Our board of trustees is vital to the success of Gingerbread. Our trustees are experts from a range of fields who give up their time freely to help us successfully support single parents. Many also have experience of being a single parent or growing up in a single parent family.

The board is responsible for helping us set our long-term strategy and ensuring that Gingerbread’s operations and governance comply with our charitable aims and regulatory requirements.

Simon Bentley

Chair

Simon is an exceptional operator and Chairman with an inspirational career to date and a proven track record of delivering success in demanding environments. A dynamic and flexible leader who places his team at the heart of his approach, his current and past positions as Chairman, Chief Executive and Independent Non-Executive Director include Blacks Leisure Group Plc, Frasers plc (formerly Sports Direct International plc), Premier Foods Plc and Umberto Giannini.

Alongside his commercial activities, he has been consistently involved with charitable and educational organisations, including The Leadership Trust, Kisharon, Yad Vashem UK Foundation, Saving Faces and many others.

Simon feels privileged to act as Chairman of Gingerbread, the organisation representing and supporting single parents in England and Wales, and to have the opportunity to share his relevant knowledge and experience.

Evangelos Raptis

Treasurer

I am a finance professional with over 25 years' experience in the private sector. I have worked as an investment banker in the City of London, a venture capitalist in California and a Finance Director in various technology companies across Europe.

I am passionate about all things around parenting and parenthood. I am the proud father of an adopted son and I work as a family counsellor, registered with UKCP and the CNHC, supporting parents in my private practice and various not-for-profit settings.

Dr Jo Casebourne

Trustee

I was brought up in a single parent family in the 1980s and 1990s, which led me to do my PhD on the impact of welfare reform in the US and the UK on work and poverty for lone-parent families. I have subsequently spent the last 20 years conducting research on public services, social innovation, disadvantaged groups in the labour market, welfare-to-work, employment and skills, work-life balance and childcare. I became Chief Executive of the Early Intervention Foundation in August 2017.

The biggest challenge facing single parents over the last 18 months has been the impact of Covid - from juggling work and home-schooling, to making ends meet for those who lost their jobs or couldn't find work, whilst also supporting their children finding time to look after their own mental health. The work of Gingerbread is more important than ever and I am pleased to be a part of helping Gingerbread support lone parents.

I enjoy walking with my dog and am currently nearing completion of the 630 mile South West Coastal Path - being up on the cliffs is a great way to get perspective and to relax. I also love reading and I blog on the books I enjoy.

Lynette Eastman

Trustee

I am a board level transformation advisor and coach with experience gained across a range of sectors including financial services, technology, telecoms, energy, professional services, public sector, and healthcare. I have specific expertise in leading culture and business transformational change as a result of turnaround, organisational change and M&A.

My commitment to single parent families has in part been influenced by the experiences of my own family. My dad was fostered at six weeks old until adulthood with a loving single parent family, giving him the opportunity to live a secure, happy, and fulfilled life which he treasured and engendered in his own family.

I have worked globally across a wide range of corporates; my most recent executive HR Director role was as Director HR Transformation and Operations with HMRC. In my consulting practice, I am recognised for delivering commercial interventions that support business leaders translate their plans into customer orientated solutions.

I am on the boards of the University of Nottingham and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. I am also a trustee of Humanity and Inclusion UK.

Diane Gault

Trustee

I’ve got a lot of admiration for single parents and I believe that single parent families should be better supported. Both my mum and my sister were single parents, so I know what a struggle it can be. Gingerbread has an impressive track record of supporting single parents, committed and passionate staff and volunteers, and the knowledge and expertise to make a real difference to the life’s of single parent families.

A lot of single parents struggle financially due to barriers around accessing work and child care, and trying to work whilst parenting alone, which is sometimes simply not possible. When it is possible, it’s demanding and exhausting. When it’s not possible to work due to caring responsibilities, or lack of work that fits in with parenting alone, single parents are often in poverty. Whatever the individual situation, it’s an uphill battle.

I hold a Joint Honours degree from Goldsmiths College, University of London and I’ve worked in the charity sector for over 20 years. I’m a fundraiser by background, and over the last 17 years I have held Director level roles working across fundraising, membership, digital, external communications, marketing and campaigns. I’m a full member of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.

