Neil Hawkins

Chair Befrienders Worldwide

Mr Neil Hawkins, MA (Cantab) PGCE
Neil Hawkins studied History and then Education at Robinson College, Cambridge University before embarking on a 32-year career in education. After teaching at several top independent schools in the UK for the first half of his career, for the last 16 years Mr Hawkins has been Principal of Concord College in Shropshire, England. The College is an international school which is committed to bringing young people together from around the world in a spirit of harmony and kindness. During his tenure as Principal, Concord has doubled in size, quadrupled its turnover and become one of the UK and the world’s top boarding and day schools. Throughout his educational career, Mr Hawkins has placed an emphasis on the well-being of young people as a bedrock on which to build external skills, talents and success. Mr Hawkins’ has chosen to step aside as Principal this year and is taking on a new role as Global Principal of Concord College International. He intends to combine this with the role of Chair of Befrienders Worldwide.

David Brodtman 


David is a Psychotherapist, based in London. He has a special interest in working with people affected by physical disability or life shortening health conditions.

He became involved with BW through his involvement as a Samaritan volunteer with Brent branch, in North West London, since 1985. During that time, as well as being a regular volunteer responding to telephone, text and e mail callers, he has undertaken a number of roles including shift leader, deputy director, committee chair and director. He volunteered with Samaritans’ Festival branch, providing emotional support at music festivals around the country, for approx. 4 years, and has also had a number of roles in the wider organisation, both nationally and regionally, most notably as London Regional Training Officer. His passion and interest has always been in training, and enabling volunteers to provide the best service possible to callers – wherever and however they may make contact.

For a number of years, David has been involved with Befrienders Worldwide, being a member of the team that organised and presented the International Training Event as part of the Samaritan’s annual York conference, and was an active member of the team that organised the international conference in Thailand in 2008. He has supported centres in various countries and various ways whilst being a member of the training group, and has visited centres in the US, Thailand, Malaysia, and Spain.

He became BW Training coordinator in March 2014. He shares his London home with his partner, and their rescued spaniel.

Oscar Monteiro


Oscar has worked in IT for many years developing computers system for a wide variety of businesses. He started helping out Befrienders Worldwide by managing its website a few years ago. 

Oscar is married to Claire, a teacher and they have three children.

Paulius Skruibis


I’m a PhD in Social Sciences (Psychology) and I’m the Chairman of the Board of Youth Line in Lithuania. I’m teaching and working as a researcher in Vilnius University and have a private practice as a clinical psychologist.

I was a volunteer in Youth Line from 1999 to 2002 and spent more than 1,000 hours taking calls. I also was a president of Lithuanian Telephone Emergency Services form 2007 to 2013.

I think that volunteering in Youth Line shaped me personally and professionally a lot. Actually, before joining Youth Line in my teenage years I called Youth Line and was supported during a very difficult time for me. I’m grateful for that and want to give back while volunteering as a trustee both in Youth Line and Befrienders Worldwide.

I’m married to my wife Irma and have two children. 

Pornthip Yoskittiphat


Pornthip has been a volunteer with Samaritans of Thailand since 1986. She was the Director of Samaritans of Thailand during 2009-2013, and is presently a member of the training team. Pornthip has been the BW Regional Co-ordinator – East Asia since 2009 and subsequently the Regional Co-ordinator representative observer on the BW Board, until her recent appointment as a full Trustee.

Melanie Paranvavitana


My name is Mela. I joined Sri Lanka Sumithrayo in 1994 wanting to help people in need. Quite unexpectedly it was my life that changed.

Volunteering does that. Kindness, acceptance, respect. People will always remember how you made them feel .What I recall most is the support and care I received from all our volunteers both in urban and rural areas of Sri Lanka.

We worked together as a family. It’s a page in my life I will never forget.

Sri Lanka Sumithrayo share a very close bond with Befrienders India and Kaan Pete Roy in Bangladesh but my hope is that interacting with BW Centres worldwide will change the feeling of isolation to working together to expand our innovative plans and the mutual trust BW members share to help and support people who are desperate and suicidal world wide.

Mela is married and has two daughters and five grandchildren.

Maggie Galliano 


Maggie Galliano is from Gibraltar but has lived in London for the past 40 years. She has been a Personal Assistant to a well-known designer for many years. Previously, Maggie has worked as a Secretary/Personal Assistant in a Mexican bank in the City, helping to set it up from scratch, and for one of the owners of a renowned Sherry house. Having grown up bi-lingual (English/Spanish), Maggie has always tried to use her languages in her working life. In her thirties, Maggie took a degree in Hispanic Studies at Kings College London, as a mature student.

Maggie has been a Samaritan volunteer at Central London Branch since 2004. She started as a regular volunteer and slowly took on more and varying roles within the branch such as leading Information Hours, helping with Selection and Training, being a Shift Leader and, after being a Trustee for a year, Maggie was asked to become Chair, a role which she held for three years. After that, Maggie was selected to be Director of the branch for three years. She is now back to being a regular volunteer.

Maggie’s involvement with BW began when she helped David Brodtman with the training of the first volunteers in Gibraltar as they took their initial steps in setting up a helpline. She is currently a Trustee and focuses on keeping in touch with all our branches worldwide. 

