Our advisory group

The CHIC project has also invited a number of selected specialists and experts in relevant fields to advise the planning and progressing the project:


Maria Brenton, UK Cohousing Network 

Maria Brenton is the UK Cohousing Network’s Senior Cohousing Ambassador, and a trustee of the UK Cohousing Trust. For many years she has worked with the OWCH (Older Women’s Cohousing) Group, who at the end of 2016, moved in to ‘New Ground’ Cohousing in North London, the UK’s first and only Senior Cohousing Community. Maria has researched and written about cohousing in various countries, visiting communities in Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Italy and the USA. She is an enthusiastic advocate of this way of living both for older people and for societies confronting the challenge of ageing.


Mara Ferreri, Northumbria University 

I am an urban and cultural geographer working on issues of precarity, commons, housing and urban temporariness. After a PhD in Geography at Queen Mary University of London, I have held research and teaching positions at the LSE and Durham. Prior to joining Northumbria as VC Research Fellow in Human Geography, I held a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Catalonia, with the project Commoning Housing. My research has been published in international journals such as City, Transactions of the IBG, cultural geographies, Urban Studies and Geoforum. I am a founding editor of the open-access international Radical Housing Journal.


Ian Hanton, Central Bedfordshire Council 

I have worked as a local government commissioner for around 15 years notably leading the Supporting People partnership in Northamptonshire, collectively developing  services and initiatives strongly informed by the expertise of lived experience. 

I’ve spent an equivalent amount of time working in third sector organisations focused on housing, homelessness, mental health, drugs and alcohol in a career driven by a commitment to equalities and social justice.

I’ve been working at Central Bedfordshire Council of late focused on developing a much-improved range of accommodation options for older people as both replacements for the tired designs of yesteryear and innovations in residential care, housing with care & support. I’ve developed  community micro-enterprise organisations; initiating the culture shift to help these local, personalised initiatives prosper with the support of our partner, Community Catalysts. Currently, we have nearly 70 community micro providers offering  alternatives to traditional social care services, with scope for making choice and control real for local people.

I’m seconded to Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) for two days a week and amongst other functions I’m promoting innovations in community-centred support and invite recommendations and applications to join the Innovations Directory; helping shift good practice from the margins to the mainstream.



Liz Lloyd, University of Bristol, Professor, Senior Research Fellow 

Prior to her retirement in August 2019, Liz was Professor of Social Gerontology in the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. She now holds an honorary post as a Senior Research Fellow.  Liz is also a Senior Research Fellow at the School for Social Care Research, which has funded several of the projects she has worked on. Her most recent research has been in the sphere of social care and unpaid care, including housing with care and long-term residential care. She is experienced in qualitative longitudinal research and in international comparative research. Liz is an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Care and Caring.


Abdul Ravat, National Ageing Well in BAME communities network and Abbeyfield Society 

Abdul has over 30 years’ experience of procuring affordable housing and sustaining places. His work at the Abbeyfield Society oversees development and asset management, managing the supply of quality housing and capturing good design to meet the housing, care and support needs of older people and addressing loneliness through independent living, residential, dementia and home care solutions. He has previously worked with the Housing Corporation / Homes & Communities Agency and has extensive experience of local government, charity and third sector environments.  

He also has considerable Non-Exec Director Experience – Vice Chair of Manningham HA and board member of Unity Enterprise, and now with Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust and member of the Audit & Risk Committee.  He is a member of National Housing Federation’s Delivering Great Homes Group shaping policy solutions with government and sector.

He co-authored a study looking at ‘Mortgage Rescue – Meeting the Requirements of Special Needs Groups’.  Member of Independent Schools Appeals Panel and Ambassador with National Training Awards.  Abdul co-founded the Ageing Well Network established to ensure older people from all backgrounds enjoy the benefits of living longer and living better.  Also now a member of Muslim Council of Britain’s Research & Documentation Committee.

Working to expand ‘Clock Cricket’ designed for indoor setting and tailored to enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of older people and those with limited mobility, hearing and eyesight. In April 2019 successfully piloted this new format at Abbeyfield’s Fern House Scheme, Bingley with ECB and Yorkshire Cricket Foundation. Working strategically to scale this across all of TAS’s 500 homes in the UK and in other territories. Also a keen club cricketer, delivered the  ‘Light of Faith Tours’ with Vatican, Church of England and others, using cricket to bring people of different faiths, background and communities together.


Jon Stevens, Independent advisor

I trained as an architect in the early 1970s and worked in community-based housing and urban renewal for most of my career. Between 1993 and 2009, I was Director of Birmingham Cooperative Housing Services, developing and supporting a wide range of cooperative and mutual housing models and organisations. And for the following ten years I worked as a community housing consultant, with a specific interest in forms of collaborative housing for older people. In this period, I published several well-received papers for the Housing Learning and Improvement Network and for the Housing and Communities Research Group at the University of Birmingham. Two of these papers have proved to be particularly relevant to the SSRC project.

‘Growing Older Together: The Case for Housing Shaped and Controlled by Older People’ (2013) and ‘Growing Older Together: An Overview of Collaborative Forms of Housing for Older People’ (2016) contained 15 case examples of projects that sought to offer older people:

  • participation in active and self-sufficient communities.
  • mutual care and support.
  • responsive and cost-effective management arrangements.
  • enhanced well-being and reduced dependency.

The papers provided evidence on how these benefits could be achieved in a variety of settings and using different delivery models and they argued for further research and greatly increased development activity.

Vanessa Prtichard-Wilkes, Head of Strategic Influence at Housing 21

Vanessa has over 20 years’ experience in a range of public, private and public sector organisations and has gained considerable experience in research, evaluation, public policy and stakeholder engagement.   She joined Housing 21 in 2014, initially as External Affairs Manager. In 2015, she took on the role of Head of Strategic Influence, and has responsibility for research, the organisations strategic work around dementia and external stakeholder engagement. In 2017, Vanessa co-authored the Dementia-friendly housing guide with the Alzheimer’s Society.

Paula Fairweather – TLAP (Think Local, Act Personal)

Paula is also a member of the National Co-production Advisory Group, and advises on co-production.

Owen Jarvis, CEO of UK Cohousing Network

Owen Jarvis has over 20 years-experience of leading community and social enterprises mostly tackling housing issues. He is a Clore Social Leadership Fellow and alumni of the Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship. He is an advocate of using design thinking for social change and has also published on how third sector organisations can scale their impact through collaborations. Owen is delighted to be working for UKCN, having spent many happy years of his life living in community-led housing and ecovillages.