How we work

Established in 2004, Upturn is a recognised Social Enterprise limited by guarantee. We remain steadfast and true to our core mission - to unlock the potential and improve the lives and the health & wellbeing of people from diverse groups and disadvantaged communities.

We believe that ‘everything starts and ends with the communities we serve’; this is reflected in how we encourage and share ideas; make space for our thoughts and feelings. We think about things together and then get projects and plans underway. We consider what we have achieved and learned and how we can build on this, make things better. We are committed to unlock talents and realise dreams. We listen to and learn from the people and communities that we serve. Working together we devise pathways to overcome problems, respond to opportunities and new ideas. We do this in partnership, with stakeholders, providers of services and businesses.

We do not believe ‘one size fits all’. Every person, whatever their circumstance, is unique and must be afforded adequate time, respect, and space to imagine and articulate what they want, then confidently step ahead to achieve their goals.

We have long recognised that the barriers to social mobility are dynamic, complex, and inter-linked. It is not just about jobs. They encompass family, gender, ethnicity, education, skills, training, disability, culture, values, and beliefs. Perceptions, opinions, and motivations must also be understood.

Making Connections

The tentacles of social immobility have inter-generational reach, their impact daunting and destructive. They scupper the best intentions and endeavours if not properly understood and tackled in the round.

Timely and meaningful interventions are vital. Presenting problems and transitional uncertainties must be addressed if intentions and commitments are to be nurtured; plans successfully delivered. Upturn is in for the long haul. Our doors remain open for all who pass through them for as long as our support is needed.

Our journey

Upturn has helped several thousand people gain work experience, secure employment, and set up businesses in key foundational sectors including, health & social care, housing, construction, retail, and food production. In the process it has helped people become more confident, self-sufficient, and equipped to contribute to the local economy. Upturn’s Social Mobility ethos and approach can be traced back to its origins in 2002.

Discover more about Upturn's impact on communities as seen through the eyes of co-founders Anwar Ali and Maria Williams in the featured videos, as well as exploring our journey on our informative timeline below.


Positive Action Training & Employment project provided participants with chance to secure permanent employment.


Upturn’s Access to Work team appointed by Guinness housing association to help devise its recruitment strategy and identify, recruit, manage and support apprentices focusing upon its communities.


Set up and ran five work & enterprise clubs using the Upturn Community Champion model in locations with high arrears, ASB and deprivation. Partnered with local training providers and place-based support services.


Limehurst Village – Place-based Employment and Enterprise initiative. Working with Regenda Homes our integrated approach to enterprise, new business creation and employment helped create 30 new business start-ups. Many of our innovations are now integral to several post-employment and fledgling business support packages.


Developed the Upturn Recruit Local concept – Values based recruitment for job seekers and businesses.


Working with the GMCVO we secured a bid for £8m supporting the creation of Social Businesses in three Manchester Boroughs. Anwar Ali, MD of Upturn, became an Honorary Fellow. Actively working with Oldham to secure SEUK Social Enterprise City status. Skills for Care - Health and Social Care project: This TLC Project has helped Health and Social Care employers widen their pool of applicants, recruit high quality staff and explore the untapped potential talent of local people.



Established the Social Innovation Hive


Anwar Ali awarded OBE With JCP and Skills for Care we have developed projects focusing on recruitment of Social Carers and supporting carers returning to work. New Leaf contract extended.

Our team

Our skills and talents encompass our work with People, Communities, and Enterprise.

Anwar Ali OBE

Managing Director

Maria Williams

HRM Director, Co-Founder

Janet Whitehead

Head of Employability and Training

Gail Lavery

Head Talent Coach

Chelsea Cook

Senior HRM Administrator and Talent Coach

Muzahid Khan DL

Business Coach, NLP Coach, and Author

Frank Drainey

Accountant, DHF Accountancy Ltd