Meet Our Board

​Salford Mental Health Forum has a board of Trustees that are responsible for:

  • Furthering the charity’s overall purpose, as set out in its governing document, and setting its direction and strategy – for example, by developing plans and strategies and monitoring progress.

  • Ensuring the work of the charity is effective, responsible and legal – for example, by the use of policies and procedures and systems for monitoring and evaluating the charity’s work.

  • Safeguarding finances, resources and property and ensuring they are used to further the charity’s purposes – for example, by insuring and documenting assets, maintaining financial systems, monitoring income and expenditure and ensuring the charity is financially sustainable or viable.

  • Being ‘accountable’ to those with an interest or stake in or who regulate the charity – for example, by preparing annual reports and accounts and consulting with stakeholders. (link to risk?)

  • Being clear about the people who carry out work on behalf of the charity – trustees, staff, volunteers –establishing and respecting boundaries between the governance role of the board and operational or day to day matters.

  • Ensuring the board operates effectively – for example, ensuring it receives the right reports and advice, by planning the recruitment and induction of trustees, providing trustees with support and training or carrying out reviews or appraisals of the board’s effectiveness.


Dan Stears


I have been diagnosed with Mental Health since an early age, after many years of not knowing how to manage it and numerous admissions to hospital, I got the opportunity to get involved in shaping the way services are run and in 2017 became a Service User & Carer Governor at Greater Manchester Mental Health  Trust (GMMH). Since then I have taken on numerous roles within both the VCSE & Public sectors. I am currently on the GMP Independent Advisory Board, I tutor a course at GMMH's Recovery academy around being LGBT & Living with Mental ill-health, Trustee of Mind in Salford, an independent Inspector for NHS England, I form part of an award-winning Research group at the University of Manchester and do guest lectures at UCLAN. In 2019, I was shortlisted for the 'Josie Browne Personal Achievement Volunteer Award' as well as the GMMH 'We Work Together' Award for the work that I do in Salford and for the Forum.


Under my tenure as chair, we have grown from an unincorporated organisation to a CIO, we have secured funding in excess of £50k between 2018 and 2020 and have become a partner organisation for Living Well Salford.


SMHF is something I have been passionate about since the first days of taking the position of chair and have tirelessly promoted it and the work we are able to do. However, I believe we still have a long way to go to make sure that we are truly heard and that all the services that are commissioned in our city have the citizen's voices and experiences at its heart.

I have been working in social care and support services in both the public and charitable sectors for the majority of my working life. Most of my experience has been within operational management, primarily supporting older people and people with learning disabilities and mental health.  I am currently working at ForHousing with lead responsibility for managing the supported housing services and tenancy sustainment and support teams.


My passion is to ensure that people experiencing mental ill health are provided with the best support available to not only live well in their homes, but to also thrive by creating opportunities to meet their full potential and aspirations.


I strongly believe that in order for the mental health system to improve, we need to truly listen to the voices of people with lived experience, including their carers. Services need to be shaped and offered based on the voices of people with lived experience and those who use mental health services as they are best placed to say what they need from these services, rather than being seen as just passive users in the system.

I am looking forward to being involved in the development of the Forum and working together to offer the best outcomes for the people living in Salford.


Karen Fitzsimon


Vania Burnell

I joined SMHF, following my involvement with Salford Healthwatch.


Since being diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition, the toughest thing was what it did with my mental health.


I joined SMHF so I could be around people who had lived experience of mental health. Just talking and being part of an group which encourages all members to reach their goals certainly helped me considerably.


I feel very priviledged to be Vice Chair of the forum and also a Peer Mentor for mental health.