Welcome to Ara, an organisation that has played a big part in my life since 2006. It is an honour and a privilege to head up such a fast moving and forward thinking organisation.

With a great team of volunteers, staff, and Board of Trustees, for over 30 years we have been providing much needed and respected services to the most vulnerable people in our communities. All of our focus is on helping people make life better for themselves, their families/friends, and the wider community. One comment we received about our services summed this up for me:

“Ara helped me to go from helpless to helpful”. We can honestly say that recovery is part of our DNA.

We passionately believe that people can change and recover, which means not acknowledging or accepting that this is “as good as it gets”. We will do everything we possibly can to help people improve their functioning, wellbeing and quality of life, from whatever the starting point. We have hope and ambition for all that use our myriad of Supported Housing, Gambling, or Mental Health services.

We also know that the day we believe that we have “cracked it” is the day we have completely got it wrong, and that’s why we listen to all of the folk that use our services, looking for constant and continual improvements.

At Ara we know that we cannot have these great ambitions and do it alone, which is why we work hard to be problem solvers for our funders and commissioners, build trustworthy and honest relationships with our stakeholders and partners, and are ambitious for the folk we serve.

If you are looking for help, or looking to help, please do not hesitate to get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

Best wishes

Chief Executive.

Meet the Team
Graham England
Graham EnglandChief Executive Officer
Graham has been CEO at Ara for 5 years. He is an expert in the health and social care sector, with 20 years’ experience in third sector organisations, 5 years within local authority social services departments, and 3 years within the NHS. He has considerable experience in service development, delivery and commissioning.
He also has substantial skills, knowledge and experience from working in the fields of problem gambling, substance misuse, early interventions, young people’s services, supported housing and mental health services in a range of settings (including community services, residential, and criminal justice environments)
Areas of Expertise: Service Design; Strategic and Business Planning; Change Management; New Business and Service Development; Service Improvement and Redesign; Stakeholder and Relationship Management; Mentoring and Development; Contract & Performance Management
Andrew Ridley
Andrew RidleyFinance Director& Deputy CEO
Andrew is responsible for Finance, IT, Administration, and is also Company Secretary. He has worked for Ara since 2006 having previously worked in housing, health, and for a large accountancy firm.
Robbie Thornhill
Robbie ThornhillChief Operating Officer
Robbie joined Ara as COO after a career as a management consultant, specialising in programme and project management, business transformation, and strategic planning. Robbie holds an MBA, and degrees in Sociology and Social Research Methods.

Across a broad career, he has worked with various government departments and organisations across different sectors to drive operational excellence and ensure delivery of goals. Robbie is passionate about promoting recovery and ending homelessness, and is proud to represent a vibrant, diverse, and forward-thinking charity like Ara.

Chloe Diamond
Chloe DiamondOffice Manager
Chloe has worked for Ara since 2012, starting as a volunteer. She has worked in a variety of roles with Ara, positioning her well for her current Office Manager role. Her background in teaching and marketing enables her to apply her varied experience and skill set with dedication to Ara’s goals.
Chloe passionately believes that everyone should have the opportunity to recover. She loves being part of a team that is so committed to the care of others and a Charity that changes lives.
Richard Chilvers
Richard ChilversHousing Manager
Richard joined Ara from St Mungo’s where he was deputy manager of a high support hostel for nearly 3 years. Before that he worked with Golden Key as homelessness project officer and helped set up the Bristol Churches Winter Night Shelter project. He has previously worked with Oxfam and Save the Children as a humanitarian aid project officer, including travel to Somalia, Afghanistan and Burma. He has also worked as a communications manager and journalist on a regional newspaper. He has worked in the charity sector for most of his career and is enjoying the new challenge of leading the Drug and Alcohol Pathway in Bristol.
Guy Hawker
Guy HawkerGambling Service Manager
Guy joined Ara as the Gambling Service NGSN Manager in 2022, having previously worked for Ara in 2011 managing Community Services. Guy is very happy to be back as part of a supportive and innovative charity, supporting those affected by gambling related harms and leading the development and growth of the service.

Guy has a background in management, leadership and counselling, and has worked in the drug and alcohol sector for the past 23 years, managing teams to deliver various treatment models within residential and community settings.

Rob Parker
Rob ParkerGambling Projects Manager
Rob joined Ara in 2020 as Education & Training Lead for South & West Wales on our Youth Outreach Programme. He is passionate about using his own lived experience to help and support others and to drive forward Ara’s project work.

Rob became Gambling Projects Manager in April 2022 and is proud to represent a charity that can make such a difference to people’s lives.

Helen Kovacs
Helen KovacsHead of Business Development
Meet the Board

Tony Collins (Chair)
Business Development Consultant

David Thomas
Retired Probation Service Manager

Chris Shepherd
Head of Innovation

Latoya Copsie

Samantha Pollock
Head of Incentives Development