Nathan Roberts - Chief Executive of the Sussex charity aBandofBrothers

PUBLISHED: 15:25 08 May 2015 | UPDATED: 15:26 08 May 2015


aBandofBrothers works to create strong communities of men who give their time in service to the wider community. The charity works particularly with young men who are trying to make a better life for themselves after spending time in prison.

Founded in Sussex, the charity is now seen as one of the leading national organisations doing rites of passage-based mentoring. It operates in Brighton, Crawley and Eastbourne, and is now expanding into London.

But the charity itself is currently homeless and seeking to form a partnership with a landowner to create a woodland venue where the rites of passage programmes can take place. We caught up with CEO Nathan Roberts to hear what the charity is up to, and how he likes to spend any free time he has in Sussex.

“Sussex has everything as far as I am concerned,” says Nathan. “Wonderful countryside, urban environments populated by creative and community-minded people interested in making the world a better place, and of course the wonderful coastline and sense of history.”

Nathan has a little boy called Patrick, and he says that when he’s not working, he likes nothing better than spending time with him. “He is my number one pastime! I also try and get to the gym and play tennis once a week, but this is often a stretch.”

He does like to sneak into his favourite local watering hole for the odd pint. “It’s The Ginger Dog in Kemptown, Brighton – relaxed atmosphere, great food, wonderful ales.”

If he’s out for a meal, Nathan says it’s Riddle and Finns Champagne, Oyster Bar and Restaurant in the Brighton Lanes every time. “I wish I could afford to eat there more often!”

A Brighton boy through and through, he says that if not out for a bite to eat, he loves to take a walk along Whitehawk Hill or The Seven Sisters. “The view from the Neolithic Enclosure site up at Whitehawk is amazing, as is all the woodland around here. There are so many walks to choose from – we’re very lucky. There’s something about the contrast of land and sea and the dramatic cliffs constantly changing through being weathered by the tides that feels magical.”

If there’s a big occasion, Nathan is far more likely to be found playing the host at home rather than painting the town red. “It’s partly because of the logistics involved with moving toddlers around and partly because I have a real passion for cooking and entertaining. I love it!”

A home-bird by his owm admission, he also enjoys a good film. “Starred Up is a recent favourite, as it speaks to the issues many of the young men in our programmes face. It feels like a valuable counterpoint to many of the stories out there about young men in prison. I also rewatched The Wire recently. For me this remains one of the most powerful dramatisations of the fault lines in US cities, and in fact in many of our own.”

Similarly, when asked what one thing he couldn’t live without, Nathan stays close to home, but is suitably shame-faced about his answer. “Sadly, I have to say my laptop. The fact that modern technology has now advanced to the point where a whole organisation can be run from a machine no bigger than an old encyclopaedia is one I still find wondrous. And the way in which the majority of the population use the technology to view pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers is perhaps even more wondrous!”

But if he had to pick one Sussex thing out that would lure others to our beautiful county, he is unequivocal. “The Bluebell Railway and a walk round Sheffield Park to really escape modern life for a while. With mobile phones switched off!”



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