Michael has eighteen years experience of operating in complex political and organisational environments Michael is skilled at managing complex diversity and cohesion challenges at international, national and local level.
Until recently Michael was the Service Head, One Tower Hamlets, at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Michael was the corporate lead for equalities, cohesion, partnerships. With his track record of delivering consistently effective services, under Michael’s leadership Tower Hamlets was the second local authority nationally to be assessed as ‘Excellent’ against the Equality Framework for Local Government in 2010, the first be validated at Level 5 (the highest) of the Equality Standard (in 2006) and has been the highest performing London council in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2012 for seven years running.
His other recent achievements have been:
- Building and nurturing successful partnership relationships to manage complex and controversial events e.g. the proposed EDL march in September 2011
- Leading UK involvement, with the Ministry of Justice, in the EU project on human rights and local government, coordinated by the Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna
- Peer assessing excellent diversity and equality practice in a range of organisations including Transport for London and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service
- Working with the Centre for the Study of Migration, Queen Mary University of London, to compare the migrant experience in inner London and Shropshire
Between January 2010 and March 2011 Michael was the National Adviser for Equalities and Cohesion at the Local Government Association (formerly the IDeA), promoting and encouraging good practice nationally and internationally.
Ann has extensive experience in community engagement and development work, with particular reference to building good community relations; she has expertise in organisational development, change management and partnership working. She also has the rare mix of 20 years senior management experience, with the academic rigour gained from her university teaching and research experience.
As a senior manager in highly performing teams and services in local authorities in Yorkshire and the North East she has developed and implemented policy and strategy for improving community involvement, community cohesion, neighbourhood development and voluntary and community sector participation. Ann has also been a Lecturer at Bradford and Durham Universities at both Graduate and Undergraduate levels.
Tariq Bashir has many years’ experience of facilitating dialogue and difficult conversations. He has worked in an on-going partnership with the Programme for a Peaceful City, based in Bradford University, holding conversations with communities in Bradford.
Currently Tariq is Project Manager of ‘Who Is Your Neighbour?’ a South Yorkshire project that holds safe space dialogue in white communities targeted by the far right as places where they think their ideology could take hold. This safe space dialogue allows people to be honest and to say things ‘you’re not allowed to say’ while also providing space for reflection and challenge.
Tariq also currently works as an associate with Together for Peace, a Leeds based group, where he is co-facilitator of a Jewish-Muslim dialogue process and an interfaith dialogue process with a group of community activists.
Tariq has worked as a facilitator in association with the Centre for Good Relations and International Alert and for The British Council and The Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Mark is a Talk for a Change associate. Mark joined Newcastle City Council in 2007 to develop the authority’s first stand-alone Community Cohesion Strategy. Building on this, he was responsible for developing the council’s Cohesion Mainstreaming Framework, a practical guide which supports council services and other partners, with a range of tools and support, to better understand their impact on cohesion and embed more preventative approaches in their core business. The Framework approach has been cited as good practice by LGiD (formerly IDeA) and attracted interest from the Department for Communities and Local Government and a number of other local authorities. Mark coordinates closely with ARCH, the Newcastle-based community safety project responsible for tension management ( and now also Prevent) which has also been widely recognised for its good practice.
Mark has also worked directly with communities in a variety of contexts to assess the impact of community-based activities on community cohesion and design and support appropriate responses. This includes, for example, assessing potential conflict over a planning application by a minority faith community for a prominent new place of worship, supporting the group to pursue their community’s interests in a way which addressed wider community tensions.
Prior to working for the local authority Mark both worked and volunteered across Tyne and Wear, in a range of roles involving supporting vulnerable and excluded groups; community development; anti-racism; and empowering community responses to extremist threats to cohesion.
Chris Ford has worked with diverse marginalised communities in the North East of England for over 20 years. His work is aimed at stimulating and supporting personal, organisational and sectoral development on the edges and interfaces of practice, policy and theory. He is committed to working with people to improve their lives through collectively developing understanding , knowledge and resources.
In recent years Chris has worked directly with people who are homeless, have mental problems, are involved with the criminal justice system, refugees, asylum seekers, and older people with complex health needs. A commitment to participatory approaches informs his work in organisational and sector development. Chris has considerable experience of joint working and the more formalised infrastructures within the community and voluntary and public sectors.
Chris teaches at the Newcastle University Business School and is on the editorial board of the Community Development Journal, published by OUP. He is developing work on the transferability of teaching / learning methods from formal education settings to informal practice focussed contexts. He has a continuing focus on the impact of different funding styles and consequences of this for the conversations that organisations have about their impact and value/s.