Trustees of SPARK Community Space

Spark community space trustee - Becki Simmons

Becki Simmons

Founder Trustee

Hello my name is Becki, I am 49 years young, and “Spark” has long been an idea of mine which began over 7 years ago. I previously worked in the travel industry as a Company Secretary and loved every minute of the high stress of the business world, but after many years of suffering with excruciating headaches and lots of lumbar punctures I was told I would be blind within months unless I had emergency brain surgery and a VP shunt fitted. It was whilst recovering from this trauma that it was evident I would not be able to return to the job I loved. It was a slow recovery due to the lengthy time it took to diagnose.

After a year I had a conversation with a friend of mine who worked for a charity. He asked if I’d like to volunteer and I jumped at the chance. However, I was extremely lacking in confidence due to the operation. I thought it was a different me who faced people! My friend encouraged me to fly, and over time I did. I realised I was different, but still ME! I ended up supervising a new shop they opened. That’s when the idea for “Spark” started to grow!

I moved on from volunteering there as we moved house, to be closer to friends who I needed for support. I knew though that a charity shop with a “Cuppa & Cake” section would work for people who felt they didn’t ‘fit’. They could come and feel safe and start to get confident and discover their strength. I opened this idea as a pilot scheme in Southsea and it was amazing! People began connecting with each other rather than feeling isolated, and they became part of their local community! I saw it grow and those who came, began to Spark back into Life. I still need the support of others and sometimes have the odd wobbly day, but I’m more convinced than ever that this works and that there are many more people out there just needing a Spark in their lives.

Spark community space trustee - Louise Mant

Louise Mant


Hello I’m Louise, when I first came to Portsmouth I worked for several years running a lunch club for the homeless and those with substance abuse problems. It was while working with people whose lives had taken wrong turns which led them to end up on the street and addicted to drink and drugs, that I realised how easy it is for someone to slip through the cracks. For some of these street drinkers and rough sleepers there had been a time when their lives could have been turned around, if someone had believed in them or an opportunity had been open to them, they might have taken a different path.

Later, it became apparent that our youngest daughter had complex and severe additional needs, I found that it would be easy for us to slip into unemployment, depression and benefits dependency as working and caring for a disabled child is very difficult. I saw how many of the parents of children at the Special School were isolated and unable to sustain meaningful employment, and I myself experienced friends drifting away, invitations drying up and we, as a family, found that a circle of people we could rely upon got steadily smaller. When asked to be a Trustee for this Charity I was delighted to accept. This project is just the intervention which could keep someone off the streets by plugging them back into society when they feel lost, a kind supportive community which could nurture and encourage those to find a place to Spark.

Spark community space trustee - Jackie Evans

Jackie Evans


Hello my name is Jackie Evans and I’m delighted to have been asked to join as a Trustee. Having seen the fantastic community that can be created by just believing in people and treating them as individuals inspires me to become involved, to do something.

I am very much a people person and find that everyone has a story, you have a story, I have a story. Today’s fast paced life doesn’t allow us time to hear people’s stories but that’s where Spark is different. It allows room for people’s stories to be told and listened to, how amazing is that.


Harriet Layfiled - Spark trustee

Harriet Layfield


My name is Harriet Layfield and I first became involved in Sparks in 2021 after developing long Covid. I had to have a lot of time off work and I lost my purpose and felt quite isolated. I started going to meetings online then at Sherlocks bar. I’m now back at work so I pop into our new meeting space when I can. I am so thrilled to be able to be a trustee for Sparks, to support Becki and to help this amazing charity grow!

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