The new boss in charge of Grace House has spoken of her vision for the charity and how she wants it to be a “regional asset”.
Sunderland-born and raised Victoria Brown has taken up the role of chief executive at the respite care facility for children and young people with complex disabilities, after former leader Dr Karen Parry left before Christmas.
Victoria’s previous role was operations manager at Age UK in Sunderland, where she had worked for 17 years.
She attended Monkwearmouth School before studying a health and social care degree at Teesside University.
Her first job was at Sunderland Community Furniture Service which was based at St Peter’s Church, in Thorney Close.
From there, Victoria, 48, went to work with the Alzheimer’s Society in Gateshead.
She then moved to Chester and worked at Age Concern in Runcorn and Widnes.
Her next role was at a business providing home care for vulnerable people in the Salford area.
“I was there for six years, and then came home to the North East and a job with Age Concern in Newcastle,” said Victoria.
“From there I moved home to Sunderland working with the same charity.
She added that she has followed the progress of Grace House with interest, after an initial Echo-backed appeal began in 2002.
“Family and friends have done quote a bit of fundraising for Grace House over the years and I live quite close to the building so I’ve had good awareness of the work we do,” she said.
“It’s a vital service we provide for the city and region – as a parent I know how tricky organizing children’s lives can be, but for parents with children with complex disabilities and complications, life can be very difficult.
“So to have a support mechanism like Grace House for the whole family, is a phenomenal facility on our doorstep.
“It makes a real difference to people’s lives.
Victoria started her new role in mid March and has already met parents and families of some of the young people who use Grace House.
“They’ve told me how important we are in their lives and what a great facility we have here,” she said.
“Sunderland should be proud of Grace House and the money we all raised to make it a reality.
“Part of my role is ensuring the charity is seen as a regional asset, rather than just an asset to the city.”
Grace House works with partner Sunderland Care and Support (SCS) to deliver its specialist services, and Victoria knows the team from her time with Age UK.
David Cook, chairman of Grace House Board of Trustees, said: “We’re thrilled Victoria has joined us.
“She knows Grace House well and within the voluntary sector locally and regionally Victoria is a well established and well respected figure.
“Her appointment comes at an important time in Grace House’s development and the board is looking forward to working with her to provide a five-star service to the young people and their families who use our services.”