Kevin Ford appointed Chair of The Active Wellbeing Society

The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) is a community benefit society and cooperative, which has been working for the last five years to build happy, healthy communities living active and connected lives. We’re grounded in the areas where inequalities are highest and work with the people there to tackle them, while promoting wellbeing. This is done by delivering a variety of free, co-designed activities and services. Since TAWS was formed, we have given out more than 7,000 free bikes in Birmingham and more than 700 in Essex. We’ve also facilitated more than a quarter of a million activities, including runs, bike rides and community café sessions.

We want to help create a kind, inclusive society where resources are shared according to need. Our aim is to improve collective wellbeing, by working together to meet our own wellbeing needs – including those for food, physical activity, and mental health. TAWS is committed to reaching more people and expanding our services, building on the skills, evidence base, relationships and community links we have already developed. Our work is now spreading nationally, most notably with the Essex Pedal Power initiative.

To support this ambition, we are delighted to announce that Kevin Ford has been appointed as the new Chair of The Active Wellbeing Society, alongside three new board members who bring a wealth of diverse experience to their roles.

Kevin has been an existing board member of TAWS for four years and has worked as a successful entrepreneur in both the social and commercial worlds for more than thirty years. He currently balances a mix of public service work; consultancy projects focused on business planning, leadership and change; investment and business activity.

He has been actively involved in the rethinking of delivery models for public services, including the development of leaders to understand how publicly funded enterprises differ from traditional businesses, and how to build a culture of enterprise in non-profit distributing ventures. He has worked as a business planning adviser to range of local authority spin out enterprises, including cultural services, public libraries, probation, housing, adult learning and youth services.

Commenting on his new role as Chair Kevin said:

“I feel very honoured to be invited to take on the role as Chair of The Active Wellbeing Society after serving on the board since 2019. TAWS has grown and developed in a remarkable way since it began life as an independent charitable social enterprise in 2017. Its work enables some of the most disadvantaged people in the country to take part in a wide range of activities – from free bikes, walking and running, community cafes, to share shacks and listening and support services. I am immensely proud of our staff and volunteers who tirelessly work to get alongside people and communities to empower them to take part in activities, which improve their wellbeing. The Active Wellbeing Society continues to grow, and I look forward to playing my part in steering it into a wider more national role whilst retaining its strong roots in Birmingham. I hope that in the coming years we will be able to develop our superb work across the UK so that more people and communities can improve their health and vitality and build a greater sense of power and control over their own lives”.


The Chief Executive of TAWS, Karen Creavin said:

“We are really pleased that Kevin has agreed to be our new Chair. He has played an important role with us on the board in the journey so far, and we are delighted that he will now step forward as our Chair, bringing to bear his skills and experience to support the organisation. The role of Chair is a big one, and our two former Chairs have created big shoes to fill. In Kevin we have someone who is kind, thoughtful, and very committed to our work and our values. We look forward to the next bit of the journey with Kevin and all that he will add to the role.

As we move into a more national arena, we are in a great position with such wisdom and experience with all our board, new members and existing members alike. The Active Wellbeing Society acknowledges that the contribution of these wonderful leaders and volunteers is a critical element of the healthy governance and leadership of the organisation that we enjoy”.


We are also delighted to welcome three new board members – Chris Wright, Stuart Evans and Ken Ellis. They will bring a variety of skills and experience to collaborate with our existing board members, Sam Porter, David Farnworth, Karen Creavin, Joanne Hatton and Joy Warmington to achieve TAWS national ambitions, and maintain the work we are doing on current projects.

Ken Ellis: After leaving York University with a degree in Biochemistry, Ken qualified as an accountant and then spent time in Automotive, Medical product and the building products industries. He retired in January 2021 having spent the previous decade as the Chief Financial officer of a UK subsidiary of a Fortune 500 US building products business. The vast majority of his career was based in Finance, but he also spent time in other roles from Marketing to Manufacturing with experience of projects from business turnaround and acquisition, which has enabled him to take a more practical and understanding view beyond just Finance. Since retirement he still does a small amount of consultancy, but a main new passion is as a volunteer puppy raiser for Guide Dogs.

Stuart Evans: Stuart leads on planning and highway related legal work.  For more than 15 years he was Head of Planning and Regeneration and Interim City Solicitor at Birmingham City Council where he advised the landowning arm of the Council’s Property Services on many large transactions. He also supported and advised the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust.  Transactions Stuart advised on relate to large scale city centre redevelopments, Aston Regional Investment Site, Birmingham City University and HS2. His advice was related to planning applications, drafting of committee reports and associated committee procedure; he also advised on the inter-relationship of development, s106 and highway agreements. Stuart is a recommended lawyer in the Legal 500, 2020, where the firm is ranked in Tier 1 for Local Government.

Chris Wright:  Chris was previously the Chief Executive of Catch22, the social business delivering cradle to career public services across England and Wales. He stepped down in July 2022 following 11 years in the role. He originally trained as a social worker and spent much of his early career working in the criminal justice system at both a local and national level. Over his career, he has become increasingly interested in how to reset public services so that they move away from what they have increasingly become – transactional, bureaucratic and compliance led systems, so that they can become more agile, relational, entrepreneurial, and local. He is now pursuing a portfolio of interests. 

Chris is a Non-Executive Director of Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, he chairs Catalyst Choices, a Community Interest Company delivering a range of adult social care services in the North West, he also chairs Jobs22, a joint venture between the Australian based Angus Knight Group and Catch22, which delivers employability and skills services, and he is a Non-Executive Director of Big Society Capital.  He continues to represent Catch22 on the board of Capacity – the public services lab which operates across the Liverpool City Region rethinking public services as people services and is a founding director of We are Juno, a new model of children’s residential social care. He is also a trustee of The West London Zone. He lives in Nottinghamshire and is a long-term season ticket holder at Nottingham Forest.


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Alice Rosenthal
Author: Alice Rosenthal