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Meet our Trustee Hugo Sintes

With experience of supporting communities all around the world, Hugo joined us in 2021 and sits on our Grants & Partnership Committee.

Trustee of Hammersmith United Charities, Hugo Sintes, is currently Director of Corporate Partnerships at The Big Issue Foundation. He has 20 years of experience supporting small businesses and local communities in different parts of the world from Africa to Latin America. 

As well as being a trustee, what do you currently do? 

I have spent the last 20 years or so supporting small businesses and local communities in different parts of the world, first with Oxfam in Africa and Latin America, and most recently with various housing associations in different parts of the UK. My current job is with The Big Issue Foundation. As their Director of Corporate Partnerships, I work with companies that will support our mission, which is to enable vendors, typically people who have experienced homelessness, rebuild their lives by selling the magazine and developing new skills and local connections.  

What is your connection to Hammersmith?  

I grew up in Spain, but came to the UK to study in 2001 and have lived in Shepherd’s Bush for most of that time since. My partner and I love it here, and we connect with our community in different ways, through the local schools that our kids attend, local associations, sports, and restaurants! We love the buzz and diversity that Hammersmith offers.  

Can you tell us why you decided to become a trustee in your local area?  

I wanted to know more about my community and try to use my experience and skills to give something back. It’s also an opportunity to gain new skills and grow professionally. 

Since joining Hammersmith United Charities, what’s something you found out about the area? 

I’ve loved visiting and meeting residents in our two almshouses. More generally, I’ve been impressed with how many people and organisations try to support Hammersmith to be a vibrant and inclusive place to live.  

What do you see in the future for the Hammersmith community? 

I love it when communities build links and bridges, and businesses and people with different talents join in to help. There’s a lot of that in Hammersmith, and since joining HUC, I’ve seen a lot more than I knew existed! This gives me hope we have strong values and skills at hand. The expert advice provided by organisations such as H&F Law Centre, Citizens Advice or Crosslight is essential, and initiatives such as Barons Court Project and the Upper Room key for people at risk of homelessness. Also, H&F Giving is helping build even stronger connections and support in our community. There’s a long way to go still, but I think Hammersmith can become an example for London and the whole country, and I’m proud to be part of Hammersmith United Charities as we try to do our bit.  

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

When the working day is over, I spend time with my kids, but I would not call that relaxing! When I am on holidays, I love listening to the sound of the sea. I’d advise anyone to sit in a garden or park nearby and watch and listen to nature. At Hammersmith United Charities, we believe the gardens in our almshouses are very important to our residents.  My two boys and I love playing football. They train on Saturday with a club in White City and you’ll see us often in any of the local parks kicking a ball. I grew up in Minorca, and we also love going back whenever it’s possible to see my family.  

What is your favourite book or film? 

I’ll watch any James Bond movie and re-read Tintin and Asterix comics in any new language I’m trying to learn! I also enjoy listening to music.  

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a trustee for a local organisation? 

My advice is that you research organisations which work on topics that matter to you, then  write to them to ask how you can help, it might be as a trustee, or in other ways.   


Find out more 

Opening our doors to older people in need of a home

We're inviting older people on a low income who need an affordable new home to tour our almshouses.

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We’re looking for new trustees.

Join our friendly and ambitious team and help a thriving charity make a difference in our community

Who we are looking for
We are looking for people willing to bring energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to the role, and who will broaden the diversity of thought and experience on our board.

Specifically, we are looking for people to contribute to our Housing and Property Committee or Finance and Investment Committee and so will prioritise applicants with recent Senior Management experience of social housing, care for older people, or who have strong financial skills.

Hammersmith is one of the most diverse areas of London and we are committed to developing a Board which is representative of the communities we work with. If you have not been a Trustee before, please do not be put off getting in touch, we will be happy to have an informal chat and if you join us will make sure you have a good induction and access to ongoing training opportunities and support.

We would love to hear from people who have a strong connection to Hammersmith and Fulham but welcome applications from anyone in the Greater London area.

Commitment
We hold 4 Board meetings a year which last for approximately 2 hours plus an annual strategic planning/board development meeting. Trustees are also asked to join a board sub-committee which meets 4 times per year. Meetings are usually held at 5.30 with the option to join remotely.

Please read the detailed recruitment pack for more information

To apply or find out more
Moon Executive Search has been appointed as our search partner. To apply or arrange for an informal chat please contact recruit@moonexecsearch.com FAO Sandy Hinks and quoting ref MC2329. , If you wish to apply please send a copy of your latest CV to Sandy together with a supporting statement (no more than one side of A4) explaining your motivations for applying for the role, how your skills, knowledge and experience match the role outline and what you can additionally bring to the role. Please be clear on your application whether you are best able to contribute to our Housing and Property Committee or the Finance and Investment Committee.

Closing date for applications is 7th April.

We want you to have every opportunity to demonstrate your skills, ability and potential; please let Sandy know if you require any assistance or adjustment so that we can help with making the application process work for you.

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Parenting, the Funpact way

When her children approached the pre-teen years, Elise Pacquette became concerned that she knew nothing about what it was like growing up in today's society. How could she lead children into independence in a world very different to the world she grew up in?

“Parenting is tough, really tough. While some think that once kids start to become more independent it gets easier – well, in some ways it gets harder.

So the parents/carers go to parenting classes, teens go off to PSHE classes at school. But they are getting different information, at different times. As a parent myself I just couldn’t understand that there were no courses for parents and young people to attend together.

It didn’t make sense to me that this didn’t exist, so I set it up myself. Now Funpact enables parents/carers and their children to come together, have fun and learn about independence, forming a firm foundation for further discussion at home together.

