Bruce Calderwood, from London, has been appointed a trustee to the Group Board of Avenues – a group of non-profit organisations that supports people in community-based settings across the UK who have complex needs arising from learning disabilities, autism, acquired brain injury or dementia, including challenging behaviour.
Much of Bruce’s working life has been dedicated to improving outcomes for people in a number of senior policy roles, advising Ministers on strategies for older people, disability equality, mental health, adults with autism, and people with challenging behaviour.
He has worked in the Department of Work and Pensions and its predecessor the Department of Social Security, on housing, state benefits and disability. His final role from 2009 – 2013 was Director of Mental Health, Disability and Equality in the Department of Health.
Bruce’s first job on leaving school was working as a ward orderly in one of the large hospitals for learning disabled people, which has long since closed. Years later, as a civil servant, he set up the Office for Disability Issues, whose role was to help the government meet its aim of achieving disability equality within a generation.
In giving his motivation for the trusteeship role with Avenues Group, Bruce specifically referred to the Winterbourne View expose on BBC’s Panorama television programme which he described as the worst in its vindictiveness than anything he had seen at the start of his working life. The Department of Health review, which he was instrumental in conducting, led to a dramatic increase in support to keep people safe and thriving at home – the sort that is currently being undertaken by Avenues Group.
Although now retired, Bruce is still pursuing a variety of interests, including chairing Care Quality Commission inspections of mental health trusts and training members of the armed forces community in mental health first aid. “I decided that it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and help to deliver the support for people that I spent the last ten years of my working life advocating”, he says.
“Few people have such impressive credentials and expertise in the social policy arena, from both a personal and professional perspective”, says Steve James, longstanding Group Chief Executive Officer. “We are most fortunate to have his depth of knowledge and leadership skills which are so closely aligned with the work of Avenues Group – and, above all, his communication skills, which he says he often likes to combine with a touch of humour.”