President - Deidre Sanders MBE
Deidre Sanders MBE is the resident agony aunt on ITV’s daily This Morning programme and edited the daily Dear Deidre problem-page in The Sun from 1980 – 2020. Deidre trained in counselling and, with the help of her counselling team, answered every reader’s problem personally - more than six million over the years via letter, email, Facebook private messages and telephone advice lines.
Deidre is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a forum member of the Royal Society of Medicine. She helped found the Kids in the Middle coalition of 30 charities and 25 agony aunts, was a member of the Social Work Task Force and on the board of the National Family and Parenting Institute. Deidre is proud to become honorary president of Family Lives, is a patron of Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and was appointed an honorary council member of the NSPCC after serving on their National Commission of Inquiry Into the Prevention of Child Abuse.
Deidre previously worked at Nova magazine, The Sunday Times and Woman’s Own, where she was Consumer Journalist of the Year and awarded a Jubilee medal. She has been married for over 50 years and has two adult daughters and two grandchildren. Deidre was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list 2023.
Chair – Neena Rupani
Neena Rupani currently works in Regulatory Affairs for BT. With a background in Economics, Neena has over 20 years’ experience in the telecoms sector with roles in commercial management, pricing and regulation. Her responsibilities have included regulatory strategy, policy, compliance, governance and risk. As a parent, Neena feels strongly that having the right support available when you don’t know where to turn can make an enormous difference to families and a child’s future prospects.
Treasurer - Warwick Jones
Group Finance Director with quoted company experience. Responsibilities have included finance, risk, compliance, internal audit and IT. Key roles in strategic planning, corporate finance activity, restructuring, change management and investor relations. Strong emphasis on good corporate governance, robust financial control and shareholder value. Finance Director at the Bank of England.
Stuart has been a Trustee for 25 years, seeing the Organisation for Parents under Stress (OPUS) merge, grow and develop into Family Lives. During that time he has had a number of stints as Treasurer and Vice Chairman and filled in as Chair as a result of the indisposition of current Chairs. He has played a role in developing the trading arms of ParentlinePlus and Family Lives.
Previously he spent 10 years leading the youth involvement at regional and national level with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Appeal and Trusts. He was also a founder Director/Trustee of the Youth Enterprise Scheme which evolved into the Prince’s Trust. Formerly a Director of insurance and investment management companies, he has been for the last 20 years a serial small time entrepreneur in the financial services marketplace, developing new distribution and administration systems for niche activities within the industry. He is also a frequent contributor in the media and appears on news and financial programmes such as Money Box.
Suzie trained as a teacher, is a Relate-trained counsellor, an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator, a broadcaster and author of thirty one books. She has been a national agony aunt for almost 30 years, now writing for Woman magazine, and has written weekly columns in The Times, the Guardian, Woman’s Own magazine and BBC Health Online and was the counsellor seen guiding five families through their family dilemmas on the major BBC1 series, Stepfamilies. She was a trustee of Become, for “looked after” children and wrote agony pages in their magazines for LAC. Suzie was one of the founding agony aunts in the Kids In The Middle alliance, lobbying for increased support for children caught up in family breakdown, and edited the KITM website. She is alsp patron of Unique Kidz, which offers support to children and young people with disabilities and has worked for the Family Planning Association, Brook and Family Lives when it was Parentline Plus.
Suzie makes frequent appearances on national and local television and radio on programmes such as BBC Breakfast, You and Yours and Women’s Hour and is a regular on BBC Scotland and BBC Wales as well as many local BBC and commercial stations, often as a spokesperson for Family Lives. She is a freelance journalist and has written features, mainly on sex, relationship, parenting, health and counselling matters, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers. She has conceived and written leaflets and website material for many organisations including Family Lives, the NSPCC, One Parent Families now Gingerbread, the Family Planning Association, ParentingUK, Drinkaware and Brook Advisory Centres. She is regularly asked to give expert comment in the national press.
Suzie was previously Vice-Chair of Parentline Plus.
Anastasia de Waal
Anastasia de Waal is director of I Can Be, a charity focused on breaking down barriers to opportunity for children and young people. Previously Deputy Director of think tank Civitas, Anastasia has written a number of publications on education and family issues, and contributed regularly to the media.
Dr Amanda Holt
Dr Amanda Holt is a Reader in Criminology at the University of Roehampton, London. Her research interests focus on families, young people and harm and her research projects have explored issues concerning parenting support, family conflict, youth justice, prisoners’ families and violence in schools. Her most recent publication is the edited collection ‘Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse towards Parents: Approaches and Contexts for Intervention’ (Routledge, 2016). She has spoken on national television and radio about the problem of violence towards parents, and has worked with the Home Office in developing a Government response to it. Prior to her research career, Amanda worked with young people as a teacher.
Kerri Summers is the founder and Head of Client Services at The Working Parent Company. The business was established in 1997 to provide support and advice for working parents. It delivers seminars and coaching programmes within organisations on parenting topics, wellbeing and mental health. After recently completing an MSc in Psychology she is working with Great Ormond Street Hospital to explore the research question of how to support parents when they have a child in critical care in hospital and also a well child.
Kerri is a Parent Gym coach facilitating six week parenting programmes in schools. She was previously a Governor at The Henrietta Barnett School and for several years mentored 6th form students through the Camden Education Business Partnership. She has two sons and as a parent strongly believes that all families should have access to advice and friendly support when they need it.
Sally Land is The Sun's resident Agony Aunt, where she combines her counselling training with her journalism experience.She has over 20 years experience working within the Features and Women's departments. During her career she has worked her way up from writer, to Head of Features at The Sun. While at the paper she ran several campaigns working with Women's Aid and Rape Crisis and collaborated with several other charities including the NSPCC, Christian Aid and Save The Children.
Sally travelled extensively including; covering women's rights in Afghanistan, the lives of female soldiers in Iraq and maternal mortality rates in Malawi. She went on to establish her own communications business which specialised in working with charities and not for profit social enterprises.Campaigning, raising awareness of issues and amplifying the messages of amazing people has always been the main driver behind Sally's work.
Sally now lives near Bath with her husband, three sons, dog and a cat.
Eluned Harries has been a highly effective Leader of Teaching and Learning with students and teachers across the City of Oxford, promoting a culture of continuous improvement leading to high quality outcomes and for all young people. She played a crucial role in establishing and sustaining the Oxford Education Deanery at The University of Oxford which supported teachers in their engagement with research and professional development and has significant experience in working with new teachers, early career teachers and trainees. Eluned has researched and published in the field of teacher education with a specific focus on ensuring school improvement priorities are both evidence based and evaluated. She is a Youth Justice Panellist and is continually surprised and delighted at what young people and families can achieve with the right support at the right time.
Fola has always been passionate about charities and families, having sponsored 5 children with Plan for over 30 years. She worked for many years in the city as a business analyst, and is currently the owner and founder of an online art gallery, and an avid investor in small start ups and B Corp companies .She is very enthusiastic about the arts and is keenly involved in various art communities.
She was previously a governor of a local SEN school in Hertfordshire, and has seen how providing even basic assistance can impact families positively.The role of families in the community and society at large cannot be underestimated. She is also very much aware that minority and ethnic groups tend to not reach out for help, and would like to understand these communities in order to better serve them.