Heath Gunn, CEO of Enham Trust, is a passionate and committed leader whose strategic vision, positivity, values, and drive to improve people’s lives have been instrumental to the transformation Enham Trust has undergone in the last four and a half years. His down-to-earth, open, and authentic approach has played a huge part in the cultural shift across the Trust, where they have gone from being a siloed and inward-looking charity to a collaborative and learning organization.
When Heath set course to turn the finances and culture of this now 100-year-old charity in early 2017, some really difficult decisions and realities were to be faced. Heath’s ability to translate the strategic direction of travel, bring people along on the journey and help his teams understand how vital each staff member’s contribution was to achieving a successful turnaround was an essential part of the eventual success of this change.
Over the last year, Heath’s role as CEO has gone through a few changes. As the pandemic started to gain traction early on, it became clear that the challenge ahead was to keep over 6000 disabled people and the staff safe. This meant Heath led everyone in closing the care services to external visitors and families, sending the office-based staff and social enterprise teams, who mostly have learning disabilities, home; and translating the raft of government guidance to help people the charity supports to understand what was happening.
As a priority, Heath’s role was to make clear, fast decisions in the people’s interests, Enham Trust supports, and the staff. As no one had been in this situation before, they looked to Heath to make those tough calls. As the pandemic stretched through 2020, his role became one focused on the wellbeing of Enham’s staff teams. He was helping to lift morale by reiterating how essential the work they were doing was to the lives of disabled people and ensuring that the senior leadership team had enough support to help them keep on top of their areas of the business and look after themselves.
“The key difference at Enham is the breadth of services we deliver – supporting disabled people with housing, care, and employment services means we touch on every area of their lives,” says Heath. “If you consider each of these areas – once someone with a disability has an accessible home that meets their needs, the next thing you find when you speak to them is that they want a package that supports them to be as independent as possible, living the way they would like.” To do this, Enham Trust works with the people they support and their families to co-produce their plans. This, in turn, naturally leads to people wanting meaningful occupation or work, which is where Enham’s social enterprises and employment services come in; to help people gain the social and economic independence which many take for granted.
In addition to the above – as a Disability Confident Leader, for the last three years, Enham Trust has worked with a range of employers to help them understand how they can employ a more diverse workforce and take advantage of the rich pool of potential employees the disabled population offers.
“We are also the main provider of Information Advice and Guidance services across the South West of England – supporting those with a direct payment or personal budget to employ their own care teams, giving thousands of disabled people the ultimate control over their care and support,” adds Heath. “Additionally, we support disadvantaged young people, between 16 & 19 to gain their Maths, English and Employability skills, in our Skills to Achieve centers across Hampshire. Here we support 200 learners every year, who would otherwise not be in employment, education, or training. We then help them to go on and find work.”
Enham Trust provides supportive and accessible environments for disabled people to live, offers personalized care that promotes their independence and access to activities and employment. In the past, they have used their century of experience in providing a range of adapted and accessible homes for people with disabilities. Now, post-turnaround, Enham Trust wants to get back to a place where they can start once more to develop accessible housing solutions for disabled people across the South.
To continue to deliver the quality of experience to the people Enham Trust support and their staff during a period of rightsizing and financial turnaround. Improving the governance and viability of the charity has been a truly outstanding team effort and sets the tone for years to come. “This has been possible because of the shared values and approach of the whole organization, because no matter where you look, or who you talk to, everyone has a common goal, which is to improve the lives of disabled people,” says Heath. “Our purpose is to have a positive social impact, enhancing the lives of those we support, which runs through all our operations, now and in our future strategy. The choice and control that our teams at Enham support people to have extends to every part of their lives.” By truly putting the individual at the center of their lives and decisions and providing services that support their dreams and aspirations, Enham Trust ensures that they can be as independent as possible.
Enham Trust has many exciting plans during their 2021/2022 Centenary year and beyond. They continue to refurbish and repurpose some of their real estate, including providing additional supported living accommodation. Their Enham 100 Challenge—a fundraising campaign for the Centenary, aiming to raise the money needed to continue to enable those they support to live, work, and enjoy life. “We are also launching a capital appeal for the refurbishment of our charity shop and café within Enham Alamein and plan to expand our social enterprise retail presence across the South with the objective of providing increased employment opportunities to disabled people,” adds Heath.
“We continue to expand the work of our Strive Disability Inclusive Employment Services, working with national big brands and local businesses to build their confidence in this area.”
Enham Place was a private estate which together with houses and other buildings totaled some 1027 acres. Following the Great War, it was selected as the first Village Centre for the medical treatment and training of ex-servicemen suffering from the effects of amputations, neurasthenia, and shell shock.
In 1919, King George V donated a large sum to the village which enabled Enham to start supporting disabled people. Enham Trust was incorporated as a charity in 1921 and HRH The Duchess of Gloucester, GCVO is its current Patron.