Meet the Team

I joined the company in April 2015 after a long career as a Strategic Commissioner in the NHS and latterly at Durham County Council.

I was born in County Durham and I am a passionate advocate for the North East.  I graduated from Durham University with a BA (Hons) and further studied for a Post Graduate in Management in Health and Social care at Teesside University.

The main focus of my work is to try and make a difference in the lives of people who face difficulties.  I am passionate about supporting people with difficulties such as disabilities, unemployment, poverty, substance misuse, poor education, low level mental health issues or basically for those people who have not had the same opportunities in life as others.

First Point Training offers me the opportunity to improve life chances for people.

I was the founding member of First Point Training in September 2013.

I have previously worked in recovery and treatment services for drugs and alcohol misuse.

I was Co Durham’s first ever Recovery Champion.  It was at this point I realised there was a need for a company to look at recovery in a much broader sense and to look at both individual recovery and recovery of communities.  Taking such a holistic approach offers people to gain employment as well as building on their own personal capital.

The main focus of my work is to try and make a difference in the lives of people who face difficulties.

I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Children and Young Persons.

Education and training is something that I have always been interested in, it enables people to realise their own potential and unlocks many positive opportunities.  I joined the company in April 2015 after working as an Education and Outreach Officer at Auckland Castle Trust.

Being part of this team enables me to co-ordinate projects across the county that will focus on raising people’s self-esteem and confidence.  I hope to provide bespoke person centred projects that will have a positive impact on people’s lives which will enable them to grow as individuals.

I am passionate about supporting people with difficulties such as disabilities, unemployment, poverty, poor education, low level mental health issues and those who have not had the same opportunities in life as others.

I have worked in an office environment for over 35 years. In that time I have covered several different roles including HR and accounting.

During that period I took a career break to try Fostering as I felt I wanted to do something that had more meaning to me.  I was able to look at the reasons a child was taken into care from a parent’s side as well as a professional perspective and I became more aware of how hard it is for people with a background of poverty, poor education etc. to get out of that cycle.

I was already aware of First Point Training and the work they were doing so began working a few hours a week as a volunteer.  I saw what a positive impact the work was having on the community and the groups they were holding and was really impressed with the team and the work they all do.

I am now delighted to be part of that team.

I graduated from Lancaster University with a BA (Hons) in Criminology.

I have always been interested in the events industry and shortly after university I decided to pursue a career in hospitality.  I am fortunate to have worked for 9 years in prestigious hotels and stately homes across the North East.

A desire for a new challenge led me to join the team as Contract Compliance Manager in January 2018, overseeing the contract paperwork and marketing for the company, as well as managing the First Point Training office in Durham. I am thoroughly enjoying working in a new industry and have been fortunate to witness first-hand the fantastic work taking place at First Point Training.

Since joining the team I have achieved a Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training and have worked as a tutor delivering our Positive 4 People and On The Road programmes to adults and young people in the community, which has been a real privilege.

I am very proud to be part of the team and offer support and guidance to help make a difference to individuals across County Durham.

I graduated from the University of Chester with a (BA Hons) in English literature.

I then worked as Specialist Education Mentor at Durham University, supporting students with mental health issues and disabilities to achieve their own personal and academic goals.  From here I’ve worked in a number of education settings, such as HMP Durham, working with learners from a variety of different backgrounds with low self esteem and mental health difficulties, and an independent specialist school for those with SEMH, ASD and SEN.

I’ve always been interested in supporting those that are in need, to overcome whatever barrier they have to learning and life.  I have seen first hand the work of First Point Training and I am delighted to be a part of a team that really do make a difference.

I have worked with First Point training since September 2019 having left the Prison Service to join the company.

I have worked with every type of prisoner, from natural life sentenced prisoners to those doing short sentences and everything in between.

The reason I decided to join the first point team was I felt the experience I had gained in the prison service ,and the core values that motivate me, would fit perfectly with the ethos of First Point.  The support and assistance First Point offer those with complex needs has made this appointment the most fulfilling.

I graduated from Teesside University with LLB (Hons) in Law.  Post-graduation I completed a teaching placement in Further Education.  It was then that I realised I wanted to go into some form of education/training.

I have spent the past 6 years studying the Legal System and the Prisons, and the issues that come with it.  During my studies, and learning about these problems, I always felt like I wanted to make a difference to the people that are actually facing these issues.

I was finally given that opportunity when offered a job at First Point Training in 2019.  I find it so rewarding being able to see the work that we do making a real difference to peoples’ lives.

I have worked for 22 years in offender learning and development, teaching males, females, young offenders, and Category A prisoners within prison estates.  I have also delivered training regionally in Quality Assurance training and managing the Lead on Quality Assurance within the North East and National.

I took early retirement in 2019 at 58.  After months of boredom I came out of retirement to continue what I like to do most which is to work with those who are disadvantaged and who have challenging behaviours or complex needs.

I have been involved with First Point Training since 2013 when Gary founded the company, by offering guidance on education development and quality practices and processes.

I eventually joined the company in October 2019.  My primary role is to ensure that the company is committed to the development and implementation of our Quality Control Processes and practices, and to provide quality work, services and products that meet or exceed the expectations and requirements of our clients.

I am proud to be part of the team and to offer my support and guidance to make a difference.

Awards & Achievements

2017 – Durham County Council – Adults Learning & Skills Service ‘Festival of Learning’ Awards

Festival of Learning Award – Gary Crooks WINNER

Unsung Hero – Gary Crooks WINNER

2018 – Durham County Council – Adults Learning & Skills Service ‘Festival of Learning’ Awards

Volunteer of the Year Award – Yimale Skipp WINNER

Inspirational Tutor of the Year Award – Amanda Rose WINNER

Learning Project of the Year Award – Positive 4 People HIGHLY COMMENDED

Inspirational Learner of the Year Award – Anne Carr HIGHLY COMMENDED

2019 – Durham County Council – Adults Learning & Skills Service ‘Festival of Learning’ Awards

Volunteer of the Year Award – Suzette Ross WINNER

Inspirational Learner of the Year Award – Ellen Cox HIGHLY COMMENDED

Outstanding Apprentice of the Year Award – Imogen Stanley WINNER