We are proud to be led by a group of trustees with wide experience from many fields.
Isabel Boyer is an experienced director and non-executive director in the private and public sectors, and has served as Chair or trustee of several charities. As Chair of SafeLives, as well as in her other voluntary roles, she is committed to improving the health, well-being and safety of women and families. Her career has primarily been in commercial property investment and management; she has run her own business since 2006, after having worked for an international property company. She was previously in investment banking. In the health sector, Isabel’s experience includes policy development, service delivery and particularly working with service users. She works extensively to promote public and patient involvement and engagement, in research and in governance. Isabel also volunteers in a frontline NHS role, as an infant feeding specialist volunteer in a maternity ward.
Alex Butler is Vice Chair of SafeLives. She has extensive experience in digital, technology and change leadership and is the Chief Digital and Information Officer at the University of Bath, where she also holds the post of Executive Chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She has held numerous senior leadership roles across the public sector. She's a passionate advocate for EED&I, and in particular the widening of opportunity for all, particularly in encouraging diversity in technology.
Eva Bari is a qualified social worker with frontline social work experience working in the field of looked after care, child protection and undertaking specialist assessments on behalf of the local authority and court. Eva has spent four years at the National Crime Agency CEOP Command. At CEOP, Eva managed the Child Protection Team and has worked on a number of high profile cases including the William Vahey case and Richard Huckle case in Malaysia as the Lead Child Protection Advisor. Eva is currently the Head of Safeguarding at Chelsea football club working alongside the Board members to implement a robust safeguarding structure based on legislation, guidance and best practice.
Shana Begum is the founder of St Helens the Best Me CIC, a by and for grassroots organisation, led and run by volunteers in the community with lived experience of adverse childhood experience and domestic abuse, filling in the gaps that are normally left behind, breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and help survivors process trauma. Coaching, Training and Consultancy service.
Shana is also a local government officer, Domestic Abuse Trainer with 25 years of lived experience of Domestic abuse, Honour based abuse, and forced marriages. Shana uses her lived experience in research and policy development to help change systems and supports organisations to become more inclusive and diverse for marginalised communities and neurodiverse people. Shana is part of various organisations, local, national, and international.
Zoë Billingham was Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary where she had a particular focus on domestic abuse and ending violence against women and girls. A lawyer by background she has worked in Whitehall and local government. She has recently been appointed as Chair of an NHS Mental Health Trust.
Liz Hughes is a Chief Superintendent in Avon and Somerset Constabulary, her responsibilities include leading the response to Neighbourhood Policing and Partnerships across the force area. She has been a police officer for over twenty five years working in many roles and ranks across urban and rural areas. In 2013, Liz worked on a national level with the Home Office and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate to address and improve the policing response to domestic abuse. She supported the national rollout of legislation such as Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and was recognised by the College of Policing for her work and commitment.
Ursula Lindenberg is CEO of VOICES, a survivor-founded charity in Bath specialising in domestic abuse recovery and lived-experience consultation. Previously a human rights journalist and editor in London and Vienna, she has worked for the past 15 years as a translator specialising in environmental science and social ecology, and is a Clore Fellow.
Uzair Patel is an Investment Banking finance professional and Chartered Accountant with the ICAEW. He was co-creator of the award winning #ThisIsMe mental health campaign launched across the City of London in partnership with the Lord Mayor of London. He was previously a parliamentary researcher to Rt. Hon. John Denham MP in his capacity as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Uzair previously sat on the board of King’s College London Students’ Union as Chair of Audit and Risk.
Kelly Rust is Director of Grants and Impact at the London Community Foundation. She is responsible for the oversight and effective management of c1,200 grants per year valued at c£9m into grassroots charities in London. Overt the last 20 years she has worked in small and large charities and social businesses, with over 13 years in senior leadership positions. She has experience working in the fields of criminal justice, substance misuse, mental health/complex needs, women, LGBT+, human rights and community development as a staff member, trustee and consultant.
Bex Spencer is a manager at Social Finance, a non-profit that works to find better ways of tackling social problems by partnering with the government, the social sector and investors. Her work focusses on operational delivery of projects and helping existing interventions to reach scale. She was previously the national project manager to the Drive project, an intervention designed to challenge the behaviour of perpetrators of domestic abuse. More recently she has been working alongside NHS England to drive the national scale up of an intervention supporting people with ill mental health into employment.
Takki Sulaiman is Chief Executive for the Argyll and Bute Third Sector Interface in Scotland with responsibility for supporting 1000 third sector organisations, He sits on a number of health, social care and community development partnership boards. Formerly he was Assistant Director Communities, Culture and Policy for a London Borough with responsibility for the voluntary sector grants and commissioning programme and led the community response to Covid-19. Prior to this Takki led the communications function for two local authorities and the family court service (Cafcass). In addition, he also co-founded his own AIM listed financial PR company and started his career as a charity fundraiser. From 1998 to 2006 he served as a local authority councillor including four years as cabinet member for social services.
