Young children running

About us

Our main aim is to protect and enhance the lives of the children of Reading. We help families find long-term solutions to ensure children lead happy, healthy and successful lives.

How we are governed

BFfC is an alternative delivery model company limited by guarantee, wholly owned by Reading Borough Council, but run by an independent Board of Directors. The Chair of the Board and its Non-Executive Directors were recruited to bring senior-level skills and experience from different sectors. A representative of RBC sits on the Board along with Executive Directors responsible for the day-to-day operation of the company. The Board is responsible for setting the strategy of the company, ensuring that the contract objectives are met, and safeguarding the children and young people of Reading.

Di Smith


Picture of Di Smith, Board Chair

Di Smith brings a breadth of experience in education and children’s services to the Board of Brighter Futures for Children. She has been a DCS in four different areas and in the last few years has provided improvement support in several local authorities.

She has been a member of the children’s workforce for over forty years and is passionate about improving the outcomes and life chances of children and young people, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Di has worked in residential care, been a head teacher, Ofsted inspector and chair of governors and held senior leadership positions in six local authorities

As Independent Chair of the former Children’s Services Improvement Board in Reading she has supported the progress that has been made since 2016. She holds a number of other positions including that of Independent Chair/Scrutineer of Croydon’s Safeguarding Children’s Partnership, Safeguarding Trustee at The Children’s Society and Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Advisory Committee for the Diocese in Europe.

Richard Harbord

Interim Executive Director of Finance & Resources

Picture of Richard Harbord, interim Executive Director of Finance and Resources

Richard spent his main career in Local Government, working in eight Local Authorities in London and the South East.

Richard became Chief Executive and Director of Finance at the London Borough of Richmond in 1988 and became Managing Director of London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in 1999. He left there in 2002 to commence his own consultancy business.

Richard is on the Council of Cipfa (16 years) and remains on the Council of IRRV (30 years). He lectures and writes widely on Local Government issues, mainly on Management and Finance.

Since starting his own business he has been Interim Director of Finance and Chief Executive for a number of authorities of all sizes and the National Union of Students. He has worked for five Government Departments and carried out a range of investigations and inquiries.

Richard is a past president of the Society of London Treasurers, Society of Metropolitan Treasurers and Institute of Rating Revenues and Valuation. He made a return for a second term  as President of IRRV  in 2014.

Deborah Glassbrook

Executive Director of Children’s Services

Picture of Deborah Glassbrook, Executive Director of Children's Services

Deborah, who was appointed as DCS in November 2019, describes herself as ‘a social worker through and through’ and has a deep and thorough  understanding of the issues we face.

She joins BFfC from Achieving for Children, where she was Director of Improvement. Deborah’s wealth of experience in children’s social care and specifically in improving quality and performance, will be instrumental in the journey ahead.

Deborah is looking forward to building on the company’s recently improved Ofsted rating and helping to drive up standards by embedding new ways of working, improving practice and keeping up the positive momentum as we work towards ‘outstanding’.

Antony Byrne

Non-Executive Director

Tony is currently the CEO for DEBRA UK, a national charity that supports individuals and families affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). He also holds Non-Executive Director positions for Cumbria County Holdings Ltd, Orian Solutions Ltd and Cumbria Waste Management Ltd, commercial companies wholly owned by Cumbria County Council involved in catering, cleaning and waste management.

Tony has held numerous senior management positions in various industries including catering, facilities management, hotels and retail. He has worked in the UK and Internationally.

His previous non-executive positions have been for the School Food Trust (Department of Education), Springboard, The Inspire and Achieve Foundation and finally as a Governor for Salesian College (Farnborough) Ltd where he was Chair of Governors for four years and served on the Board for a total of nine years. He has been a Governor for a primary school as well.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Certified Member of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management.

Nicola Gilham

Non-Executive Director

picture of Nicola Gillham, Non-Executive Director

Nicola is a portfolio NED focused on the health and social care sector. As a qualified chartered accountant, she has experience of sitting on both operating and executive boards within the UK and Australia.

In addition to executive roles at Arthur Andersen and Michael Page, she was latterly Chief Executive at a leading HR recruitment consultancy. Nicola is currently NED for Turning Point ( a social enterprise, providing specialist and integrated services which focus on improving lives and communities across mental health, learning disability, substance misuse). She is also a NED for both Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust, and Vice Chair of Child Bereavement UK.

At BFfC, Nicola is Chair of both the Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) Committee and Finance Committee. She also sits on the Audit and Risk Committee.

Paul Snell

Non-Executive Director

picture of Paul Snell, Non-Executive Director

Paul currently works as an Independent Executive Coach and Mentor. Prior to this he had a 33-year career in social care, starting as a qualified Social Worker, and subsequently holding a range of middle and senior management posts in local and central government including, Corporate Director of Social Services Nottingham City Council and Chief Inspector for the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

Paul has a strong social care background, an understanding of the national regulatory environment and extensive Board experience. He was a Board Member with Ofsted from 2011-2018 with a specific lead role in relation to Ofsted’s social care responsibilities and safeguarding. He was also a Trustee, Council Member and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee for the children’s charity, Action for Children.

Paul is currently a Board Member with Care Visions, an independent children’s social care provider in Scotland delivering high quality residential, foster care and aftercare, and is a Co-Opted Member on the Service Delivery Committee of the NSPCC. Since 2010 he has also been Chair of a small niche consulting and coaching company focused on organisation, team and individual development.

Seona Douglas

Non-Executive Director

Picture of Seona Douglas, Non-Executive Director and Reading Borough Council's representative on the Board

Seona is Director of Adult Care and Health Services for Reading Borough Council. She represents the Council on the board. She has worked in social care for over 40 years and joined Reading in 2017 from Oxfordshire County Council, where she held the post of Deputy Director of Adult Social Care for more than three years.

She has previous experience of working across Berkshire, in both Children and Adult services both as a front-line social worker and manager, and also has experience of managing across health and social care services.

Seona is passionate about practice and has kept up to date with her own development and is a member of the Research in Practice Board and is Chair of the National Safeguarding Policy Network for ADASS.