Working for tenants and residents


Michael Gelling OBE, CIHM (Hon) (Chairman)

Michael has been Chairman of TAROE Trust since it was established in 2013.

Michael is the Chairperson of his local estate Neighbourhood Forum, Palace Fields in Runcorn, Halton and was also a founder member of Runcorn Residents Federation, which traditionally covered a New Town area but has sadly been disbanded. Michael served on the local Council for sixteen years and held several key positions in that time including that of Vice Chair of Housing. Michael continued his voluntary work commitment in the housing arena through his membership of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England.

Michael served as a Director of the Housing Ombudsman Service representing TAROE for a full six- year period.

In Runcorn where he lives, Michael has been involved in many voluntary and community groups which cover the disciplines of community safety, poverty, disability, youth, welfare rights and drug issues.

Michael is Chair of the seventy (FTE) place Acorn Community Nursery, very proud to have been the Chair of the very successful Halton Credit Union from its inception in 1988 to 2017 and is equally proud to have been the Company Secretary of Halton Community Partnership Trust since 1996 to 2016, a one-stop shop for the voluntary sector.

Michael has a background in personnel and has served, since 1978, as a lay member of the Employment Tribunals Service and through that appointment has been the only Chairperson of the Liverpool Employment Tribunals Members’ Association and recently become Treasurer of the Council of Employment Tribunal Members Associations.

Martyn Kingsford OBE TD FRICS FCIH


Martyn has been a Trustee of TAROE Trust since 2014 and before then was Honorary Policy Advisor for TAROE from 2000.

He grew up in Bilborough, Nottingham and started his career with Nottingham City Council in 1963. Following senior appointments at Lambeth and at Thamesmead he became Director of Housing at Kensington and Chelsea in 1984 and then in 1995 Chief Execitive of RBKC Tenant Management Organisation leaving the TMO in 2001. For eight years, in the 1980s, Martyn was Honorary Policy Adviser to London Boroughs Association and co chair of the London Wide Homeless Working Party.

Martyn has chaired four Housing Associations over the past 40 years and has been Chief Executive of three Housing Organsations. He was a member of the NHF Tenant Involvement Commission and a member the team establishing the Nation Tenants Voice. Martyn, throughout his career, has been influenced by Colin Ward’s “Tenants take over” published in Anarchy, January 1968.

In 2014 Martyn was appointed an OBE for services to housing, tenants and community engagement.

Valerie Knight

Valerie worked in customer services from 2005 to 2017.

Valerie has extensive experience of volunteering at PA Housing to get residents voices heard and in scrutinising the services that PA Housing supplies to tenants.

Valerie is also Deputy Vice Chair of the Elmbridge tenants forum.

Valerie also sits on the PA Housing’s Complaints Panel and its Equality and Diversity panel.

Valerie also recently joined the Housing Ombudsman’s Residents Panel.



Nigel Bowness

Nigel has worked at a senior level in human resources and facilities management in local government. He is currently a Board member of Lewisham Tenants Fund and Lewisham Homes and Chair of its Service and Performance Committee, a member of the Healthwatch Lewisham Advisory Board and Lewisham Disabled Peoples Commission, and an Affiliate Tutor with Greenwich University’s under and postgraduate Social Work programme, with a particular interest in the role of housing in health and wellbeing from a tenant/resident perspective. He is particularly interested in sexual health and LGBTQ+ issues and the broader social justice agenda. His passion for tackling social inequality motivates every aspect of his voluntary work to empower and support his communities



Steve Hepworth

Steve is Chief Executive of Ongo which is a regional housing and community investment group based in Scunthorpe. He has worked in housing for over 30 years and has worked for both local authorities and housing associations. He has experience in most areas of housing operations and over the years his roles have included estate management, debt recovery, repairs and a variety of management positions.

Steve led the consultation work that resulted in the tenants of North Lincolnshire Council voting to establish a housing association and the formation of what is now Ongo Homes and has made tenant involvement a priority in his work. He believes passionately that tenants should have meaningful roles in decision making within their landlord organisations and has devolved decision making powers to Ongo’s tenant organisation.

Steve is an authentic and passionate leader who believes that success comes from working with engaged and positive people. He uses the combined strengths of the different companies in the Ongo Group to provide quality homes, deliver great landlord services and create opportunities to inspire people to reach their potential. Steve is Trustee of North Lincolnshire Citizens Advice.


