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.


Mark Harrington

Interim Chief Executive Officer


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.

Jennifer rotated

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.

Laura Snowdon

Laura Snowdon

Groups and Activities Support Worker

Diane F

Diane Ferguson

Adult Carer Support Worker

Adult Carers

Diane joined us in 2017 and her role is to support adult carers and has some specific knowledge and experience supporting carers of people who have a dementia.

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.

carers trust
Trusted Charity Mark - Level 1 - RGB
Disability confident
NYCC - 2

2 Omega Business Village, Thurston Road, Northallerton, DL6 2NJ

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