Meet the Team

Christine Towers


Christine has over 35 years’ experience of working with people with learning disabilities and their families. During this time, she has worked in the not-for-profit sector as well as health and social care services with a focus on the development and management of services. Christine has also been involved in a number of research projects. Central to her work has been developing ideas alongside people with learning disabilities and their families, partnership working and person-centred approaches. She was a member of the National Valuing Families Forum for over ten years.

She worked at the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities for 10 years where her particular areas of interest were planning with families, improving the quality of support, older people with learning disabilities and the development of social and community networks. 

Christine says: ‘I set up Together Matters as I believe that talking, planning and working together help people to find new approaches to overcome hurdles and can lead to people with learning disabilities getting good lives. I hope you find our ideas and information useful and feel inspired to get in touch to work together.’

Katy Bessent


Katy worked as a quality checker for over five years and also works as an advocate for other people with learning disabilities.  In both roles she has used her skills and knowledge to support people to speak up about the things they are not happy about. Katy then makes sure the right person hears about these issues so that changes can be made and people’s lives get better.

Katy also has skills in making information easier to read and worked on the wording and pictures of I’m Thinking Ahead.

Katy says: ‘I visited a young woman last year who was having problems with staff and having a tough time. I talked to her and listened to her, which is so important, and wrote down what she said in a report. I went back this year and found that things were getting better and she was being listened to. Doing quality checking is hard work but I love to see people getting better support and having a good life.’

Pat Charlesworth


Pat has been a passionate and leading member of the Carers with Learning Disabilities Network for over ten years and represented the work of this group on the National Valuing Families Forum. She regularly speaks about the experience of people with learning disabilities who have a caring role and advocates to improve support for this group of carers.

Pat has also been a member of the GOLD (Growing Older with Learning Disabilities) group for many years and has raised awareness about the issues faced by people as they grow older, including living with dementia.

Chelsea Spence


Chelsea is a healthcare practitioner with specialist knowledge in palliative care as well as a mentorship qualification. She worked in children’s palliative care for a number of years and has a volunteer telephone role at an adult hospice. She is also the sister of a young woman who has profound physical and learning disabilities and complex medical needs. This gives Chelsea a real understanding of what is possible when the right support is in place. She has a keen interest in how young people with profound disabilities are supported as they move into adult life and how to overcome the gaps and lack of inclusion. Chelsea is working with Together Matters to explore and share ideas about what helps young people to have meaningful opportunities at this time in their lives.

Chelsea says: ‘Reaching 18 years of age is a huge milestone for anyone but for young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities is even more significant. The transition process can be a treacherous journey for them and their families. I want to help make it less of a scary path. Only with awareness, education and action can we strive to adapt, improve and develop services and support for young people and families at this crucial stage.’

Cindy Glover


Cindy worked with Christine to run peer support groups for older people with learning disabilities to talk about growing older and living with dementia and to develop the Talking Together resource. Cindy is very creative and loves devising activities to help people talk about their experiences, remember things from their past and learn new ways to help them cope with difficulties in their lives (such as becoming forgetful). Cindy trained as an occupational therapist and has many years’ experience of working with older people and particularly those living with dementia.

Cindy says: ‘People with learning disabilities need more opportunities to talk about dementia to understand what is happening in their life or in the lives of family and friends. I believe groups can be a supportive and fun way for people to understand about the experiences of others as well as developing their own ways of coping with things they are finding difficult.’

Toby Williamson

Toby has many years’ experience of working in and managing frontline mental health services, research, evaluation, practice and service development, and policy work, and for the last ten years has particularly focused on dementia and the Mental Capacity Act. He has particular expertise and experience in rights, values, social inclusion, empowerment and working with seldom heard groups.
Toby has worked with Together Matters to develop ideas about how people with learning disabilities can be supported to make decisions in their lives.

Toby says: “Issues such as values, rights, inclusion, equalities and community are important for all people whatever their disability or health condition. It’s important to form partnership and alliances to work positively and campaign on these issues. And it’s really important always to support people, whether they have a learning disability or dementia, and their families and friends, to be at the centre and in the driving seat of this work.”