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Team: Staff

Our team includes people with various skills, knowledge, and experience. They are passionate about the community sector in Cornwall.

Photo of Emma Rowse

Emma Rowse

Chief Executive


Emma leads a team of people who are passionate about supporting the VCSE sector in Cornwall and the IoS.  With over 20 years of experience in the VCSE, NHS and local government, Emma advocates for the sector to be treated as an equal partner in the design, delivery and funding of services.

Emma is committed to ensuring that statutory partners listen to and value our experience in working with the most vulnerable people and communities.

Emma loves yoga, sea dips, walking her three dogs and spending time in nature and volunteers in her local patient participation group.

Photo of Kate Perkin

Kate Perkin

Operations Director

St Ives

Kate Perkin is the Operations Director for Cornwall VSF and leads on innovation and process. With over fifteen years’ experience, Kate’s attention to detail ensures we are compliant and sustainable. She manages half of the team – the support functions of project coordination, admin, finance and communications.

Passionate about inspiring people to unlock their skills, Kate is an advocate of training and a lifelong learner. She’s currently studying a Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship. How does she fit it all in?

Photo of Lorna Phillips

Lorna Phillips

Administration and Partnership Officer


Lorna was born in Cornwall and spent her childhood enjoying the wonderful beaches in St. Ives. Lorna moved away to Buckinghamshire to study and remained there for a couple of decades where she built a career in customer service and administrative support, developing a passion for systems, process improvements and delivering a high quality service.

The call of home had been beckoning for many years when Lorna returned to Cornwall in 2020. Since then, she has been working in the not-for-profit and VCSE sector. In her role, Lorna hopes to make a helpful contribution towards delivering support to our members. Part of her role as Admin and Partnership Officer is coordinating funded training for people working in the VCSE sector.

In her spare time, she enjoys Hawaiian hula and belly dancing, listening to music, and expanding her vinyl record collection.

Photo of Georgie Higgs

Georgie Higgs

Administration and Finance Officer


Georgie was born and bred in Cornwall and has spent all her working life with and for local firms.

After graduating in 1997 from Nottingham Trent University with a law degree, she then went on to study for a postgraduate certificate in Social Security Law at the University of Leicester and in 2007 achieved a Master in Laws.

After a decade spent as a tribunals advocate for disabled and disenfranchised people she was elected as district councillor for Kerrier District Council. Georgie spent nine years as a non-executive director for Coastline Housing Ltd and sixteen years ago, she was appointed as Justice of the Peace sitting on the Cornwall Bench.

When not working, she can be found studying local history, researching her family and walking on the beach near her home.

Photo of Tim Burns

Tim Burns

Engagement Officer, Refugees and Asylum Seekers


From his initial work teaching as a volunteer in Africa over fifty years ago Tim has always had a passion to work with those with fewer opportunities.

Following a career in the commercial sector Tim worked in the NHS as a commissioner, developing partnerships with the voluntary and community sectors.

Tim chaired the South West Migrant Health Network which is an inclusive, multi-agency collaborative with Local Authority, Health, Public Health, academics, voluntary sector and those with lived experience.  Sharing his home with a refugee family from Ukraine has highlighted the needs of those fleeing conflict and persecution.

Tim is excited to be working with Cornwall VSF to consolidate all those to working to support refugees and asylum seekers across the county whether from Health, Local Authority or voluntary sectors, large or small.

Photo of Gemma Collins

Gemma Collins

Engagement Team Assistant


Gemma was born and raised in Cornwall and is proud to call this beautiful county home.

Gemma studied within the county and attended her local college to gain further qualifications within administration.

Her administrational knowledge and understanding spans over 15 years, working with local and private businesses, as well as her work within the charity sector with, Cornwall Air Ambulance, where she was able to develop and gain new skills in fundraising, public speaking, community engagement and events plus, grow her passion and understanding for the charity and voluntary sector.

In her spare time Gemma loves walks, cycling, and spending time with family and friends. Her passion for gardening means Gemma will be at a local garden centre, buying plants for the garden where she hopes to create a home for wildlife and pollinators. Gemma also enjoys singing and is a member of a local lady’s choir.

Photo of Kirstie Edwards

Kirstie Edwards

Engagement Officer


Kirstie has about twenty years of voluntary sector experience, including setting up a Community Interest Company, leading Plastic Free Falmouth and working as a Research Fellow for Exeter University. She is a town councillor for Falmouth and the Mayor of Falmouth.

Having trained as a teacher, and as mother of six, Kirstie is an advocate for equity of access for all and challenges discrimination with empathy. She has written about invisible illness for The Mighty and has  lived experience with neurodivergence, mental health, sexual abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.

A keen paddle boarder, sea swimmer and beachcomber, if there are ever any moments when Kirstie is not working, she is by the sea.

Photo of Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips

Engagement Officer

North Cornwall/Devon borders

Sarah supports our thematic alliances in mental health, community safety and wider Integrated Care Area in health and wellbeing. She helps to promote the VCSE sector and strengthen connections with local authority and NHS colleagues to identify opportunities for co-design of services and create conditions for improved health and wellbeing.

