Support Services - Meet the Team

Support Services - Meet the Team

Julie Redfern

Julie Redfern
Director - Support Services

Telephone: 01670 736787 or 01670 733966

I have worked with adults and children with learning and physical disabilities since 1979 when I worked as a volunteer at Northgate Hospital whilst at school.

I joined Azure as a volunteer in April 1993 attracted by the Charity’s ethos, the fact that Azure is client focused and determined to ensure that all clients we support have the same lifestyle choices as everyone else and experience all that life has to offer. This, more than anything else, was and remains most important to me.

I love coming to work, encouraging and supporting clients and colleagues to try new things and it was and remains a joy watching them succeed. In 1994, I was offered a post as a Support Worker’s Assistant where I worked on Keele Drive within the Supported Housing team for four years. Working as a Key Worker, I loved the challenges the role gave me but took real satisfaction from knowing our support was making a real difference to our clients’ quality of life. I regularly supported clients on holidays and wanted them to experience all that life has to offer, and boy did they.

The roles I have undertaken since joining the Charity have given me an unrivalled opportunity to work with and understand how to best support adults with learning disabilities. In 1998 I moved into Azure’s Community Access and Enabling department, this department is community based and supports clients across Northumberland, Newcastle and South Tyneside.  I was promoted to Team Leader in 2001 where my love of working with adults and children with disabilities led me to become a Training Assessor and External Verifier for City and Guilds.  Seeing anyone, whether they are a client or colleague achieve a goal, a task, or anything which is important to them is the best feeling in the world and in 2007 I was awarded a national training award.

In 2006 I was promoted to Supported Housing Manager with responsibility for the Cramlington services and the Community Access Department. I worked closely with clients, families, Care Managers, Community Nurses and Commissioners to ensure that our services, not only meet but, exceeded expectations. I became a Registered Manager with Care Quality Commission (CQC) for Keele Drive and have managed our service in Cramlington thereafter.

In 2012 I became a Senior Manager responsible for Support Services in North, South and East of Northumberland & Community Access in all areas of Northumberland, Newcastle & North Tyneside.

In 2018 I was delighted to accept the position of “Support Services Director” at Azure with direct responsibility for all services and staff across Northumberland, Newcastle, Tynedale. I still remain registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) however I am now the nominated individual for all services rather than the Registered Manager for Keele Drive.

I’ve never forgotten why I wanted to work in care – it is my passion; I like nothing better than spending time with clients, having a coffee, a chat, a dance at our monthly ‘Boogie Nights’ event in Cramlington (and nothing to do with the film of the same name, I should add!!!).

Our mission statement here at Azure is to improve the lives of people who are disabled or disadvantaged.  As a single mum working at Azure and seeing how the Charity accepted me and encouraged me to pursue my goals in life, I firmly believe our mission statement extends to us all - clients and colleagues alike.

I have had and continue to have the opportunity to work with clients and their families, colleagues and Commissioners to ensure that our clients receive the best support on offer and satisfy myself that we go ‘over and above’.

As a care professional, as anyone who works in care knows, it’s a job that’s not without its challenges but if I was to look back and ask would I change anything, my answer would still be the same – no, not a thing!

Every day is a new day, new challenges and an opportunity for us all to achieve new things.



Karen Clewlow

Karen Clewlow
Associate Director - Support Services
Northumberland - Newcastle - Tynedale

Telephone: 01670 736787 or 01670 733966

I started my career in retail management and business administration before I decided upon a change of direction to pursue a career in health and social care, joining Azure in 2001 as a Support Worker.   

Azure gave me the opportunity to work directly with a diverse group of people encountering both challenging and rewarding experiences. I especially appreciate working in partnership with individuals and families and being a part of a support network which promotes independence and enables people to have happy, fulfilling and enjoyable lives.

Azure recognises and values their employees and the Charity has supported my personal and professional development. Having completed my NVQ in Promoting Independence I was promoted to Team Leader in 2004 and went on to achieve my A1 Award in Work Based Assessing in 2005.   

I have continued to develop my management skills working as a team leader in Domiciliary and Community Access services across Northumberland, Newcastle and Tyndale Services.  After a period of deputising for these services I was promoted to the role of Manager and subsequently Associate Director – Support Services and have since gone on to become Registered Manager with Care Quality Commission (CQC) for Keele Drive services.

I am committed to achieving fair and just outcomes for clients and to ensure the doors of opportunity are open to all.   

Azure works closely with individuals, families, Commissioners and Inspectors in delivering a high standard of service and care and I am proud to be a part of the Azure team.



Ruth Pope

Ruth Pope
Associate Director - Support Services

Telephone: 0191 4191867


Ever since I was little and my Dad taught me the alphabet in sign language I had a dream of being able to communicate by sign language.  After working as a Nanny for 10 years, I took the opportunity to work with children with learning disabilities, I saw a position in a local school for the deaf and I was able to pursue my dream of learning British Sign Language.  This ignited a passion in me that I still hold today of supporting and communicating with people so that they are able to live a full and rewarding life.  

Over the next 11 years of my career I gained experience working as a Residential Officer in several settings supporting adults with learning disabilities including short breaks, supported living and challenging behaviour, gaining my Level 2 British Sign Language certificate.

In 2012 I was giving the opportunity to work for Azure as a Team Leader in its Washington Service.  Over the next four years, I was promoted to the post of Deputy Manager where I worked closely with the management team gaining experience in a residential setting. 

In 2017, I gained my Access to HE Diploma in Health & Social Care. 

Over the last seven years at Azure I have enjoyed supporting clients to fulfil their dreams and aspirations, I enjoy spending time with the clients, learning about their goals in life and helping them to achieve them. There is nothing better than seeing the look of delight on a client’s and staff member’s face when they have achieved a goal whether it be making a simple meal to going on holiday abroad.

Whenever I get the opportunity I like to participate in activities with the clients, these range from arts & crafts, quizzes and holidays. At Washington, we all like nothing more than an opportunity to have a party where we can all get together and have a dance and sing along.

In 2018 I was excited to accept the position of Associate Director – Support Services and become the Registered Manager with Care Quality Commission (CQC) for Washington services. 



Mrs Sandra Pringle
Associate Director
(Tynedale & Newcastle services)

Telephone: 0191 4661664

Sandra has 22 years’ experience of supporting both children and adults with a learning disabilities from the age of 13 plus. Sandra became a Team leader in the Community Access Department in 2004 where she managing a large staff team allowing her to build an extensive knowledge of the department prior to being appointed to the Associate Director of Newcastle and Tynedale Services in July 2019.

Sandra has an “OCR” Level 1, an NVQ in IT, NVQ Level 3 Promoting independence, NVQ level 2 Team Leading Award, Level 3 First Line management Award, and is an accredited at L3 Wheelchair safety Instructor.

Sandra has completed all mandatory training including safeguarding, Deprivation of Liberty, Mental Capacity training which allows her to competently fill her role as safeguard lead, Sandra is also the CQC “Registered manager” for Newcastle and Tynedale services based at our “Newburn” office which enables her to manage the services effectively.