Helen McFarlane

Helen believes social enterprises such as Tobacco Free Futures have the passion and commitment to make a real difference in the communities they serve, and grow their influence to tackle social problems for the benefit of wider society.

As a parent, Helen is well aware of the pressures on young people around smoking and the urgent need to combat the unhelpful messages they receive regarding tobacco use. She also finds it unacceptable that babies born within a mile of each other will have significantly different life expectancies and life chances simply because of the circumstances in which they live. Helen understands the role tobacco plays in this relationship and believes Tobacco Free Futures can show the way to enable children, young people and their parents to make smoking history. In doing so we will be building skills to help them make other changes and live long, happy and healthy lives.

After graduating from Manchester University with an Honours Degree in Zoology in 1975, Helen embarked on a career in the probation service where, over 25 years, she held a number of specialist and managerial posts in the Greater Manchester area. As Assistant Chief Probation Officer, Helen played a key strategic role in the development of substance misuse policy and was a trustee for Lifeline, a charity delivering drug treatment programmes.

In 1999, Helen was appointed as Head of Youth Offending Services for Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council to establish the Youth Offending team in the Borough. In 2006, she was appointed Director for a wide portfolio of services encompassing the lead role for the Council on community safety, culture, sport, civil contingency, substance misuse and neighbourhood working.

Helen has been a key member of several Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and also Chair of the Adult Safeguarding Board in Trafford. She has a reputation for innovation and excellent practice and services she has led have received numerous recognition and awards, including the LGC/HSJ 2010 Community Partnerships Awards.

Helen is one of the Founder Directors and Chair of the Board of Salford Health Matters, a social enterprise delivering primary health care services in disadvantaged areas of Salford. In 2007, Salford Health Matters was awarded Department of Health Pathfinder status.

Helen retired from her post of Director, Safe Strong Communities in April 2012. She remains actively involved with Salford Health Matters and is also a Frontrunner volunteer for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.