Meet John Holmstrom our CE
Recently I interviewed our Chief Executive John. I think it’s important that our supporters (and perhaps the staff) have a little more insight into a day in the life of our CE at WCHP.
(John pictured right, with Neil, left)
What is the role of a Chief Executive?
John is the most senior staff member in the charity and is appointed and responsible to the Board of Trustees. It is his responsibility that the charity delivers its strategy, but also to ensure we are resourced in terms of money and staff. John makes sure we are well run and comply with health and safety, charity and company rules. Overall John has to ensure that good practice is followed through good management.
What is a typical day for the CE?
There is no such thing as a typical day for a CE, as every day brings new and exciting things. However, 70 – 80% of John’s time is spent in meeting; including meetings with management, stake holders, local authorities, churches, other services like health, housing and other charities.
John’s day will also include emails, networking events and sometimes attending fundraising events or visiting WCHP’s projects.
Face to face meetings, where John is able to argue a case for our clients is where his role is truly valued in our organisation, as his passion for overcoming poverty, inequality and homelessness is a life’s work.
What lead you to working at WCHP?
John originally had a vocation to the priesthood and had studied theology. Although then, his path seemed clear, the church encouraged him to gain more life experience, before giving his life to God.
John moved to Brighton and worked as a Care Assistant. Through this work John became acquainted with the Brighton Housing Trust. John began working as a Trainee Housing Advice Worker at Brighton Housing Trust, until then John was unaware of the issue of homelessness in Brighton and was shocked by how severe it was.
At this point John’s vocation shifted, as he was deeply disturbed by the poor quality of life many members of the community struggled with. He felt he would be unable to enrich people’s spiritual lives when there were people who didn’t have the basics. That feeling has never gone away.
How is Homelessness a community issue?
John explained how he is very proud that we have diversified our charity from a soup run, to an emergency hostel, specialised hostel, a day centre, move on project and independent housing. We have a diverse organisation which means our clients have many options for recovery and rehabilitation. The point John encourages everyone to embrace, is that homelessness is larger than one organisation and we alone cannot solve the lack of housing which is why it’s important to partner external organisations that do have these powers.
John’s understanding of homelessness is outward thinking, he sees the larger picture and explains that everything connects. The housing situation we have now is a consequence of the economic system we have. Housing supply is restricted and rents are high. The housing market is dysfunctional and does not meet the needs of everyone, the ultimate symptom of that is people sleeping rough.
If you didn’t work in homelessness, what would your dream job be?
The honest answer was that John is in his dream job, and he explained to me that the last three years have been the happiest for many years. John was worried this would sound a bit glib, but the rest of us think it's very touching.
Overcoming homelessness is John’s life’s passion and that shows in his dedication which is admirable and truly humbling, we are lucky to have him. So thank you John!
Top John Facts
- Has a dog called Minnie and two tortoises called Fatty and Skinny
- He’s been a member of the same book club for 25 years and is currently reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- He has a 4th Dan Black Belt in Aikido