I’m mother to Allegra, who is eight going on 30, and I also have two dogs and five cats, so I’m pretty busy. Allegra is a budding athlete and has been invited to join an athletics academy, so we do that, and we run together as well as doing karate and lots of dog-walking. We read together too, although now she’s old enough she mostly likes reading to me, which is a nice change! When I get time outside of that, I try to keep up with karate and yoga, both of which I’ve been doing for nearly 20 years.

Henry Gregg

Trustee

As someone who grew up in a single parent family, I am aware of the day-to-day challenges they face, for example financial stability or finding safe, secure housing, and I really want to help Gingerbread get support for the people who need it the most - especially post-pandemic when the pressures on single parent families have become immense.

There is still stigma around single parent families but hopefully, the highlighting of inequalities during the pandemic has increased understanding of these challenges and the public desire for action to address and help to solve these issues.

I went to comprehensive school and Oxford University before a career working in politics and housing. I work for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham as Director of Strategy and Culture, supporting and empowering residents through the recovery from the pandemic.

I have a long standing tradition of inventing stories for my children, aged five and seven, before they go to bed which has forced me to be very creative and imaginative as I have to come up with a new one every night - but is reflective of the fact that I really liked being read to as a child and I'm looking forward to reading them some great books in the future!

Mariam Kemple Hardy

Trustee

I've joined Gingerbread as a trustee to support the organisation in its mission to support single parents and their families to thrive because, as a feminist and a parent, I know this critical to achieving a more equal society. Furthermore, there has never been a more important time to support single parents after the impact of Covid-19 laid bare the stark inequalities suffered by those households, particularly the financial instability experienced by so many single parents.

I have almost 15 years' experience working as a charity campaigner and since 2016 I have been Head of Campaigns at Refugee Action. I studied English Literature at Cambridge University followed by Human Rights Law at the School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). I've previously been a Trustee for the Woman's Trust.

I have two boys, a five-year-old and two-year-old, who keep me very busy. We enjoy splashing in muddy puddles, warming up by baking brownies and then eating them while watching Disney as part of our "Family Film Club". If I do find any time outside of that, you'll find me in a yoga position, at a climate protest or chatting with friends.

Ema Howling

Trustee

I'm a single parent and have been a Gingerbread meet-up co-ordinator for the last seven years. I have got great experience and knowledge and want to use both in my role as trustee to enhance and help others in the same situation. The biggest challenge faced by single parents is to not be forgotten but to be included.

My background has always involved children. I'm a qualified nanny of 20 years and a children’s party entertainer - I can do everything from balloon modelling to face painting to making crafts. I attend fairs and festivals as a face painter, glitter tattoos are a favourite! I am also a trained hairdresser and barber, although at present I only cut my son's hair.

I love to travel and this hasn't changed since my son was born. We’ve been to many countries together and we've volunteered in schools in Costa Rica, Nepal and Ghana and we even helped out at a turtle sanctuary. I definitely enjoy making memories, making every day mean something and to always to be kind - smiling at people is one of the easiest and quickest ways of getting great reactions. You never know how bad somebody’s day could’ve been.

I’ve been fundraising for Marie Curie for several years and I am actively involved in my local community. I help at my local food bank and I attend my local church weekly. I’m also part of the parents in participation at my son's school and I have joined forces with the local theatre to help hold events for single parents. Last year, I was a surrogate for a family which was a great experience. I firmly believe that life is not what you can take out of it, it’s what you can give back.

Tom Madders

Trustee

Single parent families face enormous pressures but are consistently overlooked as a group that needs additional support. I joined Gingerbread because I want to be part of changing that by giving single parents a stronger voice in shaping the policies and practices that impact them.

I'm Communications and Campaigns Director at YoungMinds, where I am responsible for campaigns and influencing, digital, brand and our youth voice work. I've spent 16 years in the charity sector, mainly at disability charities. I've worked in a variety of roles, but the constant thread has been about giving power to the people we represent to create change and running campaigns with real impact.

I'm a new father, so my son, Vito, has my attention during most of my free time. You'll also find me sitting at a piano or on a tennis court when Vito lets me! My son is really little still, but he mainly enjoys putting random objects into his mouth and making increasingly ridiculous noises. Hopefully his interests will develop over time

Lucy Morgan

Trustee

I am a single parent to three teenagers, one of whom has severe learning disabilities. I applied to be a trustee of Gingerbread because single parents of disabled children are usually too busy to advocate for themselves, as their time is taken up fighting for basic services, and because all single parents face additional difficulties in one form or another, and Gingerbread is here to help. I have called the Gingerbread helpline myself and found the advisors incredibly well-informed and helpful.

