Bishop Toby Howarth

Bishop Toby Howarth

Toby Howarth is Bishop of Bradford. Toby brings to the board his experience of working nationally on inter religious affairs and a deep commitment to work to discover how we can live together differently and well. One of his priorities in his role as Bishop of Bradford is to seek to impact on cohesion and so engagement with The Linking Network is part of this work.

Denise Poole

Denise Poole has a background in adult education and community development. A priest and school governor, living and working in Bradford, she has been instrumental in setting up and supporting a range of projects in multicultural, multi-faith areas, addressing poverty, community fragmentation and exclusion.  She is a trustee of Near Neighbours and is committed to deepening associations between people.

Wahida Shaffi

Wahida Shaffi lives in Bradford and has over 20 years’ experience of working with diverse communities from across the UK.

She is a qualified Social Worker, Vocational Assessor and Trainer and author of the book Our Stories Our Lives: Inspiring Muslim Women’s Voices, published by Policy Press.

She completed her MA in international politics and security studies at the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies. Since then she has gone on to facilitate, deliver training, curate stories, complete research, develop, direct and manage programmes and produce films on a wide range of issues related to equality, diversity, participation, gender, conflict and interfaith both locally, nationally and internationally including in Sri-Lanka, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Romania and  Pakistan with particular focus on gender and young people.

Before becoming the national Director of the Catalyst Programme (Church Urban Fund) focusing on young people based in London, she was the West Yorkshire Coordinator for Near Neighbours where she oversaw Grants and Catalyst Programmes in the North of England and the Midlands. She has also held the position of Director hope National Women’s Programme Lead for the Christian Muslim Forum; pioneering their national women’s programme, conducting research & exploring the issues affecting women of faith across the UK.

She is currently finalising the last phase of her Travel Fellowship exploring faith inspired peace building initiatives in India, Pakistan and Nepal and working on a freelance basis.

Zoe Mawson

Zoe Mawson is the Headteacher at Beckfoot Heaton Primary School who is determined to help all children achieve a great life.  Rooted at the centre of that drive is the understanding that children need to feel a deep sense of belonging in order to thrive.  The Linking Network plays a critical part in developing this and then helping children to use it to appreciate the people and the world around them and I feel privileged to contribute to its work however I can.

Yvette Thomas

Yvette has worked with Buckinghamshire Council for the past 20 years – initially as a School Improvement Adviser and currently as Equalities and School Improvement Manager for Children’s Services. An educator for the past 30 years she has worked in a range of educational institutions and has Secondary headship experience. Yvette has during her career also been seconded to UNESCO and UNICEF working on flagship projects. Bringing schools together from different contexts has been an area of work that Yvette has been involved in both in the Caribbean and UK. For her efforts in 2000 she was presented with the Outstanding UNESCO Associated Schools Partnership Award for the Caribbean and Latin region.  She has spoken at national conferences on partnership working with schools on Community Cohesion issues and has supported over 60 schools in her County via The Linking Network to work in pairs on the diversity and community cohesion agenda. Yvette is also co-author of a chapter in a book entitled ‘Education in the Commonwealth Caribbean and Netherland Antilles’ (2014). Yvette has a passion for training and regularly delivers training to teachers, senior leaders including school Governors. She has annually supported WWFC and Show Racism the Red Card to deliver events at Adams Park for Primary pupils in the local area. Yvette proudly sits on the Show Racism the Red Card SE Advisory Group and has been inducted into their Hall of Fame. As an advocate for equalities in sport she sits on the LEAP Board and supports the sports and healthy lifestyles education agenda in local schools

To date Yvette insists her greatest achievement has been raising three well rounded and balanced children who she adores.

Ameerah Turner Desai

Young Trustee