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

picture of Tony Byrne, Non-Executive Director

Tony is the CEO for DEBRA UK, a national charity that supports individuals and families affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). He is also a Non Executive Director for Orian Solutions Ltd, a wholly owned catering and FM company of Cumbria County Council.

Tony has previously worked with Interserve plc where he held senior management positions responsible for Technical Services, First Security, Total Facilities Management, Fire, Water, Energy and Catering divisions. He was Executive Director for Compass UK & Ireland responsible for Education, Healthcare and Defence, supplying both catering and soft services working both in the UK and internationally.

In his early career he held management positions with M & S, Allied Breweries, Kingfisher and Whitbread as well as working for his father’s company GWP Associates.

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 Member of the British Institute of 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 also 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 member of their Audit Committee.

She is  a NED for both Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust, and she is Vice Chair of Child Bereavement UK.

At BFfC, Nicola sits on the Audit and Risk Committee and is Chair of the Fostering and Adoption Committee. She also chairs the Recruitment and Retention Working Group, as well as the Finance Working Group.

Paul Snell

Non-Executive Director

picture of Paul Snell, Non-Executive Director

Paul is currently a Co-Opted Member on the Service Delivery Committee for the NSPCC, a position he has held since December and since 2010 he has been Chair of WDI – a small niche consulting and coaching company focused on organisation, team and individual development. He has also been a Board Member since 2012 with Care Visions, a children’s and adult’s social care provider, delivering high quality residential care and fostering in Scotland and care at home in England.

Formerly, Paul was a Board Member with Ofsted from 2011 until January this year, with a specific lead role in relation to Ofsted’s social care responsibilities and safeguarding. Until recently he was also National Trustee, Council Member and Chair of Audit for Action for Children. In 2012 Paul spent a year as a Development Consultant for the Health Information and Quality Authority – the health and social care regulator for the Republic of Ireland. He led the development and implementation of a new methodology to undertake the first ever inspection programme of child protection in Ireland.

Paul currently works as an Independent Executive Coach and Mentor. Before this he had a 33-year career in Social Care. Starting as a qualified Social Worker, he worked for Coventry City Council and then moved on to be Assistant Director of Social Services for Birmingham City Council, Chief Social Services Officer for the London Borough of Bexley and Corporate Director of Social Services and Acting Chief Executive for Nottingham City Council. In 2004 he joined the Commission for Social Care Inspection as Director of Inspection Regulation & Review, then becoming Chief Inspector and Chief Executive in 2006 for 3 years. Paul spent 6 months in 2009 as Interim Chief Executive of the General Social Care Council. He has strong social care and regulatory understanding with extensive board experience.

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.