Touchstone’s Operations Director, Arfan Hanif, has been appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer following the departure of Alison Lowe.

Arfan originally came to Touchstone on a temporary contract as a Community Development Worker in late 2012. He quickly demonstrated his leadership abilities and was recruited to the Senior Management Team just 9 months later.

Arfan has over 25 years of senior leadership experience in the Public and Voluntary Sectors. During his career, Arfan has worked in several senior roles in Yorkshire, the Midlands, the North East and London which entailed leading several organisational and service wide portfolios. Arfan has led on and worked in several multi-agency and partnership forums in different parts of the country that support better outcomes for service users. Arfan is an advocate of designing and delivering services in collaboration with and led by service users.

Arfan Hanif commented

I am honoured and privileged to be appointed CEO of Touchstone – an organisation whose values are so aligned to my own. I am especially humbled considering my personal journey of traveling through this country’s institutionalised mental health pathways where my freedom and dignity were taken away from me.  I am not alone and much too often many mental health service users especially those from disadvantaged communities are institutionalised, stigmatised and categorised as a diagnosis which further compounds health inequality outcomes. I remain essentially a service user who has been given a huge opportunity and responsibility to proudly lead a thriving diverse organisation with its roots embedded in the communities we are proud to serve. 

Alison Lowe is leaving Touchstone in such a fantastic position and it is quite rightly regarded as one of the best employers to work for in the country and an organisation delivering a diverse range of best-in-class services to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Yorkshire. Alison’s inspired leadership and her genuine commitment to advocate on behalf of the unheard, ignored and disadvantaged will leave a timeless legacy.  I am proud to continue this journey and my vision is for all people and communities wherever Touchstone operates to receive accessible and inclusive services that meets their needs and is determined and led by their wishes and aspirations. I look forward to working with colleagues across the health and care system in Yorkshire to make positive and lasting changes led and inspired by our communities.”

Alison Lowe, Chief Executive Officer at Touchstone, who’s last working day will be 6th August 2021 reflected

I am genuinely delighted at the appointment of Arfan Hanif to the role of Touchstone Chief Executive Officer. 

I have worked closely with Arfan for nearly 10 years and I know his values, passion for justice and personal lived experience will be invaluable assets as Touchstone goes into its next phase.

The fact that Arfan began his journey with Touchstone as a service user in 2012 to now becoming the CEO also fills me with love and pride. Arfan is proof positive of Touchstone’s inclusion and service user leadership in practice.

Service Users are at the heart of all we do and Arfan Hanif will live that value, alongside all Touchstone colleagues, for a very long time to come.”

Jeremy Horsell, Chair of the Trustees at Touchstone added

Following a robust and rigorous selection process, Arfan emerged as the standout candidate amongst a number of excellent applicants for the post.

Arfan’s personal journey to this point in his career and his outstanding contribution as Operations Director – Quality & Performance over many years will, we feel sure, be an excellent foundation for building on Alison’s outstanding legacy. His passion and commitment to the vision and values of the organisation run deep.

Touchstone enjoys quality leadership throughout the charity – staff, senior management team, volunteers and service users alike. We all join in wishing Arfan well in his new and challenging role and assure him of our full and wholehearted support as we build on our work of  ‘inspiring communities, transforming lives.” 

Arfan will assume the CEO role on Yorkshire day 1st August 2021 and the handover by Alison will be commencing immediately.