Our People

STAFF

Paula Ojok

Paula Ojok

Chief Executive

Gemma Khairi

Gemma Khairi

Director of Operations

Lorraine Pearce

Lorraine Pearce

Head of Administration

Laura Dowswell

Laura Dowswell

Head of Finance

Nicola James

Nicola James

Head of Membership

Annika Howard

Annika Howard

Marketing and Communications Manager

What do you enjoy most about your role?
1. It’s unpredictable and no two days are the same
2. Overcoming challenges both internally and externally
3. Working with a great group of people and enjoying my work as we move forward

How would you like to make a difference?
1. By playing a part in individual team members growth and satisfaction in their roles
2. Driving recognition and appreciation of the help services sector and our members
3. Supporting the sector to raise the quality of services provided

What are your top 3 values?
1. Being honest, open and transparent.
2. Being kind and generous in our thoughts and considerate in our actions
3. Being trustworthy and reliable. Our reputation depends on it!

Joined the Helplines Partnership team: 16 September 2008


Click here to see all articles written by Paula

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy connecting and engaging with people and building relationships which I think are very important in both my personal and professional life. I am committed to those relationships and seek also to bring people and organisations together in order to share and uplift and support each other. I also enjoy the complex nature of my role in seeking creative solutions to new challenges and analysing and sharing best practice. For me, it is all about moving in the right direction and continuously reflecting on what and how we can be better in order to serve the sector.

How would you like to make a difference?
I would like to support in the creation of positive cultures and open and transparent partnerships across the sector to secure a more powerful movement for the sector and in that create the respect and recognition the helpline sector deserves. To unburden and shine a light on the hidden qualities, commitment and passionate work that takes place across the sector, offering a renewed admiration to a sector that remains hidden in plain sight.

What are your top 3 values?
1. Respect
2. Balance
3. Honesty

Joined the Helplines Partnership team: 4 February 2019

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Working with a great team of people, who support each other to get things done.

How would you like to make a difference?
By playing my part to keep HLP running as an organisation so that it can support and give awareness to the valuable work that helplines do for those that need it most.

What are your top 3 values?
1. Commitment – to do the best I can in not only my role at HLP but for those who are precious to me
2. Thoughtfulness – I try to think of others and how I would feel in their situation, keep an eye out for family and friends
3. Happiness – it means different things to everyone, but if we could all spread a little of it in our everyday lives, even just wearing a smile, what a wonderful world it would be

Joined the Helplines Partnership team: 31 March 2009

What do you enjoy most about your role?
It’s very fast-paced and no two days are the same.

How would you like to make a difference?
By working with a great team at HLP I believe that we can make a difference to the helpline sector by highlighting the profile of helplines and the importance of them in today’s society.

What are your top 3 values?
1. Trustworthy
2. Reliable
3. Contentious

I hope my colleagues and friends would agree!

Part of the Helplines Partnership team since: 13 December 2010

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The most enjoyable part of my role is meeting and talking to members. Our member organisations are so diverse so I’m always learning something new about the helpline world. I just wish I had a brain, computer system or notebook big enough to hold all the information!

How would you like to make a difference?
To know I’d made someone happier or feel better by listening to them or thanking them for what they do.

What are your top 3 values?
1. Community: I like to feel a sense of community around me, both at work and at home. Being part of a group of people with similar aims and values is important.
2. Dependability: If you say you’ll do something, then you do it. This is probably why I end up organising so much at work and at home!
3. Thoroughness: If you do something, then you do it well. I can go a little over the top with attention to detail though!

Joined the Helplines Partnership team: 30 November 2005


Click here to see all articles written by Nicola

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The variety of things I get to do in it and the opportunity to learn about and share the work of organisations that, in many cases, can be life-changing for the people they work with.

How would you like to make a difference?
To help get the message out there that if you, or someone you know, needs help, advice or information when you are ready to talk there are organisations that can help.

