Management team


Rebecca Smicle

Chief Executive

I joined Independent Lives in 2004 after starting my career supporting disabled children and adults in community settings. Following this I worked in Hounslow, West London, first supporting the conversion of a sheltered employment institute into a centre offering a better range of life options for local people. I then went on to support people into paid employment through the New Deal for Disabled People.

My current role as Chief Executive gives me the ability to work with disabled people to develop and improve services and to create strategies to increase all citizens’ access to choice, control and to live independent lives.

During my time at Independent Lives I have achieved a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership & Management.

I am a member of South East Network for Disabled People’s Organisations (SENDPO), and Supporting Community-Based Solutions.

woman with a warm smile wearing a white blouse and a necklace

Cherry Simmonds

Director of operations

I joined Independent Lives in September 2022 after beginning my social work career in the south-east - supporting young people in foster care. I qualified as a social worker in 2000, gained post-graduate social care leadership qualifications and an MBA in 2009.

Latterly, I worked within the adult social care sector and supported the growth and development of Driving Miss Daisy in a national operations role – with the aim of supporting people to retain independence and live their lives to the full.

Formerly a Non-Executive Director with Healthwatch, West Sussex, I remain committed to championing inclusivity, equality and best practice for everyone associated with Independent Lives.

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Patrick Maher

Director of finance and ICT

I have been with Independent Lives as Director of Finance & ICT since September 2022. Much of my career has been spent working in finance, ICT, legal and HR matters for charities and not-for-profits across a range of sectors.

I am inspired by the work that we do and the people we support, and the commitment of colleagues and trustees alike to achieve the organisation’s vision and bring about real change.

A friendly woman with blonde hair wearing glasses on her head and a cosy black scarf smiles warmly in this portrait.

Jane Knight

Head of care

I started working at Independent Lives in 2016 joining the care service as a training officer. During this time I was also working for the care service. In 2020 I became head of care. I oversee the care service, home first service and carers respite service.

I love working in my role because it allows me to continuously improve the quality of care we provide to our customers and to increase the profile of the care industry across Sussex.


Yvonne Farenden

Head of Direct Payments and personalisation

I moved to West Sussex from London in 2007 where I previously worked for Barclays Bank and the Metropolitan Police Service and joined Independent Lives in 2008. This was a new challenge for me having never worked in this sector before. I started as Enquiries Officer and honed my skills from the ground up.

I really enjoy my work and the differences it makes to people's lives. Every day brings something new, and I am so glad to be part of an organisation which works towards that.


Dom Goodeve

Head of marketing, communications and engagement

I joined Independent Lives in January 2021 having previously worked for Brighton Housing Trust and Sussex Oakleaf. I’m currently studying for a Level 6 Diploma in Marketing with the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

I began my career in the voluntary sector working in frontline roles, supporting people to better manage their mental health and achieve their aspirations with Sussex Oakleaf. I have also undertaken voluntary roles with Citizens Advice and Affinity Sutton where I taught digital skills to vulnerable adults.

I love working in the voluntary sector where I feel that the work, I do can help to improve communities and lives. I am looking forward to a bright future with Independent Lives.

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Emily Stevens

Human resources team leader

I joined Independent Lives in April 2022 as HR & recruitment officer, after finding my feet working in a new company and my first time working in the charity sector, I moved into the role of HR team lead in April 2023.

Coming from a background in retail management and payroll I developed a real passion for ensuring that people are treated fairly and are supported and motivated to achieve their full potential in the workplace which is what led me to a career in HR.

I enjoy working for Independent Lives because as well as having the best colleagues, no two days are the same which means I am always learning something new. It’s a company that I feel proud to be a part of.


Grahame Jones

Payroll and banking team leader

I joined Independent Lives in November 2009, initially as a Payroll Co-ordinator and now Payroll & Banking Team Leader.

Previously I have worked for a Cosmetic, Telecommunications and a Manufacturing company within their payroll department spanning 18 years.

I get personal satisfaction from helping other people and making their lives easier.


Jack Elsdon

Training and development lead

I joined Independent Lives in 2019 as Recruitment Officer, before changing roles to Finance & Operations Manager, then Registered Manager and ultimately my current position as Training and Development Lead for the Independent Lives care service.

I have higher national diploma in economics and have recently obtained a second higher national diploma in operations management.

I love working in social care because I get to make a massive difference in people's lives every day, achieving real change for the people we support.

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Holly Franklin

Support service team leader

I recently joined Independent Lives in August of 2022.  I have previously worked as a team leader within the insurance sector and more recently within private healthcare.

Getting the chance to transfer my people manager skills over to the charity sector is something I am very excited for as not only does it give me the chance to work with my fantastic team but it also allows me to make a real difference to the people who need it most.

Since joining Independent Lives,  it is very clear that the whole team from admin to care are extremely dedicated to the task in hand. Which is evident when looking at the high level of results and customer feedback produced.

It feels great to work for the good guys! I’m excited to see what journey this wonderful organisation will take me on.