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Chair and 3 Trustees SOFEA

SOFEA is a remarkable charity that positively transforms young lives and communities. Could you be their next Chair or new Trustee?

  • Location: South Midlands & Thames Valley (sites Didcot & Milton Keynes)
  • Salary: Unremunerated


SOFEA is a charity dedicated to helping people to transform their lives, operating in Didcot and Milton Keynes. They run education, employability and wellbeing programmes for young people.

SOFEA is a place with a difference. They enable people to transform their lives. One aspect of this is a therapeutic approach to learning which is designed to enable access to good employment and the ability to lead a happy and healthy life.

They have 2 sites (Didcot and Milton Keynes) and last year, distributed 2,000 tonnes of waste food — 150 tonnes per month — to charities (working with the charity Fare Share). SOFEA have community larders, an education provision and wellbeing teams on both sites. They offer many opportunities for young people and the wider communities.

For more information, please watch the videos below and listen to the podcasts – SOFEA SESSIONS.

SOFEA's values statement

“We are committed to supporting people to make a deep connection with themselves and their community. We do this by treating all members of our community with equal compassion and respect and accepting them as they are. As much as we completely accept people as they are, we refuse to accept any limitation on what they might achieve.

We believe in the restorative benefits of education work and social justice to support people’s innate resilience to achieve growth and their potential as human beings.”

SOFEA’s History

Richard Kennell, CEO & Founder of SOFEA, was a Deputy Head Teacher who saw how the education system was failing to reach many young people who, through unfortunate life events, were ending up on the edge. He, also, saw huge need in his community of Didcot – food poverty, digital poverty and social exclusion. What if he could help the young people to find themselves, find each other and reconnect to their community by giving something back to those most in need all at the same time? The young people could learn the vital life and work skills they needed to progress their futures and the community could benefit too. SOFEA was born.

What SOFEA does works, and has become what it is today thanks to a decade of first-class governance through the current Chair, Bernard Grenville-Jones, and the strong board which he has established.

With fellow Trustees, Bernard has supported Richard and the Executive Team to establish SOFEA, develop the model and grow it from Didcot to Milton Keynes.

That was, almost, ten years ago, in 2014. Since then, Richard has become CEO, growing a positive and compassionate team and enabling thousands of young people to help themselves and others across their community. The charity has developed significant partnerships with schools, local authorities, the police, the NHS and charities such as FareShare. They have also replicated the SOFEA model and created a second site in Milton Keynes.

Now that Bernard has completed his three terms, SOFEA needs a new Chair to support Richard with the positive trajectory of growth that SOFEA is already on, and also, to empower the charity to share their win-win model of support across policy and practice so that young people and communities, in need, across the UK, can benefit now. Bernard leaves the legacy of a strong board, an excellent governance structure – including a dedicated and skilled Clerk to the Trustees – as well as a founding CEO and Team who put young people and their individual needs above all else. SOFEA sees no limit to the future potential of young people and the communities they want to serve so they need an inspiring new Chair who shares this compassionate and positive vision of the future for the charity.

“At SOFEA, young people are seen, heard, and valued. They gain the qualifications and work skills they need to shape a positive future for themselves by helping people across their communities get the food and friends they need to survive.”

About the roles and who we are looking for

Could you be part of SOFEA’s next decade of evolution? The cost-of-living crisis and the post-covid impact on young people has made the need for SOFEA greater.

By joining the Board, you will be helping to grow a model that can, and is transforming the future for both young people and communities in a way that is truly compassionate and sustainable.

As well as the Chair, SOFEA is also seeking three additional trustees with the following expertise: Strategic Finance & Risk, Business Innovation & Fundraising, Operations and Compliance (including Regulated Activities).


A compassionate and dynamic leader with the highest levels of integrity in relation to good governance, board leadership and charity purpose. Someone who can be a strong ambassador for SOFEA and its model of transformation and enable and empower others to be advocates and influencers too. A talented, skilled, and committed person motivated by the difference that SOFEA can make to young people and communities in need today and tomorrow. Someone willing to form strategic alliances and build on the growth of the last decade for SOFEA so that more lives can be positively transformed. This will include ensuring SOFEA’s model is shared with the right people so that the charity can be an impactful thought leader in education, employment and community policy and practice.


SOFEA is seeking three additional trustees with the following skills:

  • Strategic Finance & Risk – attending the Finance and Risk Committee, this person is likely to be an experienced trustee or non-executive and qualified accountant or auditor who can strengthen the charity’s oversight as SOFEA scale their operations and take more risks.
  • Income Generation – this person will work closely with the CEO, Deputy CEO and income generation staff to support, guide and advise them as well as assure the Board that the income forecasts are realistic, the systems compliant with business and fundraising legislation and the appropriate controls in place to protect the organisation as they grow their income streams. They will also support growth by connecting the SOFEA staff with opportunities and encouraging the other trustees to do so.
  • Operations and Compliance, including Regulated Activities – this person might be a senior manager in a logistics or facilities environment that is highly regulated, such as food operations. They will bring additional oversight to the risks and regulations inherent in running complex facilities and distribution, warehousing and keeping people safe in work environments that are also learning environments.

If you are interested in joining SOFEA, please access the role description and application details via the ‘How to apply’ tab.

“In mainstream school I felt alone and hopeless but as soon as I came to SOFEA, I felt like I belonged and that I had a future again.”

SOFEA is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff to share this commitment. As part of their commitment, they need to ensure that all potential employees and volunteers satisfy their employment checks. Please note that where appropriate, shortlisted and/or potentially suitable applicants will be asked to undertake further checks, including references and an enhanced with barring lists DBS check.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Marie McQuade | marie@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07903 442646

Grant Taylor | grant@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07958 690184

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Marie McQuade

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Welcome from the outgoing Chair, Bernard Grenville-Jones

Bernard Grenville-Jones, Chair of SOFEA, outlines why you should get involved with SOFEA.