Merab Mulindi


Merab Mulindi is a Counseling Psychologist (M.A.) with a passion for suicide prevention. She is a founder member of Befrienders Kenya and has hands-on experience of working both as a volunteer at Befrienders Kenya and also as a member of the center management team. Before appointment as a BW Trustee, Merab served as BW Regional Coordinator for Africa.

Apart from the Befrienders Kenya center volunteer activities, Merab is also greatly involved in educating communities on suicide prevention and in efforts aimed at reduction of stigma through a joint project with International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). Through Befrienders Kenya she is currently the national representative for IASP in Kenya.

Merab is married to Patrick Mulindi and they have three children.

Martin Taylor

Trustee – BW Treasurer

Martin Taylor has an MA in Economics from Cambridge University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, having qualified with Price Waterhouse. He spent his early career in finance and consultancy and then joined Inchcape plc, the automotive distribution and retail group. At Inchcape Martin worked in various international roles, including as MD/CEO and Chairman of the businesses representing the Toyota/Lexus brands in Greece and Belgium, where he lived with his family for a total of 18 years. In 2005 he was appointed as CEO (Europe and Africa) and was a member of the Inchcape Group Executive Committee.

Since 2009 Martin has been building a ‘portfolio career’ and he manages his own consulting/advisory business. He is also Governor and Board member of Middlesex University based in London.

Martin is married to Sylvia and they have one daughter and one son.

Lea Zeinoun


Lea Zeinoun is a Public Health Professional and Community Health and Health Promotion specialist. Her dedication to mental health comes from her belief that all things stem and revolve around a sound mental wellbeing.

Her experience in the non- governmental organizations started in 2017 developing projects and creating content for diverse public health topics such as child protection, waste management and substance use. In substance use work Lea set off her journey in the field of mental health and after a year of working in a prevention and rehabilitation center Lea joined Embrace in 2018.

After working for two years as the Executive Director in Embrace Lea established her strengths in project development, proposals and partnerships. Her work has secured funding to sustain the operations of Embrace since 2018 and has supported expansion in terms of programs, specialized projects and partnerships to raise awareness to mental health in diverse settings and platforms.

Lea completed her master’s degree in public health with a concentration in health promotion and community health in 2017 from the American University of Beirut. Before that Lea graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Lebanese American University.

Nagesh Sood

Trustee – Secretary to Board of Trustees

Mr. Nagesh Sood is Honours in Physics from Delhi University and is a Law graduate from Aligarh Muslim University. He has Done Masters in law In Environmental Studies from School of Law, Gujarat University and also has Post-graduation in Human Rights.

Mr Sood is a practicing Lawyer at the High Court of Gujarat for last 30 years and is defending various Public and Private sector Corporations and Banking Institutions. He is connected to various Universities as a Visiting Faculty for Corporate Law and Law Practices. He is a member of several committees including member of board of Studies in Management and accounting, faculty of Law, Nirma University, and member of Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC), School of Engineering which is a committee for developing a system for conscious, consistent and catalytic action to improve the academic and administrative performance of the institution. He is a member of Anti-Ragging and Anti-drug committee at, School of Engineering Nirma University.

While performing various roles, Mr Sood has been able to understand the mental health issues which have been affecting people at large in various sections of the society. Mr. Sood has further created some handy modules for schools in order to connect with the students and youngsters. Mr. Sood has conducted several webinars on various topics relating to Law and practices as well as mental health. He has been invited at different forums as a speaker/panellist like IIT, Bombay to talk about ‘Depression in Youth’ for their annual event Techfest.

Mr. Sood collaborated with 2000 engineering colleges across India for conducting several workshops on mental health challenges faced by the students. Mr. Sood was able to get huge donations for Befrienders India. Mr. Sood conducted a musical charity show at the city Town Hall of Ahmedabad which not only helped Befrienders India in getting charity but it worked as a huge awareness campaign for suicide prevention for the city of Ahmedabad.

As Secretary, Befrienders India, Mr Sood coordinated with all the centres across India under the umbrella of Befrienders India for more than 6 years and brought improvement in the quality of befriending services being provided by the centres. He along with Team BI and Sneha conducted a National training for Trainers of various centres of BI where the thrust was given on handling callers in the changing societal norms. Also the old training manual was renewed suiting to the changing times and requirements.

He has a great passion for working towards suicide prevention and also helping people to come out of their mental health issues.

He is married to Pratima and has a son.

Dale Atkinson


Dale is an experienced and highly competent compliance and operations specialist. He has held multiple senior/board level positions within Tier 1 and 2 financial services firms. He currently holds joint roles as Chief Operating Officer for a boutique corporate finance consultancy firm and Compliance Consultant for one of the worlds largest asset management firms. Atop this, he has been and continues to be involved in a number of start ups and fancies himself a bit of an entrepreneur.

Amongst his numerous professional achievements, Dale led the group wide redesign and implementation of new compliance and operations systems for a well known asset manager, re-designed and re-imagined the global compliance framework for another well know financial services giant and has written more policy and procedure documents than he cares to admit.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his young family, going to the gym and home cooking. He is an avid Bath rugby supporter, having long ago been a player himself.

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