Sarah Anthony is our Thrive Director, joining in September 2014 after working for Tearfund and Oxfam.
Before she moved to Oxfordshire, Sarah lived in a London council estate. She says, ‘I made a lot of great friends there, some of whom were struggling with the limited options life had given them. We ‘did life’ together, helping each other in times of need and celebrating in times of joy.’
Sarah oversees the work of existing Thrive teams and identifies partners and locations for new teams in other disadvantaged communities.
Sarah is married to John and enjoys reading, baking, running and hiking in the countryside.
Robin Peake moved to Barton in 2011 and joined Thrive as a volunteer. He is now Thrive’s Development Manager, helping supporters and the local community to invest in young people and release their potential.
Robin still volunteers with Thrive, meeting weekly with a young person for mentoring, and is on the Leadership Team at Barton Community Church. He lives in Barton with his wife Debs, and son Judah.
Erica Payne moved from the picturesque Cotswolds in May 2015 to join Thrive as a Team Leader in Barton.
Erica has eight years’ experience as a youth worker in quite different contexts: as a church youth worker in Burford and facilitating restorative justice sessions for high-risk youth in Oxford’s Cutteslowe estate.
With a JNC qualification and a BA Hons in Youth and Community Work, Erica helps the team in Barton with mentoring and running youth projects to help the vision become reality.
Erica is married to Sam and they have a lovely daughter, Isabelle (Ibby). She enjoys making gifts, upcycling furniture and generally making things look pretty!
Kerstin Kestner grew up in Bangladesh and India, “but my passport says I’m German”. She moved from overseas to join the Leys Youth Programme (now Thrive Leys) in January 2015 to journey with the young people growing up in the estate.
Kerstin is a full-time youth worker with Thrive Leys where her degree in Social Work helps her to mentor young girls to empower them to reach their potential.
Kerstin says, “Being young is an amazing and significant time of your life. It’s a time when you are shaping your views of the world and discovering your identity. The Leys is full of amazing, energetic and smart young people. If we think of their lives as a football match, I want to be their cheerleader and coach. I want to be part of their match, whether they are winning or losing, whether they have gotten a red card or they have scored a goal. And I want to introduce them to the biggest and best cheerleader and coach of all – Jesus.”
Kerstin loves football, swimming, and travelling (especially to warm places).
Dan Barker first joined Thrive as a volunteer, mentoring a young person from the estate and helping run summer activities.
We spotted his talent for helping young people develop skills and confidence so were delighted when he joined us in February 2017 from Oxfordshire County Council where he specialised in engaging and supporting vulnerable young people labelled as NEET (not in education, employment or training).
Dan says, “Thrive has already had significant impact in Barton and that’s something I wanted to be a part of. Having spent time working with vulnerable young people, I’m now able to do that as part of the community and the Thrive team.
“I wanted to see young people overcome the challenges they face and realise and achieve their potential. I’m excited to support young people in Barton fulfil their full potential, find purpose in life and develop as leaders.”
Matt Warmington joined Thrive in September 2017 and leads the team in South Abingdon.
Matt grew up in Oxford and has spent most of his life in Blackbird Leys, so he understands what it feels like to grow up on an estate.
Matt says, “I spent most of my time hanging out on street corners or playing football till it got dark. That’s what I was good at. At the age of 15 I was due to drop out of school and not take my GCSE’s. But then I met a guy through a mentoring program who invested his time and effort in me. I went on to take all my GCSE’s and become an Assistant Youth Worker at the age of 17 and I later won Apprentice of the Year for the country.
“I knew from that point that I wanted to see young people become empowered and grow in self-esteem.”
Matt has lots of experience of working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and has qualifications in Mentoring, Advice and Guidance, Detached Work and Social Care.
“I believe that Jesus has a heart for these young people. He promises in Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ My heart is to see young people become leaders and be set free from things that inhibit them, so that they can reach their God-given potential.”
Matt is married to Charlotte and enjoys football, basketball, American football and travelling.
Want to get in touch with one of our team? Contact us.
“Adam's been great support to AJ because his Dad passed away ... This for me is really good knowing that AJ has got somebody that he can chill out with, talk to, and who can support him when I'm not around.”