About Jonathan


Jonathan Wade

Smiling Cat Ventures

(Philanthropic, campaigning, working improving society, the quality of care people receive, increasing inclusion & accessibility for people living with the effects of a disability or long term condition) Option for Solutions Page header

Jonathan had terrible problems with his back as a young child but overcame these issues and resulting operations to become a qualified Psychiatric Nurse, specialising in secure environments. This was never going to be enough for Jonathan and his ambition led him to attaining the highest level of Prison Governor, Operations Director of Specialist Category A Adolescent ‘Lifers’ Unit, and eventually Director of Youth Custody, Detention and Offending Rehabilitation for a private custodial company. Jonathan was respected for being an expert in custodial care & rehabilitation of Young Offenders, as well as secure environment healthcare & mental health care.

To relax there was nothing Jonathan liked more than going for long walks with his family and it was during one such walk that Jonathan realised his right leg was getting numb. A year later, with this problem increasing, he was diagnosed with a progressive degenerative type of stenosis of the spinal cord and column. As the condition progressed Jonathan looked around for specialist neurological community support services, as his need for care & support were increasing exponentially. Jonathan believed he would have better care from people/organisations that specialised in neurological conditions (a group term that includes Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, strokes, hypoxia, brain injury, spinal injury, etc). At this time Jonathan had also become a Director of a charity specialising in brain injury rehabilitation but was appalled also to find that many people with neurological & brain injury conditions could and did end up being cared for nursing homes that specialised in elderly care. Some of these people were as young as early twenties; Jonathan was appalled by this but equally upset to find that other people with neurological conditions were being cared for by Learning Disability specialists.

Always being a problem solver & with an eye for business opportunities, Jonathan decided to tackle these lack of specific services head on. So he decided to create the specialist services people needed, services with the specialist knowledge that formed the foundation of a person centred approach. Jonathan was at the forefront of the ‘In Control’ movement that later evolved into Personal Budgets, which perfectly matched his ethos to provide services the individual and their family wanted:

  • Delivered the way they wanted it delivered
  • Delivered by the staff they wanted & trusted
  • Staff they helped to recruit and train
  • Delivered when they wanted

The clear message was that every package of care and intervention was unique to the Service User and their family, a fundamental principle that underpinned all the services/companies Jonathan was to establish. These services went on to include needs assessment, care planning, domiciliary care & support, nursing, physical rehabilitation, housing adaptations, equipment services & training, etc. Jonathan’s degenerative condition was now heavily impacting on his ability to self-care and mobilise but he & his team had created over a dozen companies & services, employing over 1,500 people across the North of England.

As recognition of his achievement Jonathan was awarded by Newcastle Council’s 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Care sector. In the same year the NECC awarded him Entrepreneur of the Year.

Unfortunately Jonathan suffered pneumonia in 2011 after which he decided to step down from running the above group of services/companies, in order to focus on more philanthropic pursuits. These pursuits have and do include:

  • Working with Local Authorities for greater inclusion of disabled people into every aspect of society
  • Reducing the barriers disabled people face on a daily basis
  • Working with Local Authorities to reduce youth offender recidivism
  • Supporting disabled students to gain the most they can from University/College
  • Working with the next generation of Entrepreneurs
  • Developing health and social care innovations
  • Improving the quality of care people receive through better training of staff
  • Working with Colleges & Universities to improve the training future ‘care’ professionals
  • Lecturing on disability issues, business, health & social care inclusion of service users
  • Working with some charities as a Trustee
  • Increasing independence through use of innovative and assistive technologies

Jonathan and his team also work as consultants with organisations & companies to:

  • Problem solve
  • Plan strategically
  • Have effective systems & controls in place
  • Deal with change management
  • Assist with growth & identification of new markets
  • Improve customer relations & service user engagement
  • Develop new management techniques & to be quality focussed
  • Mentor management/directors
  • Empower employees
  • Recruit, train and retain employees

Jonathan and his team are also very active in campaigning to:

  • Put compassion back into politics
  • Have greater inclusion & representation of disabled people in politics
  • Turn from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources
  • Support the NHS
  • Remove the stigma of mental health problems in society & the workplace
  • Reduce poverty in 21st Century Britain

Jonathan, despite his increasing needs and reducing mobility, actively looks to work with other organisations & companies in partnerships, especially when it comes to raising awareness of new, innovative technology that can increase independence and keep people in their own homes for longer. If that wasn’t enough Jonathan also finds time to write for online and hardcopy disability focussed magazines on various issues relating to disability and those areas Jonathan is passionate about. The future is uncertain for Jonathan but his organisation will continue long into the future to continue the philanthropic work he started.

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