Our Trustees

Ed Washer

Ed Washer

Chair of Trustees

Ed worked in local authority social services departments in Humberside County Council and later in Hull City Council for 22 years before retiring in 2003. Since then, he has done a variety of jobs mainly working with health and social care organisations in the statutory and voluntary sectors.

Ed values the unique and important role Matthew’s Hub plays in supporting people with autism. He is also a trustee on the board of HICA, the Humberside Independent Care Association, and keeps in touch with the services that organisation provides.

Roberta Mason

Roberta Mason

Roberta has always been particularly driven by principles of social justice, and feels passionately that everyone, should have the very best opportunities to have their voices heard.  This is why, Roberta became involved with Matthews Hub.

Roberta had a career of over 20 years working as a litigation solicitor representing ordinary people in Court. She ran her own legal practice for over 10 years, gaining a wide range of business skills.  Roberta is also an accredited mediator trained to international standards. She has years of experience of bringing people.

Having supported close family members with neurological disease and dementia, Roberta became an IMCA (Independent Mental Capacity Advocate) and now works in the social care sector for another Charity, supporting vulnerable adults who have cognitive difficulties. She acts as a Statutory Advocate in Care Reviews, Safeguarding, Deprivation of liberty cases, and complex Court of Protection cases.

Sally Stoakes

Sally Stoakes

Sally’s experience with 2 of her children diagnosed as autistic, led her to become active in the promotion of better services for the Autistic community since the 1990’s.

She was Branch officer for the National Autistic Society Hull & East Riding for 3 years in the 90’s. In 2004, with 3 other families, became a founding member of the Maxifun club, an inclusive family social and leisure club. She played a part on various committees and family consultation groups with Social Care and Health services, trying to improve services. She has talked many times at conferences and training days about the day to day, nitty gritty impact that autism has had on her family.

In 2010/11 she worked with the parent led charity, FiND developing a local day service for people with Autism and Learning disabilities post education. Through this experience Sally became supportive of the work of Gill and Kath, that led to the development of Matthew’s Hub as it is today.

Simona Rizzardi

Simona Rizzardi

Simona is the person who had the initial idea of Matthew’s Hub, which was created in memory of her son ‘Matthew'. You can find Matthew’s story in the ‘About us’ section.

She is very proud of Matthew’s Hub and its achievements: she finds the team truly remarkable, in that its members are highly qualified in health and social care and some of them have a diagnosis of autism, which gives them a unique insight into what it is like to live with autism and overcome its challenges. She thinks that, thanks to them, Matthew’s Hub has grown well beyond her expectations in just a few years and is making a big difference to the lives of many vulnerable young people.

Simona has an academic background, having worked first at Bangor and then at Hull University teaching Italian language and literature. She has another son who lives in Italy and makes frequent trips there. She loves playing the organ, volunteering in a refugee welcoming centre, walking and time with friends.

Brett Heasman

Brett Heasman

Dr Brett Heasman is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at York St John University

Brett’s area of specialist research is Autism, and his research has been published in international leading journals. He also lectures on topics related to autism and social interaction.

Brett has collaborated with Matthew’s Hub members to create a public exhibition in London called ‘Open Minds’, which provided a platform for autistic voices to be heard in the public domain and improve public understanding of autism. The exhibition has reached over 10,000 people and has resulted in autism awareness resources that are being used by local councils and charities in the UK, Australia and the US. 

Brett believes passionately in the vital role Matthew’s Hub plays, especially as it is among only a handful of charities in the UK that support autistic adults. He is very proud to be a trustee and proud of the great work of Matthew’s Hub, as it continues to grow and adapt to meet the needs of its members.  

Jackie Fairbairn

Jackie Fairbairn

Jackie was born and raised in London, where she had a career in the Courts Service as a Legal Advisor. She moved to Beverley with her family nearly 30 years ago. Jackie qualified as a teacher and taught in Hull. Now retired, she retains her passion for education. Her interests include reading and a love of theatre.

She is a Magistrate and a Secondary School Trustee. She has held various posts including Chair of Governors’, responsibility for Special Needs (SEND) and Child Protection.

Jackie feels that her Teacher Training had limited focus on Additional Needs Teaching. Although, over the years, training included the Autistic Spectrum, she feels, mainstream schools in general do not cater sufficiently for the specific needs of those children who are non-neural typical. Jackie acknowledges that there are notable exceptions and many teachers who work hard to tailor a programme of learning for their pupils’ needs.

Jackie was delighted to have been asked to become a Trustee of Matthew’s Hub.

Rob Stoakes

Rob Stoakes

Rob is an author and care-worker who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at an early age.

His specific role as trustee within Matthew's Hub is to speak directly to the members of the Hub and pass their opinions onto the trustees and vice versa. At a young age he met Matthew, after whom Matthew's Hub is named, at a kickboxing and ju-jitsu club. You can find his story in the ‘About us’ section of this website. Rob cares greatly about Matthew's Hub, as he feels that the sense of community is vital for young adults with Autism. He continues to go to the same kickboxing club, and his other interests include hiking and writing. His experience with Autism, besides from his diagnosis, comes from his career as a carer for young people with learning disabilities.

Steph Thompson

Steph Thompson

Steph has worked in social and health care for over 30 years. She came to Hull in the early 1980’s because it was one of the few places in the country at the time, that were employing occupational therapists to work in community mental health teams.

Since then, Steph has had the privilege to work with different people in different organisations in different ways. She has worked for NHS organisations and social care organisations who commission and provide services. Steph has worked across the country, always trying to focus on improving quality of life for people. 
Through work, Steph has at different times, been directly connected with people who have a diagnosis of autism. 

Steph came back to live in Hull a few years ago, joining Matthews Hub as a trustee in 2020. She is really pleased to be part of this great organisation where there is such a strong emphasis on everyone’s skills and talents. 

Matthew’s Hub is a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)

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