Tim Symington runs his own consulting business, helping a range of public and private sector organisations to manage security risks. He has a background in security and crime prevention having held senior roles in the Ministry of Defence and the National Crime Agency, where he was a Board member from 2013 to 2018. Tim is also trustee and treasurer of the Hospice of St Francis and a senior visiting research fellow at Kings College London.
SafeLives Advisory Group for Scotland
As well as our formal group of Trustees, we also have a Scottish Advisory Group.
Mhairi McGowan is an independent VAW consultant involved in delivering training, developing and managing a variety of projects and facilitating discussions between various strategic and operational agencies to find solutions. In a career that has spanned nearly 50 years Mhairi has worked in the Civil Service, the trade union movement and the Violence Against Women movement. Her particular focus throughout has been bringing people together to understand and respond either operationally or strategically to important issues. Mhairi helped set up the first women’s refuge in Greater Easterhouse in Glasgow and managed the first court based domestic abuse advocacy service in Scotland. She has worked with COPFS, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government a range of issues including the development of the Scottish equivalent of Claire’s Law (the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland) and the DA (Scotland) Act that criminalised coercive control.
Anna Mitchell is the UK Lead and Special Projects Manager for the Safe & Together Institute. The Institute’s mission is to create, nurture and sustain a global network of domestic violence-informed child welfare professionals, communities and systems. Anna has worked in violence against women services and operational and strategic roles within local and national government for more than twenty years. Anna has a passion and commitment to advancing systemic responses to domestic abuse to partner with survivors, intervene with perpetrators and improve outcomes for families.
Helen Hughes is a partner with McAuley McArthy and Co, Paisley and is a specialist in Family Law, with a particular expertise in cases involving domestic abuse. She has practiced in this area of law since 1987 and, when Chair of the Family Law Association, was involved in consultations with the Scottish Government and SLAB on legal aid issues in family law and domestic abuse cases. Helen is editor and co author of Domestic Abuse and Scots Law and an editor of Greens Practice Styles. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Scottish Women's Right Centre and is also a mediator accredited by the Law Society of Scotland. Helen is currently the Chair of CALM (Comprehensive Accredited Lawyers Mediators). Throughout her career she has provided advice and guidance to voluntary organisations, including Renfrewshire Women's Aid. She regularly provides training to solicitors and the public sector on family law, mediation and issues arising in domestic abuse cases and delivers the Civil Law training input for the Idaa training course organised by SafeLives, Scottish Women's Aid and ASSIST.
Girijamba Polubothu is the manager of Shakti Women's Aid in Edinburgh which also has an outreach service in Fife Tayside and Forth Valley in Scotland. She has worked extensively with minority ethnic organisations and has been working with Shakti Women's Aid for the past 19 years. She currently sits on the Scottish Government's Forced Marriage Network Group and has been actively involved in drafting the Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011, the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill which criminalises forced marriage and Multi agency practice guidelines – handling cases of forced marriage. She is also one of the Forced Marriage Commissioners (National Commission on Forced Marriage). Girijamba an active member of the National No Recourse to Public Funds Campaign Group lead by Southall Black Sisters and is locally involved with various Violence Against Women Partnerships and, Edinburgh's Marac and Cross Party group - Men’s Violence against Women and Children.
Dr Christine Goodall is a Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Oral Surgery at The University of Glasgow's School of Medicine Dentistry and Nursing. She trained in Academic Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Glasgow and Aberdeen and it was her work with facial trauma patients over many years that led to her founding the charity Medics Against Violence in 2008. Medics against Violence aims to prevent violence and reduce injury. They work in schools to help young people understand the consequences of violence from a health perspective. They also developed and provide training on domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault for health professionals, and others in front facing roles, through their Ask Support Care programme. They work in partnership with the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit to run the hospital based violence intervention programme, Navigator.Christine's research interests lie in the fields of alcohol, violence and facial trauma. She is an Honorary Member of the Faculty of Public Health and was awarded and OBE for her work in violence prevention in 2016.
John Devaney is the Centenary Professor of Social Work at the University of Edinburgh. He practised as a social worker for nearly 20 years in various roles, and his research relates to domestic abuse, the impact of adversity in childhood across the lifecourse, and child maltreatment. He has published three books and numerous articles on domestic abuse arising from his research. He has provided expert advice to government’s throughout Europe on their strategies and approaches to addressing domestic abuse, and initiated the now biennial European Conference on Domestic Violence. He is currently an invited member of the Scottish Government’s working group on misogyny and criminal justice.
Rory Macrae has worked in domestic abuse interventions for over thirty years, developing, delivering and managing both court mandated and non court mandated behaviour change programmes for abusing men with integrated women’s and children’s services. Rory was one of the authors of the original practice manuals for the Caledonian system published in 2009 and oversaw the rewriting of these manuals in 2017. He is currently the National Co-ordinator of the Caledonian, overseeing its implementation in 19 of Scotland’s local authorities.
Katie Cosgrove, formerly of NHS Health Scotland and Public Health Scotland.