Our People

Management Team

Blanche Phillips Interim Director of Finance and Resources

Blanche leads the finance team and the HR and admin team within Oasis Community Housing, ensuring that all of the back office functions and support is in place to enable our staff to effectively carry out their important roles, in Sarah’s absence.   

Blanche has more than 39 years’ experience across various sectors.  She recently worked on the Scottish Borders for a Veterinary group that specialise in Small and Large Animals and Equine across 9 branches.  Prior to that she was 8 years Director of Finance at The Sage Gateshead.

Blanche is an adoptive Geordie and immigrated to the gorgeous NE of UK in 2002 with her husband and two sons.  She has recently became a grandmother to the most gorgeous little girl that now rules her life and has become her fulltime hobby outside office hours.  Blanche and her family enjoy travelling and enjoying the beauty that England offers.


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Phil Conn Director of Programmes and Designated Safeguarding Lead (Children and Adults)

Phil Conn

Director of Programmes and Designated Safeguarding Lead (Children and Adults)

Phil is our Director of Programmes, overseeing our Crisis Services, Empower and Aspire programmes. He has been with Oasis Community Housing for eight years and was one of the founding team members of our Basis@Gateshead walk-in resource centre. After heading our Crisis Services for several years, he has now progressed into his new role and will lead our work in domestic abuse support, helping those furthest from the job market and financial capability – as well as continuing to lead the way with our front line crisis work.

Before joining Oasis Community Housing, Phil worked in youth development for a VCS organisation delivering targeted youth support, intensive programmes and leisure activities. Prior to that Phil enjoyed a career in the catering industry.

Phil is part of the leadership team of his local church and a trustee of Soul Food Spaces, a food charity that that creates places for people to meet and eat together to build connection and community, improving body, mind and spirit.

Phil likes Pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, is an avid coffee snob and a keen cyclist.

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David Smith Chief Executive

David Smith
Chief Executive

David has been Chief Executive since September 2016 and is responsible for leading the organisation, setting the culture, vision and strategy, and representing Oasis Community Housing externally.

Working with charities in the UK and overseas, David has focused on projects working for social justice and the empowerment of the vulnerable. This has included managing the establishment of a nationwide reconciliation project for young people in Northern Ireland that tackled sectarianism; and fundraising roles with the international development charity, Tearfund. In his previous role as Head of International Programme with the Bible Society David oversaw a seven-figure grant-making programme that has brought transformational change in more than 40 countries worldwide.

David studied at the University of Glasgow for his undergraduate degree in Modern History and Politics, graduating in 1998. Over the following 10 years David also studied Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University in Washington DC, French language at University of Sunderland, and an MPhil in Reconciliation Studies from Trinity College, Dublin.

In his spare time David reads political philosophy and theology books, plays football with endless enthusiasm and suffers from following St Mirren, Sunderland AFC and the Scotland national team.

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Jen Gauden-Hand Director of Housing

Jen Gauden-Hand
Director of Housing

*Please note, Jen is currently on maternity leave.

Jen leads the Department responsible for supported housing provision, the Social Lettings Agency, Maintenance Team, and InForm data system, and has spent her working life to date within our charity.

After gaining a law degree (LLB) from the University of East Anglia, Jen took a gap year during which she volunteered for Oasis Charitable Trust, and had the opportunity to put her passions for young people and homelessness into action through working on a street outreach team in Central London, a substance misuse recovery centre and leading youth and children’s work for local churches.

Jen has 16 years’ experience in the housing and charity sector, and has undertaken frontline roles as a Support Worker, Deputy Manager and Project Manager before moving into senior management as Head of Housing and now Director of Housing. Work stream specialisms include supported housing for young people, and women.

In her spare time Jen loves snorkelling, photography, time with friends and family, and enjoys any excuse to bake. She can be found at her church, All Saints Peckham, singing in the worship band and helping out on the Fairtrade stall. Or in the stands at Selhurst Park watching Crystal Palace attempt to play football!

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Sarah Lister Director of Finance and Resources

Sarah Lister
Director of Finance and Resources

Sarah leads the finance team and the HR and admin team within Oasis Community Housing, ensuring that all of the back office functions and support is in place to enable our staff to effectively carry out their important roles.

Sarah has been a qualified chartered accountant for more than 18 years.  She has worked in the housing sector for a decade, and has been a senior leader within the sector for 8 years, leading on Finance, HR, IT and Governance.  She has worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Gateshead Housing Company and Northern Housing Consortium and has a wide skill set beyond finance.

Sarah is also treasurer for Durham Wildlife Trust.

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Anthea Turner

Anthea Turner is a treasured patron to our No.3 project in London, which supports young women who would otherwise be homeless. Anthea is a dedicated and vocal supporter of young women held back by disadvantage and has supported No.3 since she met and interviewed one of the project’s former residents for a Zonta International – London City event in aid of Oasis Community Housing.

With 20 years in the public eye, Anthea is well known for presenting Blue Peter, Top of the Pops, National Lottery and GMTV.

