Heart of Hastings is supported by a board of trustees. Trustees are hard working volunteers who help us make decisions and are responsible for making sure we do what we were set up to do. It’s a strategic role (“eyes on, hands off”), but with lots of scope to get involved in all that we do.
We welcome new trustees, especially local people and those with experience of boards, and with no experience of boards. We can train you so email if you want to know more.
Jay Kramer (Chair)
I was elected to the Heart of Hastings board of Trustees at the AGM in August 2019. I am privileged to be the current Chair working alongside the other Trustees. I am the representative on the Heritage Action Zone partnership board.
My interest in the Heart of Hastings was originally through doing a university assignment on the anthropology of development where I interviewed those who were involved in the Ore Valley Project alongside Jess and I became fascinated in the ideas being put forward for truly affordable housing and the organisation workshop concept.
Having got an excellent mark for my project, I wanted to put something back into the organisation and put myself forward for the board. Previously, I worked for thirteen years as a youth and community worker in inner London, came to the South East to work as a regional officer for a Trade Union and was an elected councillor on Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County for many years. I have lived in Hastings for 28 years and have spent a good few of them chairing The Bridge Community Centre from concept to reality.
Darren French (Vice Chair)
Darren is a Trustee of Heart of Hastings and represents Trustees on the WRNV Board.
He started his journey with Heart of Hastings CLT at the old power station site in Ore Valley, a site that he had grown attached to through living nearby and spending time on there while growing up. For him it started as a way to keep himself busy through some tough times. However, he very quickly became excited by the different approach to volunteering and projects they were involved with and soon gained the support of the local community, other volunteers, trustees and staff when he put his name forward to become a trustee.
Over time his knowledge and passion grew for other developments that were taking place in the eco system and how we are empowering the local community to make a difference. He has now become more involved with all aspects of the Hastings Commons and has recently become a director of WRNV. He’s very excited by the possibilities for local people and places that we have the opportunity to work with and help grow.
I have lived in Hastings since 2015 and my wife, Felicity Laurence and I have been shareholders and members of the investors’ collective since 2017; I joined the Board of Trustees in 2019. I am a musician and educator by profession, and recently retired as Director of Research at the Royal College of Music in London, where I remain as a part-time research professor. My commitment to Heart of Hastings comes out of my lifelong concern for social justice and the power of cultural participation to enhance people’s lives, and I see Heart of Hastings as part of the powerful community of creativity in this wonderful town where we have made our home.
Adam Wide (Treasurer)
Adam Wide is a retired Leisure, Tourism and entertainment guru who was founder and owner of Europe’s Largest Independent Entertainment Consultancy. He was head-hunted out of retirement to be Creative Director of an $850m theme park in Dubai, and subsequently Global Creative Director at Guinness World Records – seeking ways to monetise the famous brand. He now lives in St. Leonards with a view of the pier using his experience and energies to tackle urban regeneration, and much prefers it that way.
Sarah Macbeth is a socially responsible designer, researcher, activist and commoner. She has significant experience working in cooperatives and community activism. In 2015, she co-founded Transition Town Hastings as a platform for the local community to collaboratively experiment with low carbon solutions.
I started working in housing over 10 years ago. I’ve primarily worked in local authorities carrying out frontline roles in the homeless persons unit, including assessments of homeless single people and families to determine whether or not they qualify for temporary accommodation and assistance from the council. This was a very challenging role, dealing with people in moments of crisis and with limited solutions at my disposal. It exposed me to the failings of the current housing system, both in the private-rented sector (which is poorly regulated and prohibitively expensive to many) and in the social sector, where there is a chronic shortage of affordable and secure accommodation.
I managed a portfolio of supported housing services for young people, single adults and families, overseeing their move-on programme into the private-rented sector. A traumatic experience for so many people – private renting was often the cause of their homelessness.
Back then there seemed to be few alternatives. So, more recently, I started a masters in Sustainability and Adaptation Planning at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, which brought into focus the need for alternative approaches to society’s challenges. There I was introduced to models of community-led housing which inspired me to pursue a role where I could be part of the solution – rather than a cog in a broken system.
Spurred on by those experiences, I eventually moved away from the frontline and into a more strategic and project delivery role, this time in a small, socio-economic regeneration team in East London. In this team we’re tackling some of the same issues facing Hastings, namely:
- How can regeneration be more equitable and inclusive, where everyone benefits from the opportunities of a thriving local economy?
- How do we keep community wealth and assets within the local area?
I firmly believe that part of it is ensuring people have access to good quality, affordable and secure homes. Then, last summer, I moved to Hasting and was delighted to discover that this town has its own Community Land Trust, an innovative and alternative housing solution, and immediately contacted Shelley to find out how to get involved.
Today, it feels like a dream come true to be given the opportunity to contribute my time, skills and experience to this fantastically vibrant community. When I’m not thinking about community-led and sustainable regeneration, you’ll find me making pesto (you can use almost any green leaf or herb!), in the allotment growing said greens, or tentatively paddling in the sea.