What are your top 3 values?
1. Learning – It’s so important to me to keep learning, investigating, asking questions and being curious.
2. Kindness – Thinking about how I do what I do if there is a kind way to do it always do it that way. There’s no need for nastiness.
3. Stability – To strive to achieve it and provide it.

Joined the Helplines Partnership team: 9 January 2018


Click here to see all articles written by Annika
Membership Team

Membership Team

Membership Executive

Bethan Harries

Bethan Harries

Trainer & Assessor

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Working alongside a proactive Head of Membership and HLP Team; trying to make sure our members have a good experience and feel heard; meeting actual members face to face on the reception desk at the Annual Conference and making them feel welcome on the day; being able to work from home.

How would you like to make a difference?
Publicising helplines – making sure they appear in the public arena for people to find when they really need them; ie flagging them for sharing on Twitter and Find a Helpline.

What are your top 3 values?
1. Fairness
2. Understanding
3. Harmony
4. Solitude
5. Security
Ooops more than 3!

Joined the Helplines Partnership team: 12 July 2010

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Meeting different people across the sector, and learning about their varying roles and organisations.

How would you like to make a difference?
Through the training that I carry out, I hope to empower people to work in a safe environment and to upskill them so that they’re confident in their role; ensuring best practice in their organisations. In turn, this should mean service users get the best experience possible.

What are your top 3 values?
1. Integrity: I think this is vital in developing relationships and in delivering quality training. I never pretend to know the answers, and will always follow up on things that I don’t know.
2. Balance. Whilst my career is extremely important to me, so is my young family. I work hard, and I play hard. I feel extremely lucky that HLP are a fair company to work for and hold strong values to ensure a balance is maintained. As I often tell people during training ‘taking care of yourself is an essential part of taking care of others. The healthier the tree, the better the fruit it can offer’.
3. Dependability: Having worked in various roles within the sector for years, I am all too aware of how much work goes into arranging and agreeing on training. I am a very dependable person and strive never to let people down, ensuring best quality practise training, at an agreed date and time.

Joined the Helplines Partnership team: 10 December 2019

TRUSTEES

Sophie Andrews

Sophie Andrews

Elected Member Trustee

Stephen Buckley

Stephen Buckley

Elected Member Trustee

Emma Bull

Emma Bull

Co-opted Trustee

Clodagh Crowe

Clodagh Crowe

Elected Member Trustee

Karen Ditchfield

Karen Ditchfield

Co-opted Trustee

Diane James

Diane James

Elected Member Trustee

Sophie Andrews is the Chief Executive of The Silver Line Helpline and was recruited by Dame Esther Rantzen and the Board of Trustees as their first employee in September 2012. Within two months of joining she successfully launched a pilot of the service across the NW of England and then with a small team secured the funding in order to launch the service nationally in November 2013. Sophie has extensive experience of working at both strategic and operational levels, and in managing and large numbers of staff and volunteers. In recognition of this she was awarded Voluntary Sector Achiever of the Year at the Women in Public Life Awards in 2011.

For more than 25 years Sophie has been employed in senior management positions within the private sector, the public sector and voluntary agencies. She has extensive helpline experience and began her career as a call centre manager for Cable and Wireless and then Marks and Spencer Money before making the transition to work in social care. She then went on to become Head of Volunteering at the NSPCC (ChildLine). Alongside her professional career, Sophie has been a Samaritan volunteer for over 25 years and held the position of Branch Director and Regional Director before being elected as National Chair of the charity which is a position she held from 2008-2011. Sophie is also a published author and motivational speaker.

Which organisation do you work for and what is your role?
I work for Mind, the mental health charity as Head of Information. My role is to run Mind’s national information and support services, such as our helplines, digital peer support community and information service. Last year, around 100,000 people accessed a Mind helpline.

What inspires you?
This is a cheesy-but-true answer: the fantastic people I work with at Mind who always amaze me with their collective insight, enthusiasm and compassion.

