Meet The Management Team

We are only as good as our people and people are very important to us that’s why we recruit and retain high quality individuals who have the same values and commitment towards the learners as we do.  We look to develop all of our staff so that progression happens from within the company wherever possible. This has helped us build a team of extremely loyal and dedicated team of tutors, assistants and administrators.

Care First’s Directors

Chris Winter

Chris Winter CEO

Having spent many years delivering ‘hands on’ training and education in Forensics and Behavioural Studies for Children and Adults with specific Challenging Behaviour Chris was given the opportunity to use all of his skills and take the lead role setting up a ‘Specialist Service’ at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Great Barr.  He was responsible for the specialist learning of Adults and Children with challenging behaviour and learning difficulties/learning disabilities.

Within this role he worked and trained in some of the countries secure hospitals working with adults with extreme behaviours giving him vast practical, and hands on experience of learning around Challenging Behaviour.

With this knowledge Chris went on to setup a ‘Specialist Service’ within a Sutton Coldfield Special School working with children with Severe Challenging Behaviour, and parents whose children have Autism, and extreme behaviour difficulties.  During this period he also worked with Sutton Coldfield Child Abuse Team and with similar teams in and around the Sutton Coldfield area.
All of the above experience enabled him to take a side step into Birmingham Social Services and the area of Learning Difficulties/Disabilities’, Complex needs, and the world of Community Education.  This role took him into the work place, working with Adults with Disabilities’, and working with Employers around opportunities for Work Experience & Paid work.  During this time Chris also worked alongside his wife, Veronica, running their own Care Home for Adults with ‘Difficult Behaviour’, which they ran for 7 years.
This phenomenal practical knowledge and the desire to do better, linked with the belief that so much more could be done to help adults with learning difficulties, learning disabilities and challenging behaviour led Chris to the fledgling idea that became Care First.

It came about after a chance meeting; Chris went to have a ‘goodbye coffee and chat’ with a client who lived in a Care Home [owned by Neil Thorogood].  Chris went to explain that he was moving on because he wanted to setup a ‘Never been done before’ Adult Service based in a college for adults who have Behaviour Difficulties and who ‘Learn Differently’.
This chance meeting with Neil, a qualified accountant and a successful discussion with North Birmingham College [now James Watt campus] resulted in Care First Ltd coming to life.  Chris is responsible for all strategic and operational matters, including business development, human resources, curriculum and health and safety.  . However his vision is much greater. His mission is for Care First Ltd to do much more to improve the quality of life for people through learning and personal development.

Neil Thorogood

Neil Thorogood (Finance and Business Development Director) FCA – Fellow Chartered Accountant

Neil joined the training sector in 1991 giving him 25 years of very valuable knowledge; he worked initially with the unemployed. He was involved in the planning and set up of Care First having met Chris and Veronica in 1995 because of his and their involvement in residential care for adults with learning disabilities.  His drive, to this day, is to make a difference to disadvantaged people’s lives and build a sustainable organisation that helps, nurtures and develops.

He is determined to provide quality education that meets individual’s needs, however severe their problems may be. He is a trustee of a Birmingham bereavement charity helping families overcome the loss of their children and chairman of a local church community centre. He also acts as a business consultant to a number of West Midland companies.

Veronica Winter

Veronica Winter (Director of Governance and Ethics)

Veronica is responsible for learning resources, purchasing and ethics. Her other responsibilities include human resource management, quality audit of the provision and overseeing learner enrolments and registers. As director of Care First since incorporation, she has been central to the company’s development and diversification.



Key Administration and Business Support Staff

Debbie Tipper

Debbie Tipper (P.A to Directors

Debbie’s early career was based in the NHS where she gained a BTEC Diploma and worked for ten years in Haematology.  Her decision to change career direction led to Debbie retraining and gaining a variety of qualifications in IT and Business.

Debbie has worked for Care First Ltd for 16 years as the Directors’ Personal Assistant.  She has a wide variety of secretarial and administrative duties both for the Directors and for the company in general.  This includes being a friendly, helpful, first point of contact for staff and external agencies, responding to enquiries and having specific responsibilities in HR, finance and recruitment. Email address:




Heidi Benton

Heidi Benton – Head of Learning and Development

BA(Hons) Special Needs and Inclusion Studies
University Certificate in Education
Level 5 Leadership and Management Skills

I believe we live in a disabling society and I am proud to be a part of a provision that specialises in teaching people who learn differently. I feel we are working in the right direction to an enabling society presenting more positive attitudes towards people that have a learning difficulty/disability or who learn differently.

As part of the Senior Management Team I am responsible for all of the learning and development within Care First Ltd – Education Partnership Contract with Birmingham Metropolitan College and Care First Management Services – Skills Tank.

My role within the Education Partnership Contract with BMETC involves tendering for contracts and liaising with the College Quality Team and associated Directors to set up all of the training and delivery of courses within Care First. I am responsible for student registration, enrolment, tracking the student’s progress, internal verification of portfolios, tutors performance monitoring and student achievements/certification.

Furthermore I am responsible for all planning and preparation of OFSTED and External Quality Assurance visits from both the college and awarding bodies, I conduct independent and duel observations on teaching staff, plan and prepare award evenings for achievement, attend subcontractor meetings and ensure all internal quality assurance is up to date and meets policy and practice of the college and awarding bodies.

I have recently assisted in Care First becoming its own registered City and Guilds Centre to deliver courses and I am currently registered as Head of the Centre.

Rob Lowell – Marketing

Rob Lowell – Marketing

Rob Lowell

Rob looks after all aspects of marketing, communications and promotion for Care First. He works closely with the directors and support staff as well as the tutors and students to produce the materials required – creating awareness of what’s possible when students and staff combine to achieve wonderful results.



Our tutors and classroom assistants

All of our classroom assistants and tutors are fully CRB checked and have references taken up in order to ensure that they are fit to work with our learners.  Many of our tutors and classroom assistants have been with us for over 12 years.  Wherever possible we try to create job opportunities that fit in with family life.  Our teaching staff have a wide variety of skills, qualifications and experience and many have particular specialisms in vocational areas such as horticulture, woodwork, bike maintenance etc.  All are very friendly and have a desire to help, nurture and develop the students they work with.