Bill Prescott

Bill has worked in the regulated housing sector for more than 30 years. Initially, this was as a generic housing officer in a couple of large Liverpool housing associations. In addition to working at providing the range of landlord services for tenants, he developed specialisms in handling racial harassment cases and promoting tenant participation.

While subsequently working as a tenant participation officer, Bill set up both local tenants’ and residents’ groups and a landlord-wide tenants’ forum. He considers his primary responsibility in this role was to make sure that the tenants’ voice was heard and respected by the housing association.

Following a move to the south west, Bill has worked in the area of policy and procedure development in a LSVT housing association. While conducting process reviews across the spectrum of the housing services function, his aim is always to improve the tenant’s experience of housing services by taking an ‘outside in’ view of the process.

Bill says that, throughout his career, he has been driven by the belief that everyone has the right to live in a safe and secure home where they can fulfil the long-term potential for themselves and their family while contributing fully to their community.

Outside of work, Bill likes to explore the wonderful countryside around his Somerset home. He follows Liverpool FC and enjoys reading and cycling.


Joan Swift

I have been a tenant of PA Housing (previously Paragon) for 13 years and an involved resident for 10 years. I was encouraged to do this by a Scheme Manager in the hope it might help following a major episode of depression.

Currently I am Chair of the Resident Council/Customer Forum and a member of the PA Housing Customer Services Committee. I have also recently joined the Housing Ombudsman’ Resident Panel.

I am part of the PA Housing Scrutiny team and various other projects, including procurement projects. I have also spoken at national events.

Since the merger with asra it has been vital to work with Residents from a wide geographical spread to ensure that we work together.

For most of my working life I was an administrator in various positions.

I have three grown up children, grandchildren and a great granddaughter and love to spend time with them. My hobby is doing quite elaborated ‘doodles’ which I find is a wonderful way to relax.

Simon Randall CBE


Simon Randall has been closely involved with many aspects of housing as a solicitor specialising in housing, charities and local government. He was an elected member of a London Borough Council where he served as the Housing Committee Chairman and worked in a similar capacity on behalf of the former London Boroughs Association. He has also served on two housing association boards always championing the desirability of having tenants and residents participating in all aspects of the respective association’s work.


Fay Jackson

Fay is a Community Investment professional specialising in Grant Management, Fundraising, and Partnership Development.

Fay currently manages funding partnerships for a food retailer with the aim of bringing Communities together to create lasting change on the issues that matter most to them.  Previously Fay spent 13 years working for Trafford Housing Trust in roles which included Tenant Involvement and Scrutiny; Community Capacity Building; and Community Investment. Throughout her career Fay has viewed local Tenant Groups and Housing Associations as her key stakeholders for engagement in place based Community Development.

Fay is passionate about Social Action, ensuring everyone can have their voice heard and contribute to the issues they care about to strengthen their community.

In her spare time Fay enjoys getting outdoors with her two young children either on a bike or in her running shoes, (and in warmer weather with a tent!).


Monica Barnes MBE

Born in a small parish in Jamaica, Monica sadly lost her mother when she was aged seven.  She was brought up by her father and aunt (her mother’s sister). Her aunt had the opportunity to come to the UK in 1954 as part of the Windrush generation and she took Monica with her. They settled into her new life in Brixton, South London.

Monica went on to have three children of her own and, with housing being a major issue at the time, she was inspired to get involved. She wanted to have a positive impact and influence on social housing in the best way she could.  This eventually led Monica to volunteer and become an involved resident with her housing provider, now known as Southern Housing.

During her involvement which stretches over many years, Monica has held many different positions within the housing sector, including Chair of her landlord’s Resident Strategy Group. Monica was recognised for her achievements by being awarded an MBE in 2021 for helping to shape one of the most successful tenant involvement approaches in the social housing sector.

Monica remains committed and dedicated to helping residents and improving resident services.

Monica is delighted to be extending her knowledge of involvement in the housing sector by joining the TAROE Trust Board of Trustees.


Steve Bladen

Hello! I’m Steven, a full-time carer and an actively engaged resident.

As a social housing tenant, I am excited to embark on my new journey as a trustee at TAROE Trust.

Drawing from my first-hand experiences as a full-time carer and my active resident involvement in the community, I aim to provide valuable perspectives and insights as a “critical friend.”

By offering constructive feedback, thoughtful analysis, and meaningful suggestions, I aspire to contribute to the ongoing development and success of TAROE Trust.





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