The Hub Team
Nathan Roberts – Group Chief Executive
Nathan did a Business Studies degree at the University of Northumbria and expected to work in IT. However, he was inspired instead by his placement at the Department of Social Services in the finance department, and later at Raleigh International where he found himself supervising a building project in Ghana with a group of disenfranchised young people (a mixture from both the UK and Ghana). “I really understood how taking these young people away from their daily lives, and getting them involved in such a practical task really supported them to change in so many ways,” he says.
Nathan went on to work for Raleigh International where he oversaw million pound projects and ran training teams. “I also became interested in why female team leaders got much better results with young people than male ones. What was it about the male psychology that got in the way? I realised that I had a lot to learn in the areas of compassion and empathy.”
In 2005, Nathan was part of a group of men who had experienced profound transformation through rites of passage and men’s work. They saw the potential to support change in troubled young men and ex prisoners, and they started abandofbrothers in Brighton.
In 2011, Nathan became Chief Executive, in 2014, he was runner up in the Sunday Times Change-maker Award, and in 2015, abob received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Nathan has a partner, Lottie and is the father to three sons, Patrick, Theo and Ben.
“My vision for abob is that there will be a community of men offering rites of passage training to young men in every region of the UK. And later internationally.”
Conroy Harris – Regional CEO (London & the North)
I was born in St Johns, Antigua and moved to England in the early sixties and grew up in Nottingham. Although I have lived in Oxford for over 30 years I remain a keen Nottingham Forest fan. I left home at 16 to join the R.A.F and served for 6 years. After I was discharged from the R.A.F, I experienced many difficult years, some of them being homeless.
Eventually I trained & worked in various Mental Health settings. During this time I also attended Ruskin College Oxford, where I studied sociology. I then went on to train as a group worker and, for several years, facilitated Cognitive Behavioural Therapy groups. During this time, I noticed that most of the participants were women and many of the specialist services were mainly for women. It was around this time that I started an all-male group specifically aimed at black men in the mental health system.
My experience as a single father proved to be valuable when I took up a post as a Fathers Worker, mainly working with men from socially deprived backgrounds.
In the early 2000’s I trained to be a Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy teacher. Along with counselling training, this gave me a real belief in the potential for emotional and psychological transformation.
I was soon invited to be a member of a small local men’s group and together we explored issues of masculinity in a changing world. In 2016, a friend brought my attention to an advert for abandofbrothers on Facebook. They were looking for men in the Oxford area, with the idea of setting up a new ABoB community. As soon as I looked at the picture of the body of men cheering & celebrating, I could see himself in that picture and knew it was for me!
With abandofbrothers the opportunity to mentor a young man, build community and be in service to that community, seemed to provide the next logical step in my personal and professional development.
Since then, I have come to see that there are many young men in the criminal justice system who, given the right opportunity to have someone alongside them that believes in the power of change and hope, can go on to make positive contributions to themselves and their communities.
James Wong – Regional CEO (South)
James Wong currently serves as Regional Chief Executive (South) at A Band of Brothers.
Building on successful careers in Hospitality Management, Landscape Gardening and as a Therapeutic Counsellor; James joined aBoB in 2014 as a volunteer mentor and in 2016 went on to lead the local Eastbourne Project.
In Eastbourne, James drew together and mentored a self-motivated team of volunteers and nurtured collaborative working relationships within the community whilst attracting some key local funding that helped support over 50 young Eastbourne men so far.
On a regional and national level, James plays a key part in the development, training and delivery of many of the programmes delivered by aBoB. More recently the “Being Your Own Man” programme run from within Probation across Sussex; a personal development programme on mature masculinity.
James is an ex offender.
“As a young impressionable boy in my mid-teens and influenced by some older lads, I found myself involved in a burglary without really fully realising I was committing a crime – it just seemed like an adventure I wanted to be part of. Luckily for me the look of shame on my father’s face in court was enough to steer me away from any further criminal involvement. I also went to work abroad aged 19 which turned out to be a much healthier way for me to slate my thirst for adventure.”
James believes in laying down healthy foundations for our future generations. After many years of feeling frustration and desperation in his efforts he has found new hope and personal potency by coming together in community to share the joyful burden of working with some of the most troubled young men in society.
Sussex born, James lives with his partner Zoe and teenage children. He enjoys walking the South Downs with friends and family and if the wind is right, he’ll be attempting to reach new heights paragliding (still adventurous!), telling the tale to anyone who’ll listen.
Hugh Newton – Head of Education and Training
I am deeply committed to encouraging all of us, including myself, to be our true eternal selves.
What does this mean to me?
