Our Board of Trustees
CAUSE strives to maintain a peer-led focus at both an operational and strategic level. Read more about our Board members below.
May McCann – Chair
I have been associated with CAUSE for many years now, both as a board member and as a member of staff, when for a limited period of time I worked part time as CAUSE carer advocate in the, then, Sperrin and Lakeland Trust, now the southern part of the Western Trust. There I worked closely with the Respite Co-ordinator, and hold dear memories of the members of the Omagh and Enniskillen carer groups run by the Respite Unit. I also had the pleasure and privilege of working with the CAUSE carer support groups in Dungannon and in Armagh and Portadown. My experience in these different capacities makes me keenly aware of the exceptional quality of the entire CAUSE team, staff and management. I myself am a member of the North and West Belfast Group and am greatly appreciative of the support provided by Angela Meyler, Carer Advocate, and the other members of the Group.For most of my career I have lectured in Social Anthropology at Queens University Belfast, with particular interest in Diversity, Minority Ethnic Groups, Women’s Studies and Irish Studies.
On early retirement I moved to the community and voluntary sector, working in the areas of outreach, policy and equality in the Women’s Sector where previously I had volunteered over many years. As is often the case with carers, my life experience led me increasingly into advocacy, personal advocacy for, or with, loved ones experiencing emotional distress, collective advocacy for transformation in mental health services and then paid work as an independent advocate for CAUSE.
In 2009 I was appointed by the Minister for HSSPSNI as a non-executive director of the newly established Patient and Client Council an independent, arms-length public body tasked with ensuring that the voice of all people on health and social care is sought, listened to and acted upon. I have been recently reappointed for a further period of office in this role. I also chair the Bamford Monitoring Group whose role it is to seek and make known to the Minister, department, trusts and other relevant bodies, the views and experiences of people - service users, carers, the public and communities - concerning the changes being made to services resulting from the Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability. I am honoured to be the new Chair of CAUSE - it feels like coming home! And I aspire to live up to the inspirational commitment and bravery of my predecessor, Maureen McParland.
Paul Liddy, Treasurer and Trustee
I am a Chartered Public Finance Accountant, and have been a civil servant for the past 18 years. I am currently employed as a Deputy Principal in the European Support Unit of the Department for Enterprise Trade & Investment. My various roles throughout my civil service career have covered finance, accounts, audit and corporate governance. I joined the Cause Board to meet a need at the time for Board members with financial skills. The experience to date has been personally fulfilling and I feel that Cause provides a very necessary and worthwhile role to the NI community in the services it provides to carers. My aim as Treasurer is to work closely with the Chief Executive, Staff and Board to ensure that Cause can continue this vital role and meet the financial challenges which all such voluntary organisations face. In my spare time, I enjoy golf, reading a good thriller and walking with Duster our family dog.
Gillian Blair - incoming Treasurer and Trustee
I am a Chartered Certified Accountant working in the Civil Service as a Deputy Principal Accountant where my current role includes managing the Financial Accounting, Procurement and Financial Systems functions and producing the Departments Annual Resource Accounts. Before this I worked for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) where my role included budget and financial management as well as financial accounting. Prior to NIAS I worked for various private sector organisations including a pharmaceutical distributor, a quarry owner and an accountancy practice!
When I moved into the public sector a major aspect incorporated into all my roles is maintaining sound Corporate Governance. This is evidenced through the way the department is directed, controlled and led from the strategic goals to detailed operational plans, not to mention the monitoring and risk management processes that go along side! I believe this experience has a direct read across to the Charity sector as the management of Charity funding whether through grants, funding or donations must be open and transparent.
The reason I applied for the Treasurer position in CAUSE is because I believe the services offered by CAUSE are invaluable for the carers of a loved one with serious mental illness. While I have no direct experience in caring for a loved one with a serious mental illness a close family member was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I attended a carer training programme to help me understand the illness. I found this programme extremely beneficial and I was very grateful for the insight it provided not to mention the support from other carers who attended and who are in the same situation. I am sure people receiving training, helpline support or advocacy services from CAUSE appreciate the care and support they receive.
I consider it a privilege to offer my accountancy experience and skills to CAUSE and look forward to working closely with the Chief Executive, Staff and Board to ensure that these services continue!
Paul Loughran – Trustee and Finance Committee Member
I am a Queen’s University graduate currently working in the role of Community Officer for the Queens Student Union. I have a passion for the community and voluntary sector, with a specific interest in homelessness and mental health. I am current Chairperson of Regenerate NI, an organisation I founded which aims to regenerate the local community and provide part-time work to homeless individuals. I also recently co-founded a homelessness charity called 100 Help The Homeless. I am an elected member of the Queen’s University Students’ Union and am on the committee of a number of societies within the University.I am delighted to join the CAUSE team and help with the great work that the organisation already does. I hope to bring knowledge in areas such as ICT, social media, and fundraising to help raise the profile of CAUSE.
Jackie Pollock – Trustee
My involvement with CAUSE begins with my sister who has a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder: I joined the board to help in some way to support carers as I’ve been there myself. I work as a Technical Consultant for Kainos Software and in my spare time I volunteer at a youth club for young people with learning disabilities. I also represent the club within the Mencap family. To chill out I’m normally found in the middle of a good book with a cup of tea at one side and my black cat on my lap.
Renee Quinn – Trustee
I have a varied professional background with experience in both the private and public sectors. I currently work as a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner within Local Government, specialising in public health and housing matters.I see my role on the board as providing support to the Chief Executive and her team and to help her continue to achieve outstanding outcomes through well thought out goals and effective governance. I hope my experience can help CAUSE link with local communities by providing networking opportunities.I am a strong advocate of community voice and appreciate the value that CAUSE contributes to our society. I am proud to be associated with CAUSE and hope that my experience will help to make a meaningful and positive contribution to assist CAUSE in achieving their objectives. Along with my work, I have a busy family life but in my spare time can be found frequenting coffee shops.
Nigel Spiers – Trustee
My full time career in statutory social work started in 1972 as a trainee social worker and ended in 2008 as a middle manager. I worked mostly in the area of the now Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT), with a period in the now Southern Health and Social Care Trust. The latter part of my full time working life including as a Principal Officer was mostly with Mental Health Services. From 2008 to 2014 I have been a voluntary executive committee member of the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) and a voluntary committee member of the Mental Health and Learning Disability Alliance representing NIASW.
My interest in joining the Board of CAUSE is therefore a continuation of my commitment to promote partnership and respect between user, carers, provider organisations and professions. I am very aware that in spite of relevant legislation, specialist posts, commitment to assessing carers’ needs and collaboration and much training and awareness raising there are still many dedicated carers of loved ones with serious mental ill health feeling uninformed and unsupported. Conversely many providing and professional staff also have significant personal carer roles. I hope that my own experience can assist CAUSE in working with providers, professionals and representatives of users to make care and service delivery more genuinely collaborative.