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About Us

ASCEND is based within the South Oxhey housing estate in Hertfordshire.    It is a close-knit community, with a current population of over 13,000 people and it is not uncommon to have second and third generations of families living here.

In the 1990’s, the estate was recognised nationally as one of 80 Single Regeneration Budget areas in the UK – measured by Government social deprivation indicators and high unemployment figures.  Local people began to realise that they needed to do something to help South Oxhey become more stable in terms of employment and housing – where all members of the community could have a feeling of belonging.

ASCEND opened its doors in August 1996 at All Saints’ Church Centre, South Oxhey.  It was founded by a small group of local people lead by the Rev. Ann Douglas, to counteract the problems on the estate.  As ASCEND became established, it took over the running of a homeless project for young people aged 16 to 25, also based at the church. The homeless work continues today through Herts Young Homeless.

Our Aims

ASCENDs services are available to anyone living in the South Oxhey and Three Rivers District.  We also see people from the surrounding areas of Watford, Borehamwood and St Albans and many of our projects are Hertfordshire wide. We aim to:-

  • Provide education and training opportunities.
  • Develop client IT skills, in order to improve confidence, self-esteem and increased employability.
  • Move people forward by challenging perceived barriers to education and training; providing people with more choice and control over their lives.
  • Develop new services and training opportunities to reflect the changing needs of our clients.
  • Develop new initiatives supporting social prescribing, mental health & wellbeing and the loneliness agenda.
  • Support the most vulnerable people in society.

ASCEND’s services are for all local people, whatever their age, needs or beliefs. We are fully committed to privacy,  safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all our clients.   Click here to see our ASCEND Statement on PREVENT and Safeguarding  .   Click here to see our ASCEND  Short Privacy Policy – May 18 (1) (2)

Our Staff

ASCEND has four members of staff and team-work really matters to them as no two days are ever alike.  High standards of professionalism and training play an important part in their everyday work.  Their achievements were first recognised in 2003 when ASCEND became the first project in Hertfordshire to received the Matrix accreditation award for Information, Advice and Guidance work. It has been re-accredited with Matrix every three years since, with the latest accreditation in October 2021 .  In 2004, ASCEND was awarded with Investors in People, (with re-accreditation in 2007) and the Plum Customer Service award.  In November 2007, ASCEND’s work was further recognised by winning the Hertfordshire Business Awards, Business in the Community category.  ASCEND has been presented with two High Sheriff of Hertfordshire awards and in 2014 ASCEND was recognised as Employer of the Year from the National Careers Service.  ASCEND has also been HAFLSs (now Step2Skills) Community Course Provider of the Year in 2016 and 2018 and joint runner up in 2020.

Jane Ross
Training Co-ordinator

Marcia Gladwin
Community Manager, Lifeline Project

Ingela Karlberg
Finance Manager

 Avril Burrows
Dig Deep Coordinator

Our Trustees

ASCEND 2022 Final accounts (signed)

Margaret Gallagher (Chair of Trustees)

Margaret has worked in the NHS as an Occupational Therapist and later lectured in Health Studies at Brunel University. She has been a school governor in Croxley Green and in retirement volunteers with the RVS and the Rickmansworth Food Bank. Her interests  are in fostering community relationships in order to assist individuals and their families.

Marie-Louise Nolan (Deputy Chair of Trustees)

Marie-Louise taught for 17 years in primary, secondary and further education, specialising in special educational needs, and also worked in local government, Parliament and trade unions. She has extensive experience working in the local community and as a board member in the voluntary sector.  Until recently, she was a National Leader of Governance supporting schools across North West London and a Director of two multi-academy trusts.

Frederick Martin Waldron (Trustee)

Martin worked in IT research for the Canadian Government, assisted US Technology companies to enter Europe, and set up his own consultancy company which he ran for 25 years specialising in Corporate Information Management.   Martin was also a visiting professor at the US University Richmond College and helped develop their MBA course.   In a voluntary capacity, Martin worked for the Probation Service to assist ex-offenders to get back into the community,  as a mentor for repeat offenders and for those wanting to start up their own business.   He set up and ran youth clubs in Bristol and Slough and developed IT courses in Canada for government employees with limited education.

Jose Tamayo (Trustee)

Jose has been working as an IT and R&D engineer for more than 20 years.  He fell in love with the British Values and decided to move to the UK with his wife and three children.  He is passionate about giving back to the community, so has got involved in different community roles, such as a school Governor and Churchwarden in South Oxhey as well as being a Parent Ambassador at Northwood School.

Annette Davis (Trustee)

Annette is a supported housing professional working for the young person’s homeless charity, Centrepoint.   She has 20 years experience working in the homeless sector.  She is passionate about service user involvement and service users having a voice.   Annette was one of ASCENDs first ever clients and is now using her experience in the social care field to give something back.

Ashwin Tirodkar

A mathematician by training, Ashwin has worked in Investment Banking and Financial Services for over 20 years. He is passionate about social justice and innovation/entrepreneurship in the third sector. In his spare time he works with social impact accelerator programs and mentors several impact-focussed start-ups.

Janet Lofthouse

After a career of 15 years in international insurance broking in the City of London, Janet spent more than 20 years designing and delivering both group and one-to-one English language and business language skills courses, mainly to executives in the financial sector on secondment in the UK. She also devised cross-cultural business briefings to promote better understanding of business/social practice, and administered an online training platform for the staff of small insurance broking firms for compliance with new regulatory requirements

She had always envisaged giving something back in retirement by volunteering in the field of adult literacy – an issue she felt strongly about – and has been able to achieve this ambition in her local community with ASCEND. She is currently involved with group classes as a teaching assistant and with an individual mentorship programme. She also could not resist the opportunity to support the teacher/clients in ASCEND’s ESOL classes.


Our Patrons

Gareth Malone OBE

” I have been associated with the charity work of ASCEND since 2008.  The professionalism and dedicated small staff team work in a sector that many philanthropists ignore because its raises tough issues with no easy answers.  ASCEND connects with and positively changes many lives in this community, giving clients time, new skills and the confidence to move forward in their lives. Since becoming a Patron in 2009, I have had the priviledge of presenting awards and certificates of achievement to many people that ASCEND has helped.  The joy, pride and emotion displayed in their success is inspirational and leaves me (and many others) with a certainty that this charity is doing a fantastic job, in tough times, with limited resources.   I am delighted to be their Patron.”


The Bishop of St Albans, The Rt. Revd Dr Alan Smith