ContentPage_OurExpertiseYears of experience, knowledge, and compassion

While all our all staff undertake autism awareness training, much of what we know about autism we’ve learned from spending time with our residents.

From them we’ve gained an understanding — not yet complete — of what can cause autistic adults stress and anxiety. We’ve also learned how we can help to bring calmness into their lives.

We’ve learned how to manage and encourage social interaction. We’ve developed unique ways of communicating. And we’ve introduced new activities and learning opportunities. Our residents are more engaged in their own lives and in the broader community than was ever thought possible.

Our senior management team and board of trustees bring years of experience in the field as researchers, doctors, and support workers with consistent, direct understanding of autism and the many ways it manifests itself.

The experts who work at Stroud Court.


Chris Atkins, chief executive director

As our chief executive officer, Chris takes the lead in ensuring that Stroud Court’s values, principles and aims are upheld and promoted across all the services and activities we offer our autistic adult residents.

Chris also has overall responsibility for everything that takes place at Stroud Court, from staff recruitment and training through to strategic planning and the financial management of all assets and resources. He reports to the Chair of the Board of Trustees and is supported in his work by the senior management team.

Chris is a recognised expert in autism and also works as a visiting lecturer and part-time tutor for the Department of Inclusion and Special Needs at the University of Birmingham. He is the lead representative for learning disabilities with the Gloucestershire Care Providers Association and a director with At-Autism, an international network of autism experts.

Before joining Stroud Court,  Chris spent several years working with the National Autistic Society in a variety of positions including Group Manager, Adult Services Manager and, most recently, Head of Projects and Developments. He has also worked overseas helping to develop autism services and and has acted as an independent autism advisor for a range of independent and statutory authorities.


Sharon Barnard, registered care home manager

Registered care home manager Sharon is responsible for the overall quality of care services at Stroud Court.

Using her extensive understanding of autism, Sharon ensures that Stroud Court strives to make every day better for each of our residents by implementing a truly person-centred approach and by careful management of care staff.

Her role carries serious legal responsibilities as well as considerable expectations that are monitored and enforced by our regulators, the Care Quality Commission. As such, she is accountable to our executive director and Board of Trustees.

In addition to ensuring that our residents benefit from high quality care and support, Sharon is very involved in staff training and is a certified Positive Behaviour Management trainer.

Sharon joined us in 1998 as a support worker. Over the years, she took on increasingly senior roles including team leader and care manager.  She became Stroud Court’s registered manager in 2002.


Ann Stratford, personal assistant to the chief executive director

As our chief executive officer’s personal assistant, Ann’s will be the first voice you hear if you contact Stroud Court. Her role involves ensuring meetings are arranged and communication between everyone runs smoothly.

Ann joined Stroud Court in 2004, bringing with her extensive experience in the care sector. She spent some years working at a residential home for people with learning difficulties and extremely challenging behaviours run by Gloucestershire County Council, assisting the home leader and associated team members, including the psychologist and psychiatrist.

Ann has also worked at schools in the area, a doctors’ surgery, and an estate agents, all of which have helped her hone her extensive people skills.


Adam Preston, team leader

Adam has been a team leader at Stroud Court since 2010. As a team leader, he oversees the daily support and activities of six autistic adult residents.

He’s also responsible for the support workers and specialist staff who look after the residents in his unit. He finds his role very interesting and rewarding, and loves the challenges it brings.

Adam came to work at Stroud Court in 2000 as a support worker. Since joining us he has gained a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 in care, a NVQ Level 3 in management and a certificate in team leading.


Becky Deacon, support worker

As a support worker at Stroud Court, Becky works one-on-one with our autistic adult residents, helping them live their lives the way they want to, supporting their choices and providing them with access to as many opportunities as possible. She gets a huge amount of personal satisfaction from seeing the residents accomplish tasks that most people take for granted.

Becky joined Stroud Court at the end of 2014, realising a longstanding ambition to be a carer. From school, where she took health and social care at GCSE level, she went to college and completed a Business and Technician Education Council (BTEC) Level 3 extended diploma in health and social care.