Advisory Board

We are incredibly lucky to be supported by an Advisory Board of 10 industry experts who provide independent advice to the organisation.

Steve Dixon


Steve Dixon is an Education Consultant, Safeguarding Expert, previous Headteacher within Knowsley Council and current Collaborative Development Manager for the Kirkby Collaborative of Schools. He has acted as the main driver and key provider for school improvements and opportunities within Kirkby during the past 8 years and has developed a complex and continually developing needs led projects, including an extensive range of commissioned services and training. He has further led the development of the Kirkby Power of Reaching project entailing a high equality children’s literature and proven creative teaching approaches to engage children in literacy development.

Louies Hesketh


Louise Hesketh is an arts and culture professional with over 18 years’ experience of working with contemporary art, touring exhibitions and arts development.
Louise is currently a Partnership & Place Manager at Curious Minds, the NW Bridge organisation and a company dedicated to improving the lives of children and young people through great art and culture. She’s one of a small team developing Local Cultural Education Partnerships across the region.
Following two years working in the United States Louise returned to the UK where she worked as the arts development officer for Halton Borough Council, based at the Brindley Arts Centre, where she curated the exhibition programme, managed large-scale heritage and arts education projects and worked closely with artists to develop the Hazlehurst Studios in Runcorn.
Louise was of Chair of Touring Exhibitions Group between 2011 and 2017 and delivers training and mentoring to museum and gallery professionals as part of TEG’s professional development programme.

Sandra Richardson


Sandra Richardson is the previous CEO of Knowsley Youth Mutual and a Trustee for the Center of Youth Impact. Her working life has entailed building communities and looking after other people, whether it be through community projects or campaigns. She was a social campaigner from 14 years of age and has 40 years-experience of working in and around collective communities to improve people’s lives. She has always worked around Merseyside and was the head of a council in house youth service. She has experience of developing policies and strategies at a senior level since austerity began in 2010.  She holds a professional Youth and Community Work Qualification and an MSC in Management and further has a wide range of experience in relation to service redesign, commissioning, business development and income generation.

Sandra believes that supporting and empowering the voices of young people is paramount to achieving transnational change. Working in a variety of roles in both Local Government and the Voluntary Sector, Sandra holds a wealth of experience across the Youth Work Sector. She is a passionate leader, artist and poet who enjoys working with individuals and organisations to develop their vision and skills to make a difference.

David Herring


David Herring is a Lecturer in American Literature and the Co-Director of the Centre for New and international Writing at the University of Liverpool. His research currently focuses primarily on 20th and 21st century American literature, with a particular focus on form and structure in the contemporary American novel and the legacies of postmodernism. He also has research interests in the relationship between literature and cinema, literature and popular music, and the relationship between comics/graphic novels and mental health. He has recently started work on a long-term research project about the figure of the ghost in contemporary American literature. He is the research/public engagement and impact Lead on Illustrating Futures, a collaboration with Comics Youth CIC and Tate Liverpool, which addresses the use of comics and graphic novels in the treatment of mental health issues in children and young people.

Patrick Goodison


Patrick Goodison is Public Health and Third Sector expert with a wide ranging skill-set including funding applications and advice, third sector development, Charity Law, governance, facilitating and training, urban/community regeneration specialist, project and programme management, effective partnership development, contract management, community asset mapping, project developing, training, mentoring, health and well-being in addition to mental resilience. He has over 28 years of experience varying roles including Executive Officer at the Charity Commission, Regional Officer for the Big Lottery Fund, External Funding Manager for St Helens Council, Community Manager for Knowsley Council and Public Mental Health and Inequalities Lead Officer. He has been responsible for the coordination of the Knowsley HeadStart (Big Lottery Fund project) focused on improving the wellbeing and mental resilience of young people, aged 10-14; Programme Manager for the £25 Million Stockbridge Village Regeneration Programme in addition to securing almost £10 million of additional investment  into areas with lower than average success rates via the Big lottery Fund.

Michael Howlett


Mike Howlett has worked in the Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector for over 20 years, originally as a volunteer and then in a paid capacity. The majority of his work has revolved around volunteer recruitment and management, working for Sefton Council for Voluntary Service, an infrastructure organization providing support for the Voluntary Sector in Sefton. Although he has primarily worked in Sefton for the last 11 years, he has regularly networked across Greater Merseyside and beyond, working closely with the Volunteer Centre Network across the North West. He has been an avid reader of comics for almost 40 years and believes that comics and zines can really help to develop skills, creativity and a sense of identity. He further has experience of being on a management committee, including as Chair.

Michael Safranek


Michael Safranek is a Psychological Well-being Practitioner for Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust. He has 19 years direct delivery experience working in a range of mental health related roles including Rehabilitation Assistant in a brain injury center, a Psycho-social aide and an Assistant Psychologist. He is trained in the use of core competencies and delivers NICE approved evidenced-based psychological interventions including; Cognitive Restructuring, Behavioural Activation, Graded Exposure, Worry Time, Problem Solving, Exposure and Response Prevention, Psycho-education and Sleep Hygiene. He has an ardent passion for comics and graphic novels and has incorporated these two aspects to develop ‘Therapy Comics’ which combined evidenced-based CBT materials for people who may have difficulty engaging with typical English language text-based materials. He shares Comics Youth’s vision in that comics are uniquely placed to provide engaging and thought-provoking narratives while carrying less of a cognitive load and being more accessible and easier to engage with than text. He has adapted CBT interventions in a Comic Book format. He is currently adapting resources for Comics on Behavioural Activation for depression.

Rebecca Freeman


Rebecca Freeman is a Policy and Research Officer for Knowsley Council. Part of her role is to undertake horizon scanning research to keep up to date with national policy changes and inform services how they may be affected by any changes. She completes briefing notes for elected members and portfolio holders regarding changes in the policy landscape.  This includes, updating on the commitment to renewing the 1983 Mental Health Act, the published independent review report and the Children and Young People’s Green Paper. Rebecca is further leading on the development of the population, digital inclusions and social value sections of the Councils 10-year strategy for the Borough.

 She has gained a significant understanding of the impact and scope of mental health throughout her personal and professional life. In a professional capacity she has worked with looked after children in residential care homes and is trained to identify trigger behaviours in young people, gained greater understanding of mental health issues as a Volunteer Restorative Justice panel member and honed her skills in researching mental health issues in order to guide mental health commissioning.

Dr. Mel Gibson


Mel Gibson specializes in teaching and research relating to children and young people, literature and media and has a vibrant interest in visual literacies. She is a National Teaching Fellow and is recognized nationally as an expert in Teaching and Learning in relation to memory and how we build our childhood reading into our autobiographies. She is a part of a group of academics who established Comic Studies in the UK. Her work on comics and memory is considered internationally significant.  She has, additionally, been involved in initiating or supporting the development of a number of initiatives around comics, including the Comics Laureate Award, which involves a comic creator supporting literacy development at a national level. Mel was instrumental in the development of Comics Youth CIC and has supported the development of our literacy and well-being programmes.

Nikki Anderson


Nikki Anderson is Creative Marketing Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the Civic and Social organization industry and is skilled in e-learning, User Experience, User Interface Design, and Adobe Creative Suite. She is extremely passionate about art-for-all and the empowerment of young people by facilitating creative expression. She is the Head of Marketing and Communications at the Hive Youth Zone, works as part of the senior management team and sits as a member of the Board. Her previous experience has been in creative management, leading teams and projects from concept to finished product, including the creation of storyboards, character design, live action filming, editing and sound recording. She is passionate about illustration and is adept at publishing and editorial processes.