Sarah’s ambition for the future is for the public sector and VCSE sectors to work together to further enable prevention of ill health and for us to stop seeing less crisis need.

Sarah loves walking on Dartmoor, enjoying the north Cornwall coast and growing her own vegetables. A fact Sarah loves is that Launceston has the oldest (1350) surviving Cornish medieval bridge which she gets to drive over often.

Photo of Justin Ricks

Justin Ricks

Engagement Officer

St Dennis

Justin has had the privilege of having worked for a range of amazing organisations within the VCSE sector for the past 20 years. This has provided him with experience of working in a range of roles from business development to being a Trustee for a registered charity for eight years.

Justin was inspired by the voluntary sector’s contribution during Cornwall’s COVID-19 response and recovery. He had the privilege of observing this first hand by being part of the sector’s collaborative approach to finding solutions for local communities. This reinforced his view that collaboration and co-design of services will benefit not only sector organisations but most importantly the communities that we all serve.

Justin lives in the east of the county and has a passion for being outdoors – walking, mountain biking and photography. However, Justin’s main love developed when living in Cornwall in kayaking and being either on or in the sea.

Photo of Olivia Byass-Smithies

Olivia Byass-Smithies

Engagement Officer


Olivia is an Engagement Officer for Children, Young People and Families. She is really motivated by the compassionate and community-orientated work that happens in the VCSE sector and strives to support the sector. In previous roles she has loved working directly with young people, children, and their families and feels strongly about the need for more work like this.

She has worked and volunteered in a variety of different settings from criminal justice NGOs to youthwork charities to community organisations and most recently supporting young people who arrive in the UK alone seeking refuge. She hopes to bring all the lessons she has learnt from these experiences to her role as Engagement Officer as well as an openness to listening to the experiences, perspectives, and amazing expertise of those working in the sector.

Outside of work she is currently learning how to skipper Cornish luggers in and around Mounts Bay and hopefully beyond next summer with the Cornish Maritime Trust. On stormy days she likes to cozy up and read a book or head up to the Tinners Arms folk night.

Photo of Ellen Rudge

Ellen Rudge

Communications, Marketing and PR Officer


Ellen forms half of the communications team at Cornwall VSF. With more than 10 years of communications and marketing experience in a higher education and charity setting, she loves consistency and can spot a typo from a mile away.

Having recently led on Cornwall VSF’s new website and refreshed brand, Ellen loves being creative and enjoys showcasing the work of the community sector through video case studies – particularly highlighting smaller grassroots charities.

In her spare time, Ellen loves being by the ocean in her campervan where you can find her surfing, wild dipping, collecting shells or gently encouraging her dog Ruby to paddleboard with her. She also volunteers with the Wave Project and is a Trustee for West Cornwall Women’s Aid.

Photo of Laura Barnes

Laura Barnes

Communications, Marketing and PR Officer


Laura is a passionate advocate for people with lived experience. Having grown up in Cornwall undiagnosed autistic and ADHD, she ensures no-one feels excluded for their differences in learning and communication styles.

Working for over ten years in marketing, Laura is data-driven and has a keen eye on analytics and leads on SEO. She volunteers for Georgia’s Voice – a suicide prevention charity for young women, and enjoys seeing people recognise the positive contribution they make.

Out of work time, Laura spends a lot of time beachcombing, open-water swimming and giving time to people in community groups.

Photo of Gemma Finnegan

Gemma Finnegan

Intelligence, Impact & Evaluation Lead


Gemma is the Intelligence, Impact & Evaluation Lead for Cornwall VSF supporting VCSE organisations to understand how they demonstrate their impact. Gemma is seconded three days a week from Cornwall Rural Community Charity and has worked in the VCSE sector for 20 years. As a Social Value practitioner Gemma is passionate to enable the sector to increase awareness and understanding of the impact their work has on the people and places of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

An all round action woman Gemma loves weightlifting, CrossFit, hiking, sea swimming and yoga.

Photo of Naomi Osmond

Naomi Osmond

Development Coordinator – Routes to Community Success Project


Naomi started her career as a volunteer youth worker in 2002, and likes to think of her experience as more of a journey than a career as she has learnt and grown so much along the way. Over the years Naomi has worked in a large variety of youth work settings at varying levels. She has spent time working in both the voluntary and statutory sector here in Cornwall and ‘up country’, and she is still just as passionate about youth work and creating opportunities for young people now as she ever was.

Naomi was born in Porthleven and grew up in the local area. She moved away to Kent for a few years which gave her a new appreciation for her home here in Cornwall. Naomi likes to spend time in nature and get out in her camper as much as possible.

Photo of Sarah Turnbull

Sarah Turnbull

Programme Coordinator


Sarah is the Programme Coordinator for the People in Mind service offering mental health support to people living in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Having lived experience of supporting family members who’ve struggled with their mental health over many years, Sarah is passionate about ensuring that access to mental health support is available as quickly and impactfully as possible.

Originally from Coventry, Sarah has lived here for 13 years.  She loves the sea and the calming affect it has on her, and therefore, walks her dog on Gylly beach as much as possible.