How would you like to make a difference?
I’ve seen a number of friends lose years and years of the kind of life they might have had because they were unable to get the kind of support they needed with their mental health. Connecting more people with the right help at the right time is how I would like to make a difference.

What motivated you to become a Helplines Partnership Trustee?
Listening to the feedback of users of Mind’s helpline services and the impact that a relatively short phone call has had on how someone thinks and their confidence in asking for help is incredible. Collectively, voluntary and charity sector helplines make a huge contribution to hundreds of thousands of lives each year, and it’s important that this contribution is recognised and celebrated.

Trustee since: 19 December 2019

Emma has worked with helplines for 13 years. She started as volunteer with the Samaritans and then worked with Missing People, the MS Society and more recently Turn2us. She has run, led and innovated helpline teams and services from an operational and strategic perspective. Emma is passionate about equality and upholds inclusivity for marginalised groups: those that identify as an ethnic minority, having a disability, having mental health and/or physical health challenges or people from the LGBTQIA community. Emma is as Professional Therapist providing Counselling and Talking Therapy privately. She also works for Citizens Advice as a regional Program Lead for a project helping people with the welfare benefit Universal Credit. Emma has a BSc in Psychology, an MSc in Therapeutic Counselling and is a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

Which organisation do you work for and what is your role?
I work for Rural Support, a Northern Ireland based helpline set up in 2001 to support farming families. My role is Service Co-ordinator and includes managing a regional farm business mentoring service. I am currently Chair of Helplines NI, a member-led network of over 30 Northern Ireland based helplines established by the Public Health Agency in 2013.

What inspires you?
Collaborating with positive, like-minded people.

How would you like to make a difference?
This is a tricky one as my answer will vary depending on which hat I’m wearing. However, I believe that everything we do as service providers must be driven by need and have the service users’ interests at the heart of it. Services need to focus on quality and sustainability and partnership working is a key part of that. I would like to ensure that more people know how to access the support that’s out there.

What motivated you to become a Helplines Partnership Trustee
Having been a member of HLP for many years I really valued the services our organisation has benefitted from but it was, put simply, the quality of the staff team that made me want to get involved. The expertise, knowledge and commitment of the team members I have met made such an impression that I wanted to get involved in this way. I hope I can contribute in a meaningful way to the ongoing success of the organisation and maybe bring a few ideas from Northern Ireland to the table!

Trustee since: 6 December 2019

Which organisation do you work for and what is your role?
I work for WISE as the Operations Director. WISE is a social enterprise with the purpose of gender balance in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in the UK workforce and education. I’m responsible for our operational support functions – so people, systems and finances.

What inspires you?
Seeing people supporting others because they care about a particular cause or issue. This is something that you see across the helplines sector, on so many different and diverse topics, often when people are at their most vulnerable. It takes real skill to be able to provide this support with care and compassion. The people that do this are an inspiration.

How would you like to make a difference?
I’ve worked with a lot of helpline services and not for profit organisations over the years, and I’ve learnt so much from them, now I’m happy if my experience can be used to help others, so we can all work together to make a difference.

What motivated you to become a Helplines Partnership Trustee
The work of the helpline sector is really important and diverse. The important role it plays in supporting people often goes under the radar. I really wanted to be able to work with an organisation that champions the voice of the helpline sector and provides the people working on helplines with much-needed support.

Trustee since: 21 January 2016

Which organisation do you work for and what is your role?
I work for Blue Cross animal charity, I manage the Pet Bereavement Support Service.

What inspires you?
What inspires me, is knowing that the charity I work for and the team I lead can make a difference, this then makes me want to develop, train and support others.

How would you like to make a difference?
I would like to make a difference that impacts so much on others, that when I am no longer here, I am not forgotten, that difference may be something that evolves from my research, or just that my work made life better for others, or how every day I made a difference to the world, just by being kinder to all. (corny I know)

What motivated you to become a Helplines Partnership Trustee
I wanted to be able to support an organisation, that really can provide a difference to people and users of its services, but most of all wanted to be a part of something that I felt I could contribute, my knowledge, life experience and impartiality to.

