A key appointment has put fundraising at the top of the agenda for a Northumberland-based mental health charity.

Jill Watkin has been appointed as the new philanthropy manager at Blyth Star Enterprises.

With over 30 years’ experience working in the not-for-profit sector, Jill’s impressive career has seen her work for some of the UK’s top charities, including Oxfam and Changing Lives.

In her newly created role at Blyth Star Enterprises, Jill will be responsible for driving all of the charity’s fundraising initiatives, generating income to grow its range of services through grant applications and partnerships with local businesses. As a side-line, Jill will also be utilising the skills she has acquired in her spare time as a property developer to help Blyth Star purchase some domestic properties as part of the charity’s long-term vision to expand its supported living services.

Jill Watkin

Jill said:

“I am delighted to have been offered the opportunity to join the team at Blyth Star Enterprises.

“As an organisation, Blyth Star Enterprises has for many years remained largely self-sufficient and has done a fantastic job of growing and maintaining its services organically to meet the changing needs of its client base.

“With a more focused approach to fundraising, we hope that we will be able to expand our services even further to help benefit the lives of more people living with mental illness and learning disabilities across our region.”

Jill first came to hear about Blyth Star Enterprises over 10 years ago when one of her close friends began using the charity’s ‘Lionhearts’ day service in Alnwick.

Having witnessed first-hand the positive impact that the fun activities and social interaction with like-minded individuals had on her friend’s mental health, Jill became involved with the charity as a volunteer before being offered a part-time position as a member of staff.

Jill added:

“The work that Blyth Star does to support people living with severe and enduring mental health problems and learning disabilities is truly amazing.

“Having seen the difference that attending the Lionhearts service at the Costello Centre in Alnwick had on my friend, I was just absolutely blown away and wanted to give something back if I could.

“To be able to join the team permanently as a member of staff is absolutely fantastic and I’m really looking forward to the new challenge.”

Gordon Moore, chief executive at Blyth Star Enterprises, commented:

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jill to the team at Blyth Star Enterprises.

“Despite encountering a number of years of austerity, the charity has continued to grow its services, consistently diversifying in order to meet the needs of clients and commissioning bodies.

“Jill’s wealth of skills and experience make her a valuable asset to the charity and will enable us to take a more strategic approach to fundraise which will help safeguard our community-led services for the future.”

Blyth Star Enterprises supports over 350 people living with mental ill health and or learning disabilities through its innovative sheltered working environments, supported living accommodation and day services.

For more information, visit www.blythstar.org.uk.