I think the biggest challenge faced by single parents is the time-money-childcare nexus and Brexit and Covid have significantly worsened this for us. Additionally, single parents of disabled children have to continually fight for basic rights and services.

I am senior solicitor at a large national charity. I got into the charity world when my second child was born with Down's Syndrome. I co-founded, chaired and ran for three years a charity called Downright Excellent that provides educational therapies and support for children with Down's Syndrome and their families in London. I hope my legal knowledge will enhance good governance on the board.

I had a previous career as an international trapeze artist and so in my spare time and when the weather is fair I still like to do some aerial training on my outdoor rig. I also enjoy hearing what my children are into, their generation is so creative, principled and engaged with the world. We all like going to the circus of course! Who doesn't want to be part of a magical world outside of normal society?

Naz Nowroozi

Trustee

I became a single mother shortly after my beautiful daughter turned a mere year old. What should have been the happiest moments of my life as a first time mum on maternity leave instead became one of the darkest and most traumatic times for both her and me. I struggled at first, but then I realised that human beings are built with an incredible reserve of strength and determination. As a trustee, I'd like to see all parents and wider members of any community know about Gingerbread and for all single parents to be proud to mention us.

I obtained my BA Hons in Film and Broadcasting, and after a couple of roles on a Children's TV and a leading Formula 1 Magazine, I accidentally found my passion for finance. I became a qualified accountant in 2011. After senior leadership finance roles at a leading UK Housing Association and girls' empowerment charity, I needed to make some changes to find my feet to take care of myself and my daughter. I am currently a finance manager for a local authority, and I love what I do. I hold FCCA status and am studying towards my APM - Association of Project Management.

As a child, I loved reading, roller-blading, going to the cinema, baking and just doing lovely activities at home with my family—something I model for my little one as she grows. Our family might just be the 2 of us, but I ensure small loving rituals are in place, so she also grows with warm, fond memories of her childhood. We go for nature walks and do lots of arts and crafts and imaginary play. Our best times are when I just sit with her in her room for hours on end and let her lead with her heart content with play and games. I do aspire to find some time to do yoga, meditation and to get through a pile of books I have on child development and psychology - I am passionate about children's mental health and love the Montessori principles that help a child flourish and grow.

The biggest challenges for single parents are childcare costs and finding time for everything. Childcare costs prevent (mainly) mothers from finding space and sanity, from getting back to work and doing what they enjoy.

Every single parent and their child should be free from suffering and access a life that makes them smile- I will do all I can to contribute to the materialisation of this dream.

Tayyaba Siddiqui

Trustee

I have been a single parent for 10 years and I am blessed to be the parent of an 11-year-old boy. Domestic violence was all that I faced in the relationship with my son's father, even after leaving him. One day, finally, I closed my door on him forever. Life was hard but I was hopeful that one day things would get better. Hearing my son call me 'Mum' and his smiles have kept me going. My life is a roller coaster as a single mother, however I learned one thing: I am worth it!

I am a volunteer for a few charitable organisations, including as a Gingerbread group co-ordinator. I didn't get much support as a single parent early on and I realised that to have my voice heard I needed to have a platform. Being part of Gingerbread makes my voice a big roar of single parents and I as a trustee my plan is to have tailor-made support for single parents.

By profession, I am a physiotherapist from Pakistan and I now work in the NHS, I love my job. My hobbies are listening to music, cooking, arts and crafts, reading biographies and spending a lot of time in bookshops. My son and I have reading challenges and we enjoy pillow fights too!

Being a single parent is twice the work and twice the stress but twice the hugs, twice the love and twice the pride. As a single mother I discovered inner strengths and capabilities I never knew I had. By being there for my son and showing him that it is possible to live and thrive on your own, I am teaching him to love with respect and be a good human being.

The biggest challenge as a single mother has been childcare - childcare is needed so single parents can work and be able to take care of their physical and mental health. My advice to any other single parent is to not feel guilty about taking care of yourself and have your 'me' time when you can. You need to be emotionally and physically strong to take care of your kids. Remember that nobody has the right to judge you or put you on a hot seat.

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