Meet the Team

Our team are a dedicated workforce with a passion for supporting unpaid carers.  Each member of the team specialises in a condition specific area to support the demand in the region.  Get to know us a little better by reading our profiles.

Helen Hunter crop

Helen Hunter

Chief Executive Officer

Helen has worked extensively in the third sector and brings a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience to the charity. Helen is a trained counsellor, experienced in contract management and building strong partnerships.

Prior to joining us, Helen was Director of Development at Best Beginnings which is a charity supporting parents in giving their children the best start in life. Helen spent 3 years developing commissioned services around the UK and raising the profile of the charity's work at a national level.  Helen has a strong background in income generation from working with Local Authorities, NHS Acute and Community Trusts and other third sector providers.

Helen also spent 4 years as the National Partnership Manager at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) where she was instrumental in setting up peer support programmes and support groups across the UK.

Helen has been involved in delivering programmes where innovative health technology resources were used to enhance physical and mental health outcomes for vulnerable families, which were firmly mapped onto to the pathways within health and social care sector.

She is married with three children and has strong ties to the local area.

Helen’s vision is to collaborate with staff and partner agencies to build on their existing strengths and to develop and grow the organisation for a successful future.


Jo Eaton

Practice Lead

Learning Disability Lead

Jo qualified as a Social Worker in 1999. She has worked in social care for 35 years and has extensive experience in managing adult and children’s homes. She has also been a volunteer advocate. Throughout her career she has always had a passion for supporting people with learning disabilities and continues this at the Carers Centre where she leads on aspects of support.  Since joining the Carers Centre Jo has provided support to over 100  adult carers and maintains a caseload to develop best practice within the team.  Jo is responsible for developing and promoting practice using a person centred approach and is the practice educator for student social workers in partnership with York University.

Jo is also the safeguarding lead for the Carers Centre and often deals with a range of complex cases.


Penny Southall

Service and Operations Lead

Penny has worked for third sector health and social care providers for over 25 years. Working as a Registered Service Manager in a large supported living service in our area and more recently as a Quality Improvement Manager for a large charity in the North of England. She has particular experience working with and supporting adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health issues and has experience of being an unpaid carer in her personal life.

The Service and Operational Lead is responsible for ensuring the service provided to unpaid carers is in line with Objectives and the Mission of the organisation. By leading, supporting and developing the team this enables a consistently high quality service and ensures the best possible outcomes for carers. Capturing and evaluating outcomes from support provided, this role can provide evidence to ensure compliance with contracts as well as ascertaining the value and impact the service has to people. Penny strongly advocates for collaborative working, development of services and continuous improvement.


Emma Felinski

Young Adult Carer Support Worker

Parent Carers & Autism Lead

Emma started her career working with young people attending summer camps in America, this lead her to persuing a career in youth work, her roles have involved supporting the youth justice system and vulnerable young people within the care system. Emma started working for Hambleton and Richmondshire Carers Centre in 2017 as a Young Adult Support Worker.  Her role provides support to young adult carers aged between 16 to 35.  This age group have very specific issues and Emma has embraced her role wholeheartedly.

Emma is a mum of one, and a military wife, this has given her a greater understanding of issues around parent carers, and living within a military setting. Emma is keen to support Carers to achieve within educational and work settings.  Emma strives to promote Young Adult Carers within the community and continues to build relationships with other agencies and professionals.



Hayley Broadhurst

Support Worker

Groups & Activities

Hayley qualified as a Social Worker in 2013, focusing most of her career on supporting Children and Young People through difficult times; ensuring their happiness & safety are always the priority.

Hayley has opted to work as the Groups and Activities Coordinator for Hambleton and Richmondshire Carers Centre as she strongly believes in the importance of giving young people opportunities to learn new skills, make friendship networks, and develop self-confidence to enable them to develop into well rounded adults.

Hayley’s main goals through this project are to give young carers & young adult carers more opportunities to have a break from caring, to help the young carers and young adult carers to have their voices heard by the county’s big decision makers and most importantly, to have lots of fun being young!

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Jennifer Smithson

Support Worker

Adult and Young Carers

Jennifer qualified as a primary school teacher in 1996 and has worked at schools in Cambridge and Gloucestershire, as well as across North Yorkshire and County Durham.  She has always had an interest in working with children who have learning difficulties and disabilities and was SENCO until she took a career break.

Personal experience and working as a supply teacher across the county made Jennifer realise how many parents and children are affected by having a caring role and she decided to re-train as a counsellor.  She has worked as a counsellor at a local hospice and in that time became very aware of how little support there is for carers and the bereaved, in North Yorkshire.

Jennifer uses a person-centred approach to support young and adult carers; she listens carefully, enabling carers to realise they are not alone, but also encourages them to become involved in decision making, so they develop a sense of control around a situation that often feels out of control.


Linda Meade

Senior Support Worker

Diane F

Diane Ferguson

Adult Carer Support Worker

Ex-forces Support Lead

Diane joined us in 2017 and her role is specific to the Ex- Forces Support North Yorkshire Project; a 3 year programme to support veterans aged 65+. Diane may also support generic carer cases too.

Diane has some practical experience of caring for a family member but professionally she has a varied work history on a broad spectrum, working in Advocacy and specialising in Self-Advocacy for people with learning disabilities, ensuring a voice is heard is at the heart of her approach.  More recently Diane has worked in Adult Social Care for NYCC Health and Adult Services and worked as a Social Care Coordinator locally.

Diane initially trained as a Registered Nurse for people with learning disabilities so has extensive health  experience too and is able to use both health and social care knowledge in a holistic manner taking a whole family approach, as if one member requires some support then this affects others in their network of support.

Diane is very keen to promote people’s ownership and/or involvement in assessment and support pathways without forgetting about the person’s aims and objectives in all aspects of support.

YAC1 - small
carers trust
Trusted Charity Mark - Level 1 - RGB
Disability confident
NYCC - 2
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Thurston Road, 



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