Meet The Team

Louise Jones

Chief Exec and Founder

Support and Grow North East began as a Community Group in my living room, I was born and raised in extreme poverty and have real lived experience of the trauma this causes, and some of the social problems experienced by many of the people we work with.

I am a survivor of child neglect and abuse, domestic abuse with extreme violence, familial addiction, family breakdown, suicide, poor mental health, and homelessness. I wrote the Growth Model used by our charity as a means to escape my own situation. This is now used by the families and individuals we serve in our communities. I also wrote our B.E.D.E Four Pillars of Community Development 2024 and designed the VAM model. Despite the trauma of poverty, I have a higher education and am committed to lifelong learning. I also have decades of experience in leading and growing businesses at an executive level.

I love to run, as a way of managing stress and my mental health, and have run several marathons for charity. I have a partner, three children, five grandchildren, a rescue dog, and a cat. We love outdoor adventures and long walks in the woods.

Natalie Tucker


My Name is Natalie Tucker. I am a qualified counsellor. I currently work for an amazing company called Kalmer Counselling, where I work in primary schools counselling children between the ages of 5-11. Previous to this, I volunteered as a counsellor in a domestic violence refuge. I am also at university doing my BA Honours degree in counselling and therapeutic communication.

As a mental health professional, I am passionate about empowering people, especially through talking therapies and art therapy. I am a proud Ally and have been involved in various LGBTQ+ charities and events. I love people and I love hearing what people have to say. I also love animals and I am currently training my pug to be a therapy dog. I am very honoured to be a trustee for Support and Grow and I know together we can achieve so much.

Caitlin Stronach


Hi, my name's Caitlin, and I'm one of the Trustees for SGNE. I've volunteered with a number of organisations previously and I'm excited to start my journey of being a Trustee with SGNE. I trained and work in HR as I always want to make sure that people are treated fairly and are happy in what they are doing. I work for the NHS currently, which is a really fulfilling place to be based.

Volunteering is a passion of mine, and is one of the reasons why I was drawn to Support and Grow. I've supported a number of charities who work with people suffering from homelessness, offering friendly advice and guidance and a non-judgmental listening ear, which has been incredibly rewarding.

I'm really passionate about supporting my local community and, going forward, supporting the brilliant work that SGNE does to try and help people reach their full potential and live great lives.

Marion White


I recently joined Support and Grow North East as a trustee after having met the team and being inspired by the extent of the amazing work they do in the community. I enjoy being part of a team and working collaboratively and I'm delighted to be working with them as the charity grows and develops. I hope to be able to bring my skills and experience to help with that and, apart from fulfilling the general role of a trustee, I am supporting Louise in developing the business and funding strategy for the future.

I'm retired and my professional life was spent in both the public and private sectors, mainly in finance and finance systems, programme management, strategy, and business consulting. Outside of that, I love to travel whenever I have the opportunity and I enjoy music, theatre, meeting up with friends, and eating out!

Suzanne Horner


I have a passion for Social Justice and Equity in our local communities, nationally and internationally. I am a change professional with nearly 30 years experience delivering change across a diverse range of sectors - Financial Services, Utilities and non-for-profit Music Industry. Throughout my career I have been involved with Charities and am proud to be part of Support and Grow.

I have two grown-up children and two elderly cats and I spend time helping my father navigate the challenges of the modern technical world. I also enjoy singing and performing and take part in a variety of events around the region.

Emma Breakwell


I am our lived Experience Trustee and have been with our charity since its conception. I am also one of our Volunteer Area Managers, serving Shiremoor and surrounding areas. I have decades of experience in community work, and you will always see me on a stall at any of our events!

I am also employed in adult care. My favourite hobby is playing darts and am a committed mum to three children too.