This means that I seek to encourage us to know ourselves. As a child I learned how to cope in the world. I developed strategies to protect myself from hurt and pain, and strategies to be successful. These strategies became my unconscious program, a program which then ran me as an adult. If I know myself, then I know my childhood programming and conditioning. Knowing myself I can then behave out of informed adult choice rather than out of this conditioning.
I came to self-development work because I needed to heal my childhood trauma. I grew up in the Rhodesian War, which left me with numerous symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. I managed to cope with the symptoms by suppressing, ignoring and overriding them. In 1997 I came across rites of passage work, completing my own process. During this weekend I turned to face my traumatic childhood and deal with it, rather than run away from it as I had been doing. Since then I have continued my deep inner healing work, and, as I have come to know, heal and integrate myself I have sought to pass this gift onto others.
For much of my working career I have been promoting all things African. I import African musical instruments and crafts into the UK, and for many years ran a stall at festivals promoting African music. I built a Eco-Tourist Guest House (Meet Me There ) on the coast of Ghana with the intention of introducing people to traditional rural African life and community. I have now donated this beautiful guest house to a wonderful NGO called Dream Big Ghana which strives to improve life and reduce poverty in rural Africa.
Following my deep love for the Earth and its creatures I also run a program which seeks to protect turtles and other wildlife in this part of Africa (Ghana Turtles).
In April 2015 I started working with A Band of Brothers as Head of Education and Training. I am deeply passionate about this work which is making a considerable contribution to the health of our society.
Dan Hartley – Head of Operations
Dan joined abandofbrothers in 2008 and was influential in initiating the first ‘Quest for Community’ for young men. With over 10 years experience of frontline youth work, primarily within the Youth Justice and Leaving Care sectors in London and Sussex, Dan continues to play a key role in the growth and development of the Charity.
“For me, abandofbrothers felt like the missing piece in a jigsaw. It sounds obvious now but, prior to my involvement, I’d never realised how fortunate I was to have mentors in my life. I’d also never acknowledged how vital it is for young men to have older men around them when making the transition to adulthood. Men who can be real and fully present, who can offer support and challenge, and be models of healthy masculinity.”
Time and again, Dan’s witnessed how destructive and anti-social behaviour is an inevitable consequence of unresolved hurts and an often tough and heart-breaking back-story. He’s clear that, in order to break the cycle of offending and violence, we have to model something different. Dan believes it’s imperative now that we attend to the inter-generational wounds, the mistrust and the sense of disconnection and powerlessness that’s rife within large sections of our society.
“For me, it’s not rocket science. When a young man feels valued, has his basic needs met, feels part of a community and has a sense of purpose, the tendency towards unhealthy life choices (including involvement in crime or anti-social behaviour) naturally subsides. Instead, what we see emerge is a healthy sense of self-worth, positive aspiration and a desire to make a meaningful contribution in the world”.
As someone who is passionate about creating a safer, more inclusive society, Dan sees abandofbrothers as the perfect grass-roots vehicle for sustainable change.
Dan currently lives in Sussex with his wife and two children and feels blessed to have their support, patience and love on this remarkable journey.
Andy Clark – Systems & Operations Manager
I joined a band of brothers in March 2014 as a mentor in Eastbourne. In July 2019 I joined the Hub Team as the Systems and Operations Manager for a band of brothers nationally. I remain an active volunteer member within the Eastbourne group.
I see real examples of the work we do making a difference to young men’s lives and of those people around them. While growing up in Essex I was lucky to have a few positive male role models, as well as some that were not such a good influence! It was a fine line for me between which path to choose.
I’m married and we have a teenage son. I have come to realise it’s not my job to tell him how to live his life. It is my job to be a role model, and it is the collective responsibility of the community to be open to his potential and for him to make his choices of how he shows up in the world, as it is for all of us.
A band of brothers does this for young men who perhaps didn’t have those role models or communities around them when they needed them the most, so here we are, not to judge or teach, but to hold space, to model what it is to be a man, and to allow them to make their own choices, ones that might ‘re-story’ their lives.
Like all charities, we have a board of Trustees who oversee the organisation
Alex Bailey (Chair)
Following a career as a commercial lawyer in the City of London, in consultancy and then ‘Big Charity’, Alex is currently the Chief Executive of two local authorities. He has been a long term keen community activist with involvement in advice agencies, learning disability charities and a range of youth and sports activities over a number of years. Currently he is Vice President of a large Credit Union and has chaired abandofbrothers for over 3 years.
Alex has two teenage sons (currently transitioning to full adulthood) and recognises the vital role that other mature men can have in assisting in transition. He believes it is important for all young men to be able to choose to have such guidance and support and believes that abandofbrothers has drawn from ancient tradition, added some very contemporary approaches, and created something potentially of great value to all young men. He is convinced of the worth of taking this approach to scale.
