Our area directors manage our services across three regions

Our team manages services for children and young people across three geographical areas, each led by an area director. The areas are the North, the Midlands and the South.

In addition, the three area directors have thematic lead roles: Rob Jackson leads on services that focus on a lack of resources that young peope face such as money or social support; Rob Willoughby leads on services that work to improve emotional and mental health and well-being in children and young people; and Gary Thomas leads on services to help children and young people who suffer from neglect, abuse, exploitation and violence.


Rob Jackson - Area Director, North of England

 Rob Jackson, Area Director - North of England

Rob joined The Children's Society in 2007, and took up the role of Area Director four years ago. He now has responsibility for the charity’s services supporting children and young people across the north of England.

Prior to joining The Children's Society, Rob worked for a local charity in Greater Manchester which focussed on engaging challenging young people through vocational pathways. He previously worked in central and eastern Africa for three and a half years with an international relief and development charity, including in a community development capacity in Uganda and an emergency relief role with internally displaced people in Burundi.

Rob has an MA (Econ) in Development and Management through the Institute of Development, Policy and Management (IDPM) at the University of Manchester, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership in Health and Social Care.

For five years, up to 2016, Rob was a member of a Local Safeguarding Children Board.


Rob Willoughby - Area Director, Midlands

 Rob Willoughby - Area Director, Midlands

Rob has been the Area Director for The Children's Society in the Midlands for four years. He leads on Mental Health services for the charity, and has developed innovative approaches and partnerships to better respond to the challenges vulnerable young people face.

He has a wide and varied background as a senior officer in Local Authority (LA), NHS and Central Government. As an Assistant Director for Wolverhampton LA, Rob was responsible for a wide range of community and targeted services, including safeguarding and quality assurance of children's services.

While working for Government Office West Midlands, Rob led on a joint LA/NHS adolescent health framework, as well as chairing the regional Tier 4 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) commissioning arrangements. Rob has a particular interest in the way that vulnerable young people access services. 


Gary Thomas - Area Director, South and South West England

 Gary Thomas, Area Director - South and South West England

Gary has been at The Children Society since 2013, initially providing leadership for the organisation's South West Children and Young People operations.

Gary is currently the Area Director for the South England area (includes South West; South East, East of England and London) and also has leadership responsibilities for our Post Adoption and Care Team.

Before joining The Children’s Society Gary held senior leadership roles at Depaul UK, National Childminding Association, Action for Children, and within Local Authorities within the South East and London areas.

His experience includes directing the planning, development and delivery of services including children’s social care, safeguarding services, homelessness services, youth offending, early years and childcare services.

Gary is a registered and a degree-qualified social worker and has a Masters in Leadership and Management of Voluntary Organisations.