Dawn Ridgway


In my professional life, I work as a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing at the University of Sunderland, with my specialist area being Musculoskeletal Assessment and Treatment. Alongside this, I spend some of her week championing Employability and Entrepreneurship to improve the prospects of all graduates after graduation. My background is in health and wellbeing with a particular interest in health inequalities and special populations relating to sport, exercise, and rehabilitation. I am currently developing courses and masterclasses to bridge the gaps between in hospital and out of hospital care collaborating with multidisciplinary clinicians, healthcare staff and the wider teaching community. I am also a registered Doctoral student exploring the lived experiences of the service provision for older postnatal women.

When not working I am always active enjoying a variety of activities from long walks with my dog to competitive sprinting, even representing Great Britain in the European Masters Championships! I hope that my wealth of knowledge brings an important academic background to the trustees of Support and Grow NE. I try to be positive and bring my boundless energy to create a supportive atmosphere that engages people into action.

Tess Halford


Hi, I'm Tess and I have experience working with a wide range of people who have presenting issues, people living with different mental health issues, people living with drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction, and people who have experienced different forms of abuse.

I have supported people experiencing bereavement, loss due to suicide, homelessness, family welfare issues, and child protection. I have supported vulnerable adults and young adults. I also have a history of lived experience which gave me the strength and determination to help make a change in society. I have experience in team leading and also working in counselling practice where I have 12 years of experience in counselling practice. I am a member of the BACP, Accredited.

I am a mother and grandmother and enjoy family time, nature, and walking.

David Black


I am an independent voice and critical friend offering advice, opinions, and guidance to groups and organisations. Using experiences within the health & social care system, and government services, I work with researchers who seek to engage and involve citizens in priority setting and management of research projects. I support people in the community with day-to-day matters and advocate for them in navigating public services. In trying to make things work better for others and as an active citizen I am regularly involved in issues such as digital exclusion, public engagement in decision-making, and social care funding reform.

My background is in social welfare legal needs (matters of daily life, with rights, entitlements, and protections defined in law). I also spent some time investigating clinical complaints regarding health and care decisions. My interests include gardening and the environment. I'm also a writer of both fiction and factual articles, and short pieces of work that have been published in magazines and anthologies.

Meet Our Centre Team

Ashleigh Jones

Centre Manager

Hi, I'm Ashleigh Jones. I am the Center Manager and Deputy Safeguarding lead at Support & Grow North East. I have been working for SGNE for 2 years now. I have 14 years of experience working in early years with children 0-5 and their families. I have a lot of life experiences from poverty to trauma.

This enables me to not only understand the families I am supporting, but also allows me to relate to them a lot more so. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family - especially my daughter.

Jordan Kelly

Admin and Data Manager

Hi, my name is Jordan and I'm a creative from South Shields. I've been designing and making things for as long as I can remember, and have been working with media and technology for about 12 years. I'm passionate about all things cars and designing; the opportunity to help others is also something I rarely let pass by. I met SGNE through a close friend who mentioned they needed some technological and IT support.

After helping out here and there, I quickly became very comfortable with the team and began assisting with more and more. Now, I'm involved with a bit of everything in terms of our operation. I love meeting new faces and knowing that I can be part of the effort to make a difference in people's lives and the wider community.

Les Cochrane

Kitchen Volunteer

My name is Les Cochrane. I started volunteering for Support & Grow a year ago. I run the Community Kitchen at Bertram Grange. I am the person you need to see when you need a cuppa or something warm to eat. When I'm not working in our 5* kitchen, I enjoy spending time with my family and my 3 grandchildren. I also enjoy long walks with my 4 dogs.

Les Forman

Artist and Volunteer

Hi, I'm Les! I was born in the beautiful North Shields and always call the North East my home. Currently, I run my own mosaics business as a self taught artist. I learned it all from practice and through consistency, it's starting to really take off. My connection to Support & Grow was made when I myself was needing help. I found out about the walk and talk group sessions and decided to come along. Being so amazed at how it was ran and how much it helped, I decided to volunteer myself to help the charity and others in need. Subsequently, I was offered a position on the team with a role that is always evolving and allows me to give back to everyone, whilst working alongside my SGNE family.

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