We run transition to secondary workshops for year 6s and their parents/carers, helping them both feel ready for the next chapter in their lives. Our course, Bridging the Gap, focuses on the social, emotional, financial and practical aspects of growing up. Ambition 2 Success is run as a one-day workshop in schools for both parents/carers and pupils to attend. It helps them create a positive trajectory for their lives and learn strategy and problem solving skills.

It’s not been at all easy – the learning curve to get Funpact to where it is now has often been pretty much vertical. I am often self-medicating on chocolate under my duvet! My background – as an illustrator, painter, stage manager, sign language interpreter, prop making tutor – didn’t help me much when setting up Funpact. I had no idea what I was doing but I was driven by an unrelenting passion to see change in how families are supported towards their children’s independence. And one thing I do know about myself is that I have grit.

And now there are so many stories of families who have come up to us and told us of the impact courses have made well after they have attended them. That the course helped the bond between them and their child, helping them better understand each other.

I remember one teen who was really struggling in school, and didn’t open up to his mum at all. Through our course that relationship started to grow and he started to share some of the stuff that was going on for him. The parent was then able to give him the support he needed and everything got sorted out.

There was also a father whose work shifts meant he hardly saw his son. But he managed to come to the first session of a six-week course and enjoyed it so much he changed his shifts so he could attend the course and spend more time with his son. So it’s not just what we explore during the courses but the relationships they help.

We are indebted to our youth alumni, who help us regularly update our sessions based on their expertise and lived experience. And I can honestly say that without Hammersmith United Charities’ funding we probably wouldn’t exist today. Hammersmith United Charities gave Funpact our first ever grant and have supported us ever since as we have grown. Through this funding we can now support year 6 pupils in over 20 schools in Hammersmith and Fulham, run Bridging the Gap in five schools and three community venues and Ambition 2 Success in five schools.

Up until now, I have been working alone in the back room, but this year because of our Hammersmith United Charities grant, I will have two new team members to join me for a few hours a week to help us grow. This is incredibly exciting!”


Find out more 
Picture gallery – Funpact at work:
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“My new home is a gift”

It was a big life change for Lorraine when she retired and moved to Sycamore House a few years ago. But her lovely flat and its newfound security has ‘changed her life’, she says – and she’s busier than ever.

“I came to Sycamore House two years ago, having lived in Barons Court for about 16 years. I’d been having all sorts of problems with tenants, drugs and dealers. There were lots of stairs, and my flat had been broken into. It just felt like time to move.

I found out about Sycamore House via a friend. It’s absolutely amazing. I just love the flat; it’s bigger than the one I was in before. There is a wonderful garden at the back – the place absolutely shone in summer time. It’s lovely to go out and sit, and enjoy time with others you’re friendly with. I think I can name nearly all of the 50 or so people who live here now.

There’s lots on socially here at Sycamore House so I involve myself in that as much as I wish – I usually go to the coffee morning and catch up with everyone on a Thursday. I’ve made some very good friends here. We have lots of celebrations and parties, including a yearly fundraiser where family friends can come along, and the local mayor visits too.

The best thing about Sycamore House is the security and safety, and having the help there whenever you need it. Because my family is in Northern Ireland, I don’t have any immediate family nearby. So this community is perfect, because as and when I need support, it’s there.

Chris, Sycamore House’s scheme manager, is an excellent support – he helped with the paperwork that had to be done when I moved in, and now we keep in touch every day via Whatsapp. I know I can go and see him in person if I need particular help with something.

Chris helped me with getting housing benefit, which I qualified for after I retired a couple of years ago. I’d never been on benefits in my life so I was a complete novice and didn’t know anything about it. But Chris helped me navigate the system which was a big relief.

I was very apprehensive when I retired and moved out of my old flat to come here. But it’s changed my life. My eyes have been opened by all the new volunteering I’ve done in the local area: I work at the food bank, Charing Cross Hospital chemo ward, and have applied for work at Maggie’s too.

This flat is a gift; I thank God every day that I made the move. Life is good.”


Find out more 

We provide safe and affordable sheltered housing in Hammersmith with beautiful, award-winning gardens.

 

Lorraine with Sycamore House scheme manager Chris
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5 minutes with…Lisa Da Silva, Head of Housing and Property

We’re really happy to welcome Lisa to Hammersmith United Charities. Lisa is responsible for ensuring our almshouses are of the highest quality and meet the needs of our residents.

What’s involved in your new role?

My role as Head of Housing and Property is to lead the sheltered housing operations for the charity. I will be responsible for delivering a safe and high-quality housing service meeting statutory and regulatory requirements. I will also be responsible for ensuring that the support services provided to residents meet their health and wellbeing needs.

What are you looking forward to most about your new role?

I am looking forward to working as part of a smaller team and bringing my experience and knowledge to the table. Continuing in an almshouse charity setting is advantageous as I feel I will be able to hit the ground running to continue to deliver homes that are safe and well maintained, as well as a high-quality service on behalf of Hammersmith United Charities to the residents.

What sort of work have you been doing previously?

I have over 25 years’ experience of working in the housing sector, the majority of which has been spent in supported housing for older people. I have experience of managing both sheltered and extra care properties and I am keen to share my knowledge and experience as well as continuing to learn myself.

What do you like about the area?

It has been several years since I worked in an urban, vibrant setting with dispersed sites, so I am really excited about this aspect. I am very keen to familiarise myself with the wider community as the setting should lead to lots of opportunities which will be beneficial to the residents.

What sort of things bring you joy outside of work?

I really enjoy spending time with my family and socialising with friends over dinner or a catch-up coffee. I have to be honest though, I can often be found with my nose in my Kindle – there is nothing as relaxing as a good book.


Find out more 
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