood development, workspace and, more recently, homes that are genuinely affordable in perpetuity and leisure for everyone.
Jess’ company Jericho Road is a founder investor, alongside Meanwhile Space in WRNV Ltd.
John is our General Manager and Director. He is responsible for the day to day running of Neighbourhood Ventures and manages the redevelopment of our buildings as well as the management of the ones which are now complete and occupied.
John has 16 years of business management experience and also manages our housing subsidiary, Living Rents. He is passionate about the possibilities of affordable housing that the Observer Building can offer local people in need after seeing the benefits that our existing housing stock offers its residential tenants.
Bob is our Finance, Operations & Investment Lead. He has worked with Hastings Commons from the very start with different hats - first as a funder back in 2014 when he was Director of Programmes for the Power to Change Trust, then as a contractor after he co-founded Practical Governance. Bob works part-time at Hastings Commons, alongside being a Partner at Practical Governance as well as Operations Lead & Board Secretary at the Conduit Club. In Bob’s spare time, he is a keen traveller, football fan, a lover of Scottish whisky, a trustee of Camerados (from which our own Common Room has taken inspiration) as well as treasurer of the Bevy, a community-owned pub in Brighton where he spends far too much of his time.
Sean is responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of all our buildings along with providing customer service to our residents and tenants.
His caretaking & maintenance experience was gained whilst working for the University of Brighton for 14 years.
Kieron joined us in 2021 to start a new career as a Caretaker. He works closely with Sean & Mark to keep all of our buildings clean and well maintained.
Kieron loves helping people and in his spare time, likes to go fishing. He is also a motorbike fanatic!
Amanda has taken on many of the bookkeeping/financial tasks within the company and aims to provide support with the various funding processes.
She has over 25 years of experience gained within commercial business and is now very pleased to be working for a company that has the needs of the community at its heart.
Equality is very important to her and she enjoys being a member of the local village community where she lives.
Kit works with our General Manager to support building redevelopment projects alongside our professional teams to deliver often complex projects in difficult and derelict buildings.
Kit originally hailed from an arts background and became interested in operations within the cultural sector. He later retrained as a carpenter and worked within the construction industry before moving into building management and development.
Kit is excited by pulling together his broad experience and applying it to an exciting organisation within the great town of Hastings.
Hayley is our Facilities Manager and helps to manage our buildings and facilities, alongside John and Kit.
After 7 years of working in the landscaping and construction industry, Hayley was keen to work for a company restoring the buildings in her hometown. In her spare time, Hayley enjoys days out with her family.
Lottie is our Tenants & Spaces Coordinator; focusing on bringing in new tenants into our spaces across the Hastings Commons, and supporting tenants’ journeys. Lottie has worked across multiple industries and travelled extensively over the last 10 years, volunteering for outreach projects throughout Africa and teaching in Barcelona. With her nurturing and social personality, Lottie is excited to help grow the community of Hastings Commons.
Karl is our Tenants & Spaces Coordinator; focusing on building excellent relationships with the existing tenants as well as supporting to attract new ones. Karl has worked across a variety of different industries and has spent the last 8 years working across a mixture of NHS and private healthcare hospitals. Very much a people person, Karl is looking forward to spending time with the tenants and learning about their journeys. In his spare time, Karl is a keen illustrator and loves music and socialising with friends.
Pasha is our Communications Manager, focused on developing the Hastings Commons Communications strategy, as well as running the social media accounts/websites and marketing activities. Pasha has a Masters in Social Anthropology and is particularly interested in the relationship between food and community. Over the last few years, Pasha has worked and volunteered at a number of third sector organisations, including many local to Hastings. When she is not working at Hastings Commons, Pasha runs her own bakery business, Small Batch Babka.
Cameron is responsible for monitoring the social impact of Hastings Commons and producing evaluation materials summarising the impacts of our efforts and activities. In addition, he is working with our team to develop robust feedback mechanisms, capturing the experiences of those using Hastings Commons spaces in addition to capturing the experiences of locals impacted by our community-led redevelopment and activities.
With a background in sociology and and strong interest in localism, Cameron is keen to employ his research skills and understanding of multiple perspectives to pinpoint the role of Hastings Commons within the White Rock area and the wider social ecosystem of Hastings. Cameron enjoys reading and taking long forest walks in his spare time.
Charlotte is a passionate historic building conservationist with a Heritage Interior Design BA Honours Degree. Her background is full to the brim with historic synergy and prior to her current role, she worked as a Heritage Property Steward at The Charles Darwin Museum, under the stewardship of English Heritage whilst at university. Charlotte’s most favoured past-times are scouring antique shops along the East Sussex coast for treasures and collecting Medieval cookbooks to endeavour successfully recreating interesting recipes!
