Introducing the Greater Manchester Poverty Action Team
Graham Whitham – Director
Graham grew up in Wigan and now lives in south Manchester. He worked for Save the Children as a Senior Policy Advisor for seven years, leading a number of policy and campaign projects focussing on poverty in the UK. During this time Graham successfully influenced policy in Westminster and in the devolved nations. Graham then spent two years in a similar role at Oxfam, helping to strengthen Oxfam’s work on economic inequality in the UK.
In his current role as Director, Graham leads on GMPA’s policy, research and advocacy work and represents the organisation at a strategic level across the city region.
Graham is passionate about applying the skills and knowledge he has gained in national roles in Greater Manchester and believes that there is the potential to do more locally to tackle poverty. Graham is the founder of GMPA and is excited about working with our network to secure action on poverty.
Outside of his GMPA role, Graham is a councillor in Trafford and is currently Executive Member for Communities and Partnerships.
Tom Skinner – Director
Tom has lived in different parts of Greater Manchester nearly all his life. He coordinated several campaigns at university and was elected General Secretary of the University of Manchester Students’ Union. He then worked as Campaigns Coordinator for the SPEAK Network, before becoming self-employed in 2012, running courses in politics and campaigning, and setting up networks of charities for mutual support and collaboration.
Tom helped to establish the GM Living Wage Campaign in 2013 in response to the GM Poverty Commission’s recommendations, going on to coordinate that campaign for three years. Tom was also actively involved in Greater Manchester Poverty Action during this time, and eventually left the campaign coordinator role to become a Director of GMPA in 2016, where he oversees GMPA’s projects, including the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign and the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance.
Chris Bagley – Communications Manager
Before joining GMPA as a volunteer, Chris had been working full time for over 40 years with her two main jobs at Manchester Metropolitan University and with the Federation of Small Businesses. All her experience has proved useful in Chris’ work with GMPA.
In July 2014 Chris pulled together and sent out GMPA’s first newsletter. Now past its 120th issue its circulation increases all the time and GMPA is contacted every week about contributions and regularly complimented on its content. Chris also created and maintains GMPA’s maps of support services, manages GMPA’s website and social media pages and assists with the organisation of GMPA’s events.
John Hacking – GM Living Wage Campaign Coordinator
John has lived in South Manchester for many years and his employment background has been mostly in the voluntary and community sector developing social enterprises and working on employment and skills projects in Moss Side and Hulme. Latterly he has worked for a North West charity helping VCSE organisations to increase the amount of European Funding coming into communities in the North West to help to tackle poverty and inequality.
In his current role with GMPA, John co-ordinates the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign.
John has a lifelong commitment to raising the aspirations and living standards of the poor and marginalised in our communities and has a deep commitment to collaborative and co-operative working.
Outside of his GMPA role, John is a councillor in Manchester and Chair of the MCC Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee. He is also a Governor at The Manchester College and at his local primary school.
Beatrice Smith – Tameside Poverty Truth Commission Facilitator
Beatrice was born in Rwanda and grew up there until the genocide of 1994 forced her and her family to flee to the UK. She spent her teenage years in London and moved to Manchester in 2002 to study at University. On Graduating, she spent nearly a decade working as a policy coordinator for the DWP until 2015.
Since then, Beatrice has worked to help build a network of grassroots projects and charities within Manchester and Tameside, where she lives.
Beatrice is passionate about social justice and in April 2020, she came on board as a Facilitator for the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission.
Outside of her role with the PTC, she is a speaker and author of The Search for Home, which chronicles hers and her family’s journey from Rwanda to the UK as refugees.
Sian Mullen – Food Poverty Programme Coordinator
Sian has worked in the development and humanitarian sectors both in the UK and abroad for many years. She is passionate about working to alleviate poverty to create a more equal society, and is excited to be focusing on reducing food poverty in Greater Manchester.
Sian has lived in Manchester since 2012 when she came to complete her PhD in Humanitarianism.
Prior to joining GMPA she worked as a programme manager with Oxfam, coordinating their poverty alleviation programme across Greater Manchester. She has also been an active volunteer with several charities involved in food provision including during the Covid-19 response.
Meet the Team