CEO of independent living specialist to step down

Fanchea Kelly, CEO of Blackwood

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Fanchea Kelly is moving on after a decade with Blackwood

THE head of Scotland’s leading independent living specialist has announced she is stepping down, after 10 years with the charity which has transformed its fortunes.

Fanchea Kelly will leave her role as the Chief Executive of Blackwood in early 2023, after a decade which has established the organisation as the country’s leading proponent of technology to help people live independently.

Already recognised as one of the most knowledgeable experts in the sector, since taking on the role Fanchea has championed the rights of people to live their life to the full and make choices in how they remain independent.  

After making her announcement to the charity’s Board and 600 staff, Fanchea said: “The people are what make Blackwood so special. It is a brilliant organisation with great teams whose first instinct is always to look after customers. 

“I will leave in the knowledge that because of that Blackwood will go from strength to strength.

“The past 10 years have been a whirlwind focused on our end goal of creating modern accessible homes and services with integrated technology. Looking back, I’m so proud of how far we have come, serving many more customers and ensuring Blackwood is resilient in the context of the many challenges we all face.

“I haven’t yet confirmed what I will do after Blackwood, but I know it will be a high bar to live up to my time here. While there is much more to do to improve independent living, I know that our dedicated board of trustees and executive team will continue to drive positive change.”

Blackwood operates more than 1500 properties across 28 local authorities. Having previously integrated Freespace’s customers and staff, Fanchea recently oversaw the successful merger of Abbeyfield Scotland Housing Association, after its 106 residents voted by a 99% majority to become part of Blackwood.

During the past decade the award-winning Blackwood House has been developed in several communities in Scotland, demonstrating a new standard of accessibility. Each home can be adapted to include a host of benefits such as lift access, remotely controlled automated functions, and digital care and housing system – all aimed at helping people to live as independently as possible.

Each of the developments is fitted with Blackwood’s proprietary “CleverCogs” digital system developed with people so that they can customise it to suit their life.

The Blackwood Design Awards are now an annual fixture, attracting innovations and inventions from tech hubs, universities, and a host of other sources across the globe.

Previous winners have delivered vital life aids for people who are ageing or have disabilities, including an app that makes living spaces safer for people with dementia and a “spill proof” spoon for those affected by conditions which cause them to shake.

Meanwhile Blackwood also launched its pioneering £12.5m, three-year Peoplehood project with major industry and academic partners to create neighbourhoods of the future, which promote healthy ageing and help people live independently in their own homes.

Julie McDowell, Chair of Blackwood, said: “Fanchea has been an outstanding CEO over the last ten years. I want to acknowledge her significant contribution and thank her on behalf of the Board. We will miss her, and we wish her the very best success in her future endeavours.”

Blackwood’s board of trustees is working with recruitment agency, FWB Park Brown to select a new Chief Executive For more information on Blackwood and its work, please visit: https://www.blackwoodgroup.org.uk

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