Every Sunday, from 10am to 1pm, Anthea joins friend and former Newsround presenter, Chris Rogers, presenting on Scala Radio.



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The Reverend Kate Bottley

Vicar, mum of two, TV and radio broadcaster, Kate Bottley has been Patron of OCH since 2017. Kate is passionate about bringing stories of faith and belief to the widest audience possible and is a firm supporter of women’s issues and of ‘women helping women’ to overcome disadvantage and discrimination.

Originally from Sheffield, and graduate of Leeds Trinity University, in 2012 Kate was part of a wedding flashmob video which went viral and led to her being approached by Channel 4 to take part in Gogglebox, which has since resulted in her becoming a much loved household name.

Kate currently presents Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2 alongside Jason Mohammed, and is a regular presenter on Songs of Praise and The One Show. She has also made guest appearances on Celebrity MasterChef, Hairy Bikers Cracking Christmas and 8 Out of 10 Cats.

In 2017 Kate journeyed to Camino de Santiago for The Pilgrimage, a three-part travelogue series for BBC 2. She has also presented and contributed to several BBC Radio 2 programmes including The Sunday Hour, Saturday Breakfast and the Weekday Breakfast Show.

Kate has recently discovered a new passion for open water swimming and regularly tweets of her swimming adventures.

Kate says of OCH:

I became a patron of Oasis Community Housing because of my passion to see women being given the right help and support to reach their full potential, whatever life has thrown at them, be that finding themselves homeless, in troubled family relationships, having been in and out of care, experiencing abuse, drug or alcohol addiction or mental health issues.  I have been inspired by seeing and hearing real stories of transformation made possible by the really special work that OCH does to show real love and worth to so many who have never experienced this before.

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Margaret Lawson

Margaret Lawson joined us in July 2019. She initially studied Modern Languages and then worked as a secondary school teacher in Reading, teaching German and French for 3 years.
Margaret then retrained as a solicitor and worked in private practice for Ward Hadaway for about 25 years, specialising in commercial disputes.
After that she became a Lecturer in Law at Northumbria University before moving to London in 2011.
Since that time she has volunteered extensively, first in London and then in the North East and most recently as a job coach for Junction 42, a Christian charity which supports ex-offenders.
Margaret is an active Christian and church member, involved in various aspects of the life of Holy Trinity Church in Jesmond.
She sings in the Newcastle Bach Choir, enjoys keeping fit by going to regular fitness classes and doing long distance walks such as the South West Coastal Path, and loves going to the cinema, especially to see foreign language films.

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Anita Morris

Anita Morris

Accountant Anita Morris joined the Board this year, bringing a wealth of financial experience to the table.
At present she leads a team preparing and submitting the financial accounts for some of the largest companies within the EU.

Anita has been with Procter and Gamble for 18 years and progressed to a variety of areas, including general accounting and supply chain accounting.

In her free time, Anita is an active church member and auditor for Holy Trinity Jesmond Church.

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Dr Caroline Wroe

Dr Caroline Wroe

Dr Caroline Wroe MBChB PhD is a consultant with the NHS, and the chair of Oasis Community Housing Board of Trustees. Caroline is married to Mark and they have three daughters. As an active member of her local church, Caroline is committed to living out her faith, and through OCH is passionate about seeing lives transformed by a radical Christ-like inclusion.

Experienced in safeguarding, confidentiality and data protection, dealing with conflict, and patient involvement and education, Caroline delivers essential knowledge and experience to the Board.

After training in Birmingham, and achieving her doctorate at Newcastle, Caroline developed a special interest in living kidney donation. Caroline is responsible for the regional living kidney donation service, which through collaboration and stakeholder involvement, has won national recognition. Continuing her academic studies, Caroline became honorary Professor of Teesside University in 2018.

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Kate Ginks

Kate Ginks

Kate Ginks is the managing director of Strategic Estates Ltd and a chartered surveyor.

She is adept at project managing brownfield and greenfield development sites and acquiring housing sites for both property development companies and national and regional house building firms.

Able to analyse and interpret a whole range of information, in the context of advising on planning related matters, Kate is invaluable to our Board as we manage eight sites in the North East and London, with plans to expand.

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Nick Salisbury

Nick Salisbury

Nick Salisbury spent three decades as a senior banker with Barclays, and now uses his financial knowhow for social benefit.

As well as a deep knowledge of Bank and Capital markets, lending within the corporate market and UK property and infrastructure market segments, Nick is adept at risk assessment and skilled in sound commercial judgement.

As a Trustee for Oasis Charitable Trust, he provides a valuable overview between the two Boards.

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Mark Bryant

Mark Bryant

Mark Bryant was Bishop of Jarrow for 11 years until late 2018.

He studied at St John’s College, Durham University, and then trained for the ordained ministry at Cuddesdon College for three years.

He has extensive experience as a Trustee, sitting on the Board of Depaul UK, the Lindisfarne Regional Training Partnership and a Hospital Trust.

He also serves our Board with his management, mentoring and pastoral skills and his impressive North East networking profile, lending key support to our fundraising events. Mark is the Chair of our Safeguarding sub-committee.

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