Third Sector Awards: Rising Chief Executive – Steve Smith, Havens Hospices

This award is for the chief executive who has made an outstanding contribution to their organisation, or the wider sector, during their first two years in post.

Rising Chief Executive – Steve Smith, Havens Hospices

Who is he?

Steve Smith joined Havens Hospices as director of facilities in 2015, and became chief executive in 2019.

What has he achieved?

When Smith became chief executive the hospices had become isolated from the local healthcare and business economy, and performance and morale was suffering across the organisation. During his first 90 days, Smith spent time in every corner of the organisation, from shop floors to care floors, promising to listen to ideas and empower staff to find solutions.

By focusing on an inclusive culture and investing in data and technology, Havens Hospices has weathered a huge amount of change since 2019. Smith opened up the board of the traditionally Christian charity to welcome those with the right skills and experience, of all faiths or none. Wellbeing of staff and volunteers became a priority, with the introduction of an Employee Assistance Programme and Mental Health First Aiders, and an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Review was conducted with the National Centre for Diversity.

An Organisational Development programme was introduced to involve staff, empowering change from within. Relationships have been formed with other local charities, including a homeless project to provide palliative care to rough sleepers.

Why did he win?

Smith has transformed a local hospice charity into an innovative, collaborative and diverse healthcare provider. Thanks to his decisive actions the charity cared for 40 per cent more patients within the adult hospice last year, while demand increased by 30 per cent for hospice care in the home. Now an established part of the local healthcare economy, Smith has given the staff and volunteers at Havens Hospices the confidence to diversify care and adapt to the needs of patients.

What did the judges say?

“An impressive turnaround of a long-standing culture in a short time, particularly when it is sustained under the pressure of the pandemic.”

Highly commended

  • Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, Career Ready
  • Judi Rhys, Tenovus Cancer Care


  • Georgina Carr, The Neurological Alliance
  • Pearl Cross, The Jack Hazeldine Foundation
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