Sarah is responsible for our hospitality and event spaces across our buildings. Her primary focus is the creation of the cafe in The Observer Building. Sarah is really excited to use her 15 years of experience in the Hastings Commons. When Sarah is not planning events she is spending time with her family and meeting up with friends.
Darren is a Trustee of Hastings Commons Community Land Trust and represents Trustees on the WRNV (Hastings Commons Neighbourhood Ventures) Board. He started his journey with Heart of Hastings CLT at the old power station site in Ore Valley, a site that he had grown attached to through living nearby and spending time on there while growing up. For him it started as a way to keep himself busy through some tough times. However, he very quickly became excited by the different approach to volunteering and projects they were involved with and soon gained the support of the local community, other volunteers, trustees and staff when he put his name forward to become a trustee.
Over time his knowledge and passion grew for other developments that were taking place in the eco system and how we are empowering the local community to make a difference. He has now become more involved with all aspects of the Hastings Commons and has recently become a director of Hastings Commons Neighbourhood Ventures. He’s very excited by the possibilities for local people and places that we have the opportunity to work with and help grow.
Emily is the founder and Director of the pioneering social enterprise and advisory organisation Meanwhile Space. As the market leader in Meanwhile uses since 2009, Meanwhile Space designs innovative Meanwhile solutions to create better places to live and work, by taking on challenging redundant spaces, and working with local communities to bring them into affordable temporary use that supports community initiatives, social and creative entrepreneurialism.
As a Hastings resident, Emily is committed to supporting the Hastings Commons strategy and ethos to achieve its full potential for community led social action, having been involved since its inception through the purchase of Rock House in 2014. She is now a trustee of the charity Leisure and Learning, a project board member on the Observer Building development, and previously was a grant panellist for the Heritage Action Zone.
Tor is currently Head of Communications at the Roundhouse in Camden, a live venue and youth charity. She has over 13 years’ experience working across communications, press and advocacy for a range of large and small charities and campaigns.
Tor sits on the steering group for the Young Trustees Movement, which aims to increase the representation of young people on boards, as she believes in the importance of elevating voices in the community, through communications but also through governance.
Having worked at the Roundhouse since 2015, Tor has seen how important affordable, creative spaces are for their communities. Given the last two years, and the cost of living crisis, she believes accessible community spaces will be even more vital for local people in the years to come.
Tor is keen to give her time and expertise to such an ambitious and inclusive project for the local community – as someone who is also a local resident, she is incredibly excited to work as part of this team over the coming years.
Felicity has a background of working with homeless people within local authority roles which led to an acute awareness of the failings of the current housing system, both in the private-rented sector (which is poorly regulated and prohibitively expensive to many) and in the social sector, where there is a chronic shortage of affordable and secure accommodation. She is studying a Masters in Sustainability and Adaptation Planning at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, which brought into focus the need for alternative approaches to society's challenges and introduced models of community-led housing.
Felicity now works in a small, socio-economic regeneration team in East London tackling some of the same issues facing Hastings, namely:
How can regeneration be more equitable and inclusive, where everyone benefits from the opportunities of a thriving local economy?
How do we keep community wealth and assets within the local area?
Felicity was delighted to discover that Hastings has its own Community Land Trust, and is honoured to contribute to an innovative and alternative housing solution.
Claire spent years in Scotland enjoying work as a finance person for small charities and arts organisations. Coming from New Zealand in 1988, she realised she preferred the smaller nonprofits where everyone supported each other as opposed to large corporate organisations. She moved to London in 2008 and spent the next 11 years being as pedantic as she liked at University College London, creating and managing project budgets for academics. After visiting Hatsings nearly every weekend for three years, Claire and her wife decided to move here in 2018. They both work part-time in the charity sector and Claire always wanted to do something tangible to support a local enterprise outside of work. When the call for trustees went out and there was a vacancy for Treasurer, she felt this would be the perfect fit.
Lloyd has always had an interest in being active within his local community. Thirty years ago, he started a program called Give Back in Streatham, before moving onto concentrating on Cycling/BMX within the community. He was active in establishing Brixton and Peckham BMX clubs and also diversified into giving advice to aid and enable younger members of the community. Since moving to Hastings, Lloyd has joined the Board of Trustees to carry on this assistance and help where needed to to make a difference and enhance our community in any way possible.
Nick is a passionate champion of the built environment and in particular community-led projects. He has over 20 years’ experience in communications, community engagement, procurement and design in the sector. Originally trained as an architect, he more recently took a Masters in Design Management and Innovation where his research was based around sustainable and ground-up development models.
Having worked for some of the most interesting and high profile architectural practices in London and New York, on some fascinating projects, he moved to Sussex in 2020 and currently works as a freelance consultant in tandem with his role as a Trustee of Hastings Commons.