From the series Portrait.
Emma Ratzer MBE CEO Access Community Trust
“I have worked for Access Community Trust since 2007, first joining as operations manager, then director of services and now CEO since 2013.
I proudly received an MBE in June 2019 for services to Suffolk.
I left school with very little qualifications, having spent the final 2 years avoiding school at any cost. I now have an MBA and an MA.
The Trust completely re-branded in 2013, moving from St Johns Housing Trust to Access. Introducing and facilitating an organisation wide cultural change, I mentor and coach staff offering an ‘acceleration’ approach to career development. I empower my staff to deliver services that are shaped by the needs of our communities, designing positive experiences that inspire to aspire.
The charitable sector is one that is becoming more and more challenging, with a constant requirement to balance funding cuts and increasing demands, but my drive and passion is sparked by a reality that tells me our people view their future within the confines of poverty of hope, not just poverty of income.
Changing our own workplace environment by employing 16 to 18 year olds has been one such response. Sams Coffee House in Lowestoft is our flagship social enterprise project which hosts a variety of volunteering and apprenticeship opportunities, events such as a language café, youth clubs and peer support groups for people in recovery. Our apprentices are taken directly from the community in which we are based, many of whom live with us, all of them accessing our support services. My organisation is relentlessly positive and resilient, using our influence to power change and I am incredibly honored to lead the charge”