SOFEA's impact

SOFEA’s education, training and wellbeing programmes have had a profound effect on the people participating, with many starting a programme at SOFEA in distress and completing the programme with improved confidence, skills and qualifications to successfully transition into work or further study.

Over 1,000 people have been directly supported through one or more of SOFEA’s education, employability or wellbeing programmes in the last year.

Over 3,500 people are members of SOFEA’s Community Larders and several thousand have benefited through the provision of food to other organisations.

30 staff who have faced barriers to their employment continue to receive support related to their learning difficulties, mental health or personal circumstances.

66 young people completed our Study Programme, passing over 150 qualifications including English and Maths GCSE, with a success rate of over 88%.

Over 90% have progressed to education or employment and SOFEA continue to support the rest to do so.

The biggest impact of the training programme however is in the attitudes and mindsets of participants. They report a 33% rise in their general wellbeing and anecdotal evidence suggests profound change in individuals.

Watch this Short Film from a SOFEA learner to find out why you should join the charity.

Benefit to wider society

In the last year, SOFEA has redistributed 2,000 tonnes of food, 150 tonnes per month, which would have gone to waste, to over 150 organisations. Supported organisations report reduced costs and improved quality of food, enabling them to continue and improve their service to their users.

People, especially young people, in the local community have been enabled to gain employment benefiting themselves and their community as well as providing a workforce in a labour market, which remains tight.

Tens of thousands of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the local community have been able to access high quality nutritious food, improving their lives and enabling them to participate more fully in their own communities.

SOFEA’s Community Larder programme has 3,500 members, 85% of whom are on low income and therefore improving their circumstances. The additional membership benefits of this programme such as the access to other services is also making a difference.

SOFEA’s social prescribers have supported over 300 people, reducing their reliance on their GP and other health provision.

The CAMHS and Mental Wealth Academy work have helped to reduce waiting lists for mental health services and prevented some young people from entering these services.

SOFEA’s employability programmes have supported 300 people into, and closer to the labour market.

The in-work support progamme has enabled a high number of vulnerable staff (over two thirds of our staff have lived experience of issues related to our work) to sustain their employment in the face of difficulties.

SOFEA has an annual turnover of £2.7 million with over half its voluntary income coming from grants and donations and the rest of its income from funding to deliver its purpose projects.














Accessibility information

SOFEA is committed to advancing equality of opportunity, respecting and celebrating difference, eliminating discrimination, harassment and victimisation and fostering good relations.

SOFEA strive to create and maintain a working and learning environment in which everyone has the opportunity to participate fully, give of their best and achieve their full potential in a climate free from discrimination or harassment. We will treat all staff, learners, volunteers and others associated with SOFEA with fairness, respect and sensitivity.

It is the policy of SOFEA to recognise and encourage the valuable and enriching contribution from all who work and learn here and the rights of all individuals who come into contact such as prospective learners, volunteers and job applicants.

All staff, learners, volunteers and visitors to SOFEA’s sites have a right to equality of opportunity in accessing employment or services, irrespective of race, disability, gender, gender reassignment, age, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status, or socio-economic status, background or class.

SOFEA will actively challenge and tackle all forms of prejudice, discrimination and stereotypical attitudes. Any form of discrimination, harassment or victimisation carried out by an individual will be treated as a matter for possible disciplinary action.

Disabled Access Statement (DDA)

SOFEA will:

  • Promote equality of opportunity between disabled person and other persons.
  • Eliminate discrimination that is unlawful under the Act.
  • Eliminate harassment of disabled learners that is related to their disabilities.
  • Promote positive attitudes towards disabled people.
  • Encourage participation by disabled persons in public life.
  • Take steps to account of disabled persons’ disabilities, even where that involves treating disabled persons more favourably than other persons.
  • Promote fundamental British values including training for all employees on the Prevent Strategy.

    To access a full job description and application details,
    please fill out the form below.


    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the role description and person specification for the Chair and Trustees.

    SOFEA is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff to share this commitment. As part of their commitment, they need to ensure that all potential employees and volunteers satisfy their employment checks.Please note that where appropriate, shortlisted and/or potentially suitable applicants will be asked to undertake further checks, including references and an enhanced with barring lists DBS check.

    To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “SOFEA – Chair or Trustee” into the subject field.

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

    Marie McQuade | marie@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07903 442646

    Grant Taylor | grant@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07958 690184

    As a sector-leading executive search consultancy, we know the importance of creating recruitment processes which are fair, inclusive and free from bias. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and developing a process that values differences.

    If you have a disability that meets the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010, and you can show that you meet the ‘essential’ criteria described in the person specification, please let us know.

    If you experience any technical or accessibility difficulties, need help making an application, or have any additional support needs to be considered as part of the interview and selection process, please let us know.

    Recruitment selection processes are based on evidence of competence stated in the person specification and in relation to our values.

    Chair timetable

    Closing date: 9 a.m. Wednesday 13th December 2023
    Candidates informed of outcome: Friday 5th January 2024
    Interviews: Thursday 11th January 2024

    Trustee timetable

    Closing date: 9 a.m. Wednesday 20th December 2023
    Candidates informed of outcome: Thursday 11th January 2024
    Interviews: TBC

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and SOFEA are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We will send you an equality monitoring survey at the point of receiving your application, in the interview phase and at the time of placement. This ensures that our processes remain inclusive and equitable throughout, and provides us with important data to help us showcase our impact.

    The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018.

    The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

    Data Processing, Protection and Privacy Policy

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