Trustee since: 12 December 2019

Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy

Elected Member Trustee

Chlöe Morton

Chlöe Morton

Elected Member Trustee

Avatar

Debbie Sadler

Elected Member Trustee

Jon Spain

Jon Spain

Co-opted Trustee

Daniel Whitbread

Daniel Whitbread

Co-opted Trustee

Which organisation do you work for and what is your role?
I work for Rethink Mental Illness and Mental Health UK. I am the Associate Director for Advice, Information and Training.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by people who are passionate about making a positive difference to society.

How would you like to make a difference?
I would like to make a difference by ensuring that everyone who may be affected by a mental illness has the knowledge and confidence to enforce their legal rights, and by supporting employers to understand and support the mental health of their employees.

What motivated you to become a Helplines Partnership Trustee
I was motivated to become a Helplines Partnership Trustee because I know how important helplines are for people, particularly those struggling with their mental health, and I wanted to give something back to a charity whose mission it is to promote the interests of helplines and make sure they can continue to thrive and support all those who need them

Trustee since: 18 November 2015

Which organisation do you work for and what is your role?
I’m the Director of Services for a charity called The Mix. It supports young people 25 and under through a multi-channel helpline, content, online community and free counselling services.

What inspires you?
Creating positive change, whether a small act of kindness on your way to work or campaigning for policy change. Not only does the outcome of positive change within our society inspire me, but I enjoy the realness, conversation and passion of those that are making it happen.

How would you like to make a difference?
I believe we all have the responsibility to make the world a better place beyond our own bubble. I want to be part of making a difference to the lives of our future generations somehow, as well as being the best mother I can be to a future change-maker.

What motivated you to become a Helplines Partnership Trustee
Helplines (whether telephone, webchat, text or email) can be a lifeline for so many people. I have not only managed them in my day job but volunteered for over 13 years with the Samaritans. By being a HLP trustee I want to play a part in helping them be as accessible and relevant as possible.

Trustee since: 21 February 2019

Which organisation do you work for and what is your role?
I work for Unlock as Advice Manager

What inspires you?
My day job involves overseeing the Unlock helpline which provides information, advice and support to people with a criminal record. Every day I hear from people who’ve been treated unfairly, often because of something they did many years ago. This is compounded by the fact that they then struggle to find non-judgmental, professional help when they need it.

I know that the Unlock helpline, like many other helplines, offer the confidential and impartial support and advice that people need when faced with these problems. Knowing that our helpline can reassure and reduce a caller’s fears or help them to access help from other organisations is what gives me the motivation to get up in the morning.

How would you like to make a difference?
I’d like to use my skills and experience in whatever way I can to help Helplines Partnership continue their work in increasing the recognition and sustainability of the helpline sector.

What motivated you to become a Helplines Partnership Trustee?
Unlock has been a member of the HLP for many years and I’ve been lucky enough to attend several Helplines Partnership conferences which resulted in Unlock winning an award in 2014 for best use of innovative technology and a ‘star member’ award in 2019.

I’ve been considering applying for a trustee role for a little while and when I became aware that they were recruiting trustees it seemed the ideal fit not least because although I was a novice trustee I did have some experience of running a helpline which made me think that I may be able to bring some skills/experience to the board.

Trustee since: 10 February 2020

Jon Spain is a professional Actuary and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, with experience in the private and public sectors, spanning over 40 years, retiring from the Civil Service in 2018. Formerly, Treasurer of Community Voice Health (a patient/member-led community organisation monitoring NHS Trusts and CCGs), he is currently Treasurer of Law For Life.

Trustee since: 6 November 2019

Daniel’s current role is Head of Operations at Samaritans, where he has worked for 7 years. Before that he worked and volunteered for two other helplines, Get Connected (now The Mix) and Childline. Daniel has an MSc in Voluntary Sector Management from Cass Business School, and has a particular interest in the different languages of technology, and how change happens on a large scale.