Alex lives on a farm on the South Downs, growing vegetables and following the fortunes of his beloved Tottenham Hotspur.
As a young man I struggled within the school system, leaving at 16, but was very determined, had a supportive family, and was lucky enough to then spend the next 30 years forging a successful career in the commercial world.
I have two sons who are now adult men. They have a wonderful mother, and I know how important she has been in helping them develop into the great men they are today, and I have also been very struck how important is has been for them and their growth to have healthy male role models around them, particularly throughout their teenage years. It is an eternal blessing for me that whilst I have been there as their father, they have had a number of emotionally intelligent older men in their community, who have mentored many healthy elements of what it is to be a man.
It is so clear to me that in our society this has become increasingly rare, and I have no doubt if young men had older healthy male role models thought their formative lives, prisons would be less occupied, suicides would reduce, family violence would decline, and all of society would benefit.
I have witnessed in abandofbrothers extraordinary men who give their time to fill this need, and in turn receive the great rewards themselves of the mentoring process.
Rowena started her career in journalism and worked at the think-tank Demos prior to the 1997 general election. She held senior management roles at national news agency Children’s Express (now Headliners) and the Kaleidoscope Project, widely regarded for its holistic approach to supporting long term drug users.
Between 2000 and 2017 she led a number of organisations that played formative roles in the establishment of the social enterprise and innovation fields: the School for Social Entrepreneurs, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and NESTA’s Lab. She joined the Just Finance Foundation at its incorporation in March 2017, from the Young Foundation where she oversaw the health and education portfolios.
Rowena has advised government on employment, social enterprise and health policy; her report, From War to Work (Foreign Policy Centre, 2002) was dubbed ‘the bible of drug policy’. She has held a range of non-executive roles with organisations ranging from FairTrade fashion company People Tree (Chair) and Park View Secondary School (Vice Chair), to Britdoc, SEUK and VSO. She sits on the government’s Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, the Children and Young People’s Steering Group for the Financial Capability Strategy for the UK, and the Impartiality Committee of the Fair Banking Foundation, and is a trustee of A Band of Brothers.
Following an international career in industry which included being the chief executive of a plc, Rowen is now a management consultant helping boards and executive teams in public, private and not-for-profit organisations with their leadership and talent agendas. He is passionate about the importance of authentic leadership and the impact unconscious leadership can have on organisations and in the communities in which they operate.
Rowen has three children, a daughter (20) and two teenage sons (15 and 17), and has been involved with abandofbrothers since 2009, initially as a mentor and then from 2013 as a trustee. He believes that if you cannot tell your story, your story tells you, and that everyone, young men and older men alike, can create a world of community and connection by better understanding who they are and what is behind the choices that they make. He has seen that the programmes we run offer men an opportunity to become more authentic and develop deeper trust-based relationships with their families and communities. By connecting young men with older men we can create a more positive society through inter-generational leadership, reducing crime, increasing social mobility and making sustainable communities.
Stephen Moss has 27 years consulting experience working across a range of sectors on strategic change, leadership and performance improvement projects. As an organisation development specialist he brings a focus on business outcomes, a strong background in applied psychology and experience of working on both strategy and nitty-gritty operations. Combining development and team building with focus on complex, real work issues, has been a common theme in his work. Forms of collaborative inquiry and strengths based approaches strongly inform his practice.
He started his career working in social work (He qualified with an MA in Applied Social Studies – Social Work). During that period of 12 years he was: a practitioner/manager working with young people in care; manager of Centrepoint’s original medium stay hostel for vulnerable young single homeless people; officer in charge of a LB Ealing therapeutic unit for adolescents in care and a leaving care unit; manager of a pioneering community mental health resettlement service in LB Lambeth. He has worked extensively as a consultant with ‘frontline services’ enabling service improvement and collaborative working.
After studying mathematics, Rob’s working life began as a professional musician, followed by an entrepreneurial period in furniture manufacture and retail.
After meeting his now wife, Diana, he moved to London and his career moved into national charity, ultimately as Head of Fundraising Strategy at NSPCC.
Rob has also worked extensively with the Institute of Fundraising to improve understanding of fundraising throughout the charity sector.
Following a year spent travelling the world, Diana and Rob have returned to Brighton and Rob now consults with charities and other ‘not-for-profit’ bodies to support their funding strategy.
“Abandofbrothers are doing something very powerful and very important; the positive effect on the young men’s lives and the lives of their families really inspires me to help make this remarkable organisation successful.”
Outside of work, Rob is a fitness enthusiast and continues to play piano and guitar as a hobby.