Third Sector Awards: Charity Chief Executive – Emma Ratzer, MBE Access Community Trust

Awarded to the chief executive who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her organisation, or the wider sector over the past year.

Who is she?

Emma Ratzer joined social inclusion charity Access Community Trust in 2008 as operations manager, and moved on to become director of services before being appointed chief executive in 2012.

What has she done for the charity?

Under Ratzer’s lead, the charity has increased its annual turnover considerably, from under £2 million to nearing £4 million.

From providing five homeless projects in Lowestoft in 2012, the Trust now operates 11 housing-related support projects, mental health and wellbeing services, employment mentoring, outdoor education, apprenticeship support, volunteering, day centre provision, social prescribing resources and dedicated youth services programmes in some of the areas most deprived locations.

The charity has vastly expanded its catchment area to support communities throughout Suffolk and Norfolk. In 2014 Ratzer accredited the Trust as a Real Living Wage employer, to ensure fair pay for all employees, and staff are encouraged and inspired to acquire new skills.

What else has she achieved? 

Understanding the pressures of reduced funding, after years of austerity policies and budget cuts, Ratzer has explored alternative revenue streams. In 2016, the charity created Lowestoft’s first social enterprise café and now operates five community cafes throughout the region, delivering much-needed employment and training opportunities as well as funds.

What did the judges say? “A visionary leader who has brought the charity through challenging times as a focused team.”

Highly commended

Juliet Bouverie, Stroke Association


Paul Bott, SJOG

Sarah Elizabeth Brook, The Sparkle Foundation

Gemma Peters, Blood Cancer UK

Jane Gurney, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust

Mark Milton, Ambient Support

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