New role as Chair for Keith is Bliss

Keith Soper
Oxleas Head of Compliance and soon to be Chair of Bliss, Keith Soper

Keith Soper is Head of Compliance at Oxleas and recently, outside of work, he has been appointed to the role of Chair of the UK-wide charity for premature babies, Bliss.

Bliss are a medium sized charity who employ 40 people. Their slogan is for babies born too soon, too small, too sick and there are three main strands to their work:

1. Campaigning to raise standards of care
2. Practice development (including subsidised training for nurses and small research)
3. Family support (including parent packs, website advice, counselling, bereavement support and a 24 hour helpline.

Keith told us "People's contact with Bliss is usually relatively short but it comes at a crucial time. We are often a gateway to other charities and services." 

“The trust has supported me in my work for Bliss as it is good for my personal and professional development. It is also good to know that I am making a positive contribution to a charity that does really important work. I have spent all of my working life in the NHS and working with Bliss I get to meet lots of different people which is good.”

Keith first heard about Bliss when his son Owen was born prematurely in 2004. He told us “My wife Tracy was only 25 weeks pregnant and we were on holiday in Cornwall at the time. She was rushed into Truro Hospital and had Owen within minutes of arriving. he was only one pound 14 ounces and as you can imagine was pretty sick. Owen stayed in Truro for three months before transferring to Queen Mary's Hospital, where he stayed for a further six weeks until we were finally able to take him to our home in Barnehurst." 

Owen is now seven and he has a four year old sister, Isobel. He was one of 80,000 babies born each year that go into intensive care. "Most people are shocked to hear that that happens to one in nine babies" said Keith. 

In 2006 Keith's brother told him he was running the marathon and suggested he should too. Keith had never run one before but contacted Bliss and secured a place through their fundraising scheme. Then he found out they were looking for trustees: "When I found out they were particularly keen on people with experience of governance and working in the NHS it seemed like a good thing to do so I applied and was appointed."    

In March 2010 Keith joined Greenwich Teaching Primary Care Trust with a focus mainly on Greenwich Community Health Services (GCHS). He played a key role in the transfer of GCHS to Oxleas and began spending some of his time working at trust headquarters six months before the services joined the trust. 

When asked about the transfer to Oxleas Keith replied: "GCHS have benefitted greatly from having a much stronger set of corporate functions such as Communications, Human Resources, Learning and Development and of course Governance. There are adjustments still to be made though. At the majority of meetings I attend the agenda is still 80-90% mental health related. This is changing slowly though."  

Keith has been Vice Chair or Bliss for the past two years and takes up the role as Chair on 21 March 2012.

Published on 16th March 2012