Margaret has had a varied career in the public, cultural and civil society sectors.
At the Big Lottery Fund she led the England regional team, developing ambitious partnership programmes that tackled social inequality and invested in skills, capability and talent at local level. Her main achievement was to set up the pioneering Local Trust, a £200m initiative providing social investment and support to 150 disadvantaged neighbourhoods in England.
She’s worked in a range of social enterprises, and leading charities and has been a consultant to many civil society organisations helping them to adapt to change, fundraise and transform their working practices. She’s currently a Director with Pilao Labs, a new service supporting better access to digital services.
Dr Jenny Blythe MRCGP MPH FHEA DRCOG DCH DFFP
Jenny lives and works as a GP in East London. She first became aware of Bags of Taste through her medical student teaching at Barts and The London, wanting students to understand some of the wider issues that can impact the local community. Along with Alicia, she co-organised sessions for students to gain experience of Bags of Taste’s courses, even doing some cooking themselves.
With an academic interest in health inequalities and cross-sector working, Jenny is now studying for a PhD in public health at the London School of Hygiene alongside her GP work, and hopes she can bring her medical and educational eye to the Bags of Taste board.
Babs Fry is the Director of Operations and Company Secretary. Babs has been with Bags of Taste through its whole journey and was a student on the pilot course back in 2014.
Since then, Babs, a mother of 5, has not only cooked most of our recipes but became a volunteer for some time and even taught some of our courses.
Now Babs works part-time at our HQ and continues to cook our delicious recipes and looks forward to our supporting continuing expansion throughout the UK.
Nicholas is a barrister specialising in complex commercial and property disputes. Early in his career he worked for Local Authorities and Registered Social Housing providers and had first-hand experience of the problems faced by the people Bags of Taste can help, and realised the difference that Bags of Taste can make to their lives.
"During my early years as a barrister, I would frequently represent housing associations in rent possession proceedings in the courts. These were generally caused by rent arrears, often below £1,000. In many cases, the tenants were victims of problems with the payment of their benefits. The difference that having even £700 extra per year would have made to these tenants is enormous; these were families who were going to lose their home because they simply did not have enough money. Their arrears would accrue slowly, often through a weekly shortfall of just £10-£15, but this would inevitably escalate to a level where the landlord had to commence legal proceedings.
The landlord’s legal costs of a simple possession claim are usually in the region of £1,000-£2,000, and of course there is no realistic way this can ever be recovered from tenants. Given that are approximately 100,000 possession claims issued every year, the cost to landlords are enormous.
When I saw that Bags of Taste was providing empirical evidence of household savings of £1,400 per year, I knew that this scheme had the potential to have a meaningful financial impact on both landlords and tenants. Given that people in social housing are often isolated, the communal experience of attending a Bags of Taste course, of cooking together and eating together, would be an invaluable opportunity for social interaction.
I know that people working within social housing providers go to tremendous lengths to try and help people having problems paying their rent, and a systematic investment in a scheme that works, which Bags of Taste does, could massively reduce the extent of rent arrears."
Michael has worked in the Fund Management industry for the last 8 years, investing in companies across the Industrial and Financial sectors. He began his career at Schroders after graduating from Oxford University with a degree in Classics, and for the last 3 years has been at Lancaster Investment Management where he is now a Partner.
In his spare time he’s most likely to be found reading, cooking, walking, or playing tennis – although much less of all since his first child was born back in December! He is a passionate believer in the importance of social mobility, equality of opportunities, and the role of the charity sector in addressing problems unsuitable for the public or private sectors to tackle.