Jo has been a keen community activist and organiser for over 25 years. Her academic background is in social anthropology, political science and inclusive education.
Jo co-founded Skillnet Group Community Interest Company in 2001 and was its founding CEO until May 2013. Skillnet Group is a social enterprise that supports people with and without learning disabilities to work together to make differences and build connections within communities.
Along with her husband, Terry Thompson, Jo is currently developing a new social and environmental enterprise called the Abbot’s Mill Project in Canterbury. The mission of the Abbot’s Mill Project is to develop an urban hub of sustainability and social justice, powered solely by non-centralised, renewable energy, principally through re-instating a water wheel into the old mill race on the site of the former Abbot’s Mill. The hub will include an education/research centre about sustainable living, social justice, renewable energy and the importance of the River Stour in Canterbury’s past, present and future, a vegan community café and a community-led woodland/wildlife garden based on permaculture principles.
Jo campaigns for fairer, more equal, more compassionate and sustainable communities. She co-established Canterbury Alliance for Sustainable Transport. She has also set up the Canterbury Vegans and Kent Vegan Parenting groups and has recently been involved in establishing a low impact, affordable housing co-operative called Kent Low Impact Partners.
She is working as a freelance consultant, mainly in the areas of social justice, equality and sustainability; including social care and support, learning difficulty/disability and human rights focusing on co-production, personalisation, person-centred approaches and self-advocacy development.
Jo sits on the Editorial Board of the Tizard Learning Disability Review and the board of the Centre for Inclusive Futures. She is currently the Chair of Canterbury Green Party, Chair of Funding For All and is involved on the boards of several other local civil society organisations.
Jo and her husband own and co-manage an ancient woodland near Canterbury, using traditional coppicing methods. Jo and Terry live in Canterbury (and sometimes in their caravan in the woods!) with their daughter, Rosa.