After leaving the University of Oxford in 1999 with a 2:1 (Hons) in English Literature and Language, I joined the UK civil service. In a variety of roles in the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, I formulated and delivered policies to regenerate the poorest neighbourhoods in the country, ultimately developing and managing the £42m per year Single Community Programme.
While working in government, I was approached to take up a six-month secondment at the London School of Economics between 2002 and 2003, where I supported the independent review into the future of Birmingham’s £800m public housing stock.
In 2005, I won a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to travel to the US to identify lessons from state and federal anti-poverty programmes for the UK’s emergent ‘mixed communities’ policy.
I left the civil service in 2006 to join Shared Intelligence, a medium-sized profit-making consultancy. I consistently won, lead and delivered assignments for a wide range of clients, becoming a member of the Senior Management Team and board attendee.
Typical projects included:
* developing regeneration frameworks for towns and cities including Margate and Wembley;
* writing successful funding bids for Oxfordshire, Thurrock and the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Economic Partnership;
* evaluating programmes for major charity clients including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, and Victim Support.
During my ten years at Si, I co-authored Jigsaw Cities (Policy Press, 2007) with Prof. Anne Power; co-chaired the Urban Forum, a national charity that supported communities in the poorest neighbourhoods to have a voice in policy; and wrote articles for a range of newspapers, magazines and journals on public policy issues.
I also sat on steering and advisory groups for projects led by IPPR North, ResPublica and the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics.