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Our People

Our People

Find out more about Our People and Trustees

Paula Ojok Chief Executive

Paula Ojok - Chief Executive

Paula is Chief Executive of Helplines Partnership, having joined the organisation in 2008 when it was Mental Health Helplines Partnership. The organisation subsequently merged (2012) with The Helplines Association to form Helplines Partnership. Over the years Paula has progressed into a variety of management and Director roles until becoming Chief Executive in 2018. Mental health and wellbeing are of the utmost importance to Paula and this passion is evident in both her work and personal life. She lives with her family on The Wirral and you will often find her either walking or running with her Cocker Spaniel on New Brighton or West Kirby beach.

Gemma Khairi - Director Of Operations

Gemma is the Director of Operations. She has an MA in Criminology, Rights and Justice that largely focused on children and young people and mental health. She began her career working with vulnerable adults who had suffered drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues, before moving into working with young Care leavers, Street sex workers, and those affected by, or with, HIV. Gemma has extensive experience in safeguarding, child protection and the Helpline sector and feels very passionate about both. She has wide and varied operational management and leadership experience within the charity sector, having previously managed a large national volunteer-led service. Privately, Gemma is dedicated to her weight training and fitness, loves time by the waterfront with good food and enjoys a well-made cocktail, Negroni being a favourite.


Gemma Khairi Director Of Operations
Lorraine Pearce Head Of Administration

Lorraine Pearce - Head Of Administration

Lorraine has worked for Helplines Partnership since 2009 and has extensive and varied experience of working in administrative roles for the private, public and charity sectors. She likes to support others where possible, having previously volunteered on a helpline and by currently offering administrative support to her husband, who is Chairman of a local voluntary environmental charity. Her role at HLP includes Governance, Human Resources, general administration, Health & Safety and she often gets involved in all sorts of other things as they crop up from time to time. Outside of work, Lorraine enjoys walking in the countryside, reading, yoga, travel and meeting up with family and friends. One of her favourite mottos is ‘every day is a learning day'.

Laura Dowswell - Head Of Finance

Laura is the Head of Finance and qualified as an Accounting Technician in 2000 after completing her training in general practice and in 2012 gained Fellow status as an FMAAT member. She started working as a finance officer for a local Church in 2008 which sparked her interest in working in the Charity Finance sector. She is also HLP’s lead assessor and enjoys learning more about our member helplines and the services they offer. Laura is Chair of BBS UK charity, utilising her finance skills and being on the ‘other side of the table’. In her free time, Laura loves the beach life in both summer and winter as she lives with her family on the coast of West Sussex and can often be found taking a therapeutic dip in the sea.

Laura Dowswell Head Of Finance
Sam Bromiley Policy and External Affairs Manager

Sam Bromiley - Policy and External Affairs Manager

Sam joined Helplines Partnership in October 2021 having previously worked for a health charity as well as Parliament. He has experience working in policy across the health and disability sector and in his spare time is a local Councillor, focussing on children’s social care and care leavers. He has also led participation work in research projects and is keen to ensure the value and impact of helplines is evidenced. Sam leads HLP’s work on a wide range of policy issues relating to helplines and is looking forward to working with our membership to develop strategic policy activity. He lives with his family in the West Country and enjoys paddle boarding with his wife whenever possible.

Sonia - Membership Executive

Sonia works on the Membership Team and is the first port of call for organisations looking to join the Partnership or current members looking for help and support. Sonia can also sometimes be found on the reception desk at the Members’ Annual Conference as she really enjoys putting a face to all member contacts and making them feel welcome. She previously worked on an Advice Line signposting members of the public to help and support across Sussex and at the same time enjoyed a volunteer role at a holistic centre assisting at events and exhibitions. Having grown up in Africa Sonia enjoys being outdoors and is particularly keen on tennis, swimming and walking. She enjoys amateur photography and can often be found in nature which she finds extremely healing.

Sonia Membership Executive
Laura Pierce Services Co-ordinator

Laura Pierce - Services Executive

Laura is the Services Co-ordinator Executive and has many years of experience coordinating large events for online learning platforms. She enjoys her role in organising training and hopes to make a difference to the way Helpline training is provided and accessed, through guiding and supporting helplines to achieve their best and in turn offering the public the very best resources possible. Laura lives in Essex and in her spare time she enjoys days out with her family and exploring the Essex countryside.

Samantha Denyer - Helplines Standard Co-ordinator and Assessor

Samantha Denyer is the Helplines Standard Co-ordinator and an Assessor here at HLP. She is very interested in shining a light on the services our members offer and Helplines who have achieved the Helpline Standard. Sam has worked for over 20 years in information, advice and support work. Holding a senior position in the NHS as a Hearing Therapist as well as working in the Charity sector and Higher Education on helplines, outreach, volunteer and group support work. Samantha has a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences from The London Metropolitan University and Level 1 Honsand 2 in British Sign Language. Outside of work Sam can be found walking the family dog in all kinds of weather in the Northwest and has a love of reading, cooking, and baking, especially anything that involves chocolate!

Samantha Denyer Helplines Standard Co-ordinator and Assessor
Christian Murphy - Trainer

Christian Murphy - Trainer

Christian has a long and varied professional career, going back over 25 years. The majority of this time was spent delivering offending behaviour programmes and staff training within a criminal justice setting. He has a BSc Hons in English Literature & Creative Writing, plus qualifications in adult learning and children & young people’s mental health. He has also completed a diverse range of job-specific training courses, from First Responder Emergency Care and Mental Health First Aid to Cocktail Flaring! In his professional life he is passionate about working in helping industries and in his personal life loves movies, music and collecting books.

Stella Pearson - Trainer & Assessor

Stella has worked in helplines for 15 years, with a background in information provision and training in charities. With an MA in Information Studies, her first career in academic libraries also involved teaching and assessing students and planning for courses. Joining Helplines Partnership in March 2021, she loves being part of a team, and enjoys meeting, and learning from, people from a wide range of support services. She is always struck by the high levels of skill and commitment offered by helplines. She sees human connection, kindness, humour and stability as core to maintaining the quality of life. Away from work, Stella volunteers for a charity supporting vulnerable families and loves seeing her family, music, walking and nature. This year she created a pond in her garden and was delighted to welcome her first frog.

Stella Pearson Trainer & Assessor
Bethan Harries Trainer & Asessor

Bethan Harries - Trainer & Assessor

Bethan has a wealth of experience in the third sector, specifically with sensory disability, having worked with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, and those with Visual Impairments for the majority of her career. She service managed various telephone helplines and befriending services before joining HLP as one of our trainers and assessors. Bethan has recently returned back to North Wales, from Lancashire. When she’s not working she is busy looking after her young family and can be found cheering on the cricket and rugby side-lines!

Our Trustees

Karen Ditchfield - Chair

Karen Ditchfield - Chair

Karen works for Tameside, Oldham and Glossop Mind as Operations Director. TOG Mind is committed to the Vision to enable everyone in the community to achieve better mental health. Karen is responsible for the charity’s central operations directorate which includes people, systems and finances. The work of the helpline sector is important and diverse. The role it plays in supporting people often goes under the radar. Karen 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.

Jon Spain - Treasurer

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

Jon Spain - Treasurer
Elizabeth Rimmer - Elected Member Trustee

Elizabeth Rimmer - Elected Member Trustee

Elizabeth (CEO Lawcare) has been managing and developing charities in the mental health sector for over 20 years. She joined LawCare in 2014 from the Institute of Group Analysis, a membership and training organisation for group psychotherapists. Before that, she headed up Alzheimer’s Disease International, a worldwide federation of Alzheimer Associations. Elizabeth started her working life as a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence, practicing at Leigh Day.

LawCare is an independent charity offering emotional support, information and training to the legal community in the UK . We work to promote good mental health and wellbeing in legal workplaces and drive change in education, training and practice. If you need to talk call us on 0800 279 6888 or visit www.lawcare.org.uk

Stephen Buckley - Elected Member Trustee

Stephen works for Mind, (mental health charity) as Head of Information. His role is to run Mind's national information and support services, such as the helplines, digital peer support community and information service. Last year, around 100,000 people accessed a Mind helpline. Stephen has seen friends lose years of the kind of life they might have had because they were unable to get the support they needed with their mental health. Connecting more people with the right help at the right time is how he would like to make a difference. Stephen feels the voluntary and charity helplines sector makes a huge contribution to hundreds of thousands of lives each year and how important it is for this to be recognised and celebrated.

Stephen Buckley - Elected Member Trustee
Debbie Sadler - Elected Member Trustee

Debbie Sadler - Elected Member Trustee

Debbie works for Unlock as an Advice Manager. She oversees the Unlock helpline which provides information, advice and support to people facing stigma and obstacles regarding a criminal record. Knowing that the helpline can reassure and reduce a callers fears, or help them to access support from other organisations gives her the motivation to get up in the morning. Unlock has been a member of HLP for many years and Debbie has been lucky enough to attend several HLP conferences which resulted in Unlock winning an award in 2014 for ‘Best Use of Innovative Technology’ and also receiving a ‘Star Member Award’ in 2019.

Clodagh Crowe - Elected Member Trustee

Clodagh works for Rural Support, (Northern Ireland helpline formed in 2001 to support farming families). Clodagh’s role is Service Co-ordinator and includes managing a regional farm business mentoring service. She is currently Chair of Helplines NI, (member-led network of over 30 Northern Ireland helplines). Clodagh believes that services should focus on quality, sustainability and partnership working. She would like to ensure that people know how to access the support that’s available. Having been a member of HLP for many years she valued the services her organisation accessed. The quality of the staff team made her want to get involved as a Trustee. Their expertise, knowledge and commitment made such an impression on her, that she hopes to contribute in a meaningful way to the success of the organisation.

Clodagh Crowe - Elected Member Trustee
Diane James - Elected Member Trustee

Diane James - Elected Member Trustee

Diane works for Blue Cross animal charity as a Manager of the Pet Bereavement Support Service. Diane is inspired by knowing that the charity she works for and the team she leads can make a difference. She is passionate about supporting, developing and training her team to work together to best serve the needs of their callers. Diane wanted to work for an organisation that could make a difference to people and users of its services. As an HLP Trustee, Diane wanted to be a part of something that she felt she could impartially contribute her knowledge and life experience to.

Katie Foulser - Elected Member Trustee

Katie has worked for Rethink Mental Illness for almost 20 years. Katie is currently the Acting Deputy Associate Director for Community Services and her substantive role is as Head of Community Services South.

Rethink currently has seven mental health helplines and is extremely pleased to be a Helplines Partnership member and proud to hold the Quality Standard. Rethink helplines provide emotional support, crisis management, information and signposting and many of these are open 24/7 or out of office hours when callers most need support.

Katie is really passionate about helplines and has directly managed various mental health helplines during her career at an operational and strategic level and was extremely keen to become a trustee of HLP to contribute her experience and skills and give something back.

Katie Foulser - Elected Member Trustee