Our team comprises women who are primarily from South Asian communities or have direct experience of South Asian cultures. As well as being highly trained in our field of expertise (IDVA and ISVA qualifications), we have several Asian and Eastern European language speakers with unique expertise and understanding of the culture and social factors that inhibit the development of individuals and make them vulnerable to abuse.
Many members of our staff and supporters know first-hand the devastation of violence and abuse and as such are empathetic to the problems faced by our beneficiaries. 20% of the women we help return to Aanchal as volunteers. These women are now committed to ensuring that no other women should suffer the same.
Our team capture the spirit of Aanchal.
Our current staff consists of 9 full time and 4 part time staff. We are supported by a dedicated Board of Trustees who have diverse skills in ensuring we are a sustainable and sound organisation, underpinned by values which run throughout the organisation and resonate with our beneficiaries.
You can read more about our team members below:
Margaretha Johanna Van der Schyf – Trustee
Margaretha van der Schyf, who had a senior role within Barclays Capital, first became involved with Aanchal in 2005 when she acted as legal advisor to Aanchal when it changed its legal status from charitable “project” to fully independent legal entity.
As a trained barrister, Retha has always held strong views about the protection of those that need it and was impressed by the mammoth task that Aanchal had undertaken.
She graduated from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, with a B.Comm (Law) and a LLB degree. She is also a MBA graduate from London Business School.
Kelly Mullane – Trustee
Kelly began supporting Aanchal Women’s Aid back in 2008 when she was a project manager within Emerging Markets at Barclays Capital. Kelly was part of the Women’s International Network. Over the couple of years working with the WIN committee Kelly had raised significant funds for the organisations. In 2010 Kelly along with the WIN committee supported Aanchal to launch their Cooperate Mentoring Scheme which successfully supported over 50 of Aanchal clients to gain confidence and knowledge in working within the corporate sector. Through this project Kelly became very involved with Aanchals future developments and was successfully recruited as secretary for the charity in 2009. Kelly graduated from Exerted University with an honours Degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Politics, and is a NATO-standard Arabic Interpreter. She is a qualified teacher with PGCE in Further Education from the University of Wales, and served as an officer in the British Army for nearly 7 years, attaining the rank of Captain, having served in Iraq, Jordan, Germany and the UK. Kelly graduated with an MBA from the Open University Business School in 2010.
Zoe Kondogeorgis – Trustee
I started with Aanchal in 2008 as a volunteer. I was voted onto the Management committee and progressed onto the Board of Executives. I chose to start with Aanchal because I wanted to work within an organisation that helped vulnerable women within cultures that had little or no help. I saw that Aanchal not only helped people emotionally, but practically too. So that they could become self-sufficient.
In my time with Aanchal, I have seen it evolve form service users also assisting in the day to day running of the organisation to qualified experts being employed and more services added to Aanchal such as 24 hour child helpline and different youth groups.
Martin Real – Trustee
Martin has been a solicitor at Bowling and Co. since 1996 and a partner since 2002. Martin is a Resolution accredited domestic violence law specialist. In the past Martin has worked for the NHS and is a qualified psychiatric nurse and knows too well the effects of domestic violence has on mental health.
Martin did some work supporting Haven House in the mid 1990s and was on their advisory board.
Since Martin started work at Bowling and Co back in 1996 he has worked very closely with Aanchal (long before they were an independent charity) and has as strong and very similar belief in their working ethos. Martin and Aanchal has worked together to rescue victims from abusive households for many years. Martin wanted to be a part of Aanchal’s development and growth and became an Aanchal trustee in 2011. Since his time in this role he has supported the CEO with the organisational Newham borough strategy and supported the charity to obtain their first property in the borough. This is now the main base for the One Stop Shop, the lead venue for all domestic and sexual violence cases.
Saba Butt – Chairperson, Board of Trustees
During my gap year after completing my undergraduate degree, I became a volunteer at Aanchal Women’s Aid in February 2011. Belonging to an Asian community, I am aware of the social issues that exist within the community and the hardships that many women have to face in the name of culture, honour and family values. I decided to join Aanchal Women’s Aid in order to be able to help such women. I joined Aanchal as a frontline volunteer advisor in the office as well as being a voluntary advisor on the out of hours’ emergency helpline for 2 years. In 2013, I joined the board of trustees as a Chairperson for Aanchal Women’s Aid while continuing to be a voluntary domestic violence advisor on the emergency helpline.
Neena Lall- Trustee
Neena Lall became a Trustee at Aanchal in 2013. Neena has been a head teacher at St Stephens primary school since 1999 and has played a key part in the success of the school reaching the highest rating in all ofsted reports. Neena believes that it is essential that children work in an atmosphere of high expectation and appropriate challenge where mutual respect encourages self-belief, excellence and enjoyment in all areas of school life and to ensure homes life is also able to encourage children’s development.
Neena and her committed staff have been working with Aanchal for a very long period of time referring many mothers to Aanhal services for support with domestic violence. Neena was very keen to work closely with the charity to ensure her staff are fully aware of the effects of domestic abuse and can proved on going support to families Aanchal staff are supporting.
Having over 16 years of knowledge in the education field Neena is supporting Aanchal to make key links with educational bodies to enable the charity to work with local schools to run preventative and awareness raising programmes. Neena is also supporting Aanchal to provide key and valuable training to teachers in the Newham borough.
Neena’s school also has a children centre with a midwifery group practice which Aanchal will soon be working with to support new/young mothers who are potentially victims of domestic abuse.
Lee Bennett- Trustee
CEO of Potent Communications, Lee Phanurat-Bennett matches high quality startups and established businesses with high value investors globally.He advises individuals and companies on business and communication strategies, including pitching, presentations, and public speaking.
Potent Communications services include Leadership, Teamwork, Motivation, Confidence, Stress Management and Cultural Intelligence.
Everything they do will help ensure that startups, entrepreneurs, and established businesses get traction with investors and potential clients.
Born in Africa, lived in India and grew up in London, Sudarshan set up Aanchal Women’s Aid in 1984, then called Apna Ghar as was decided by women who needed the specialist support.
Having experienced domestic abuse myself in the late 70’s, I can remember one moment in life when I just wanted to pick up the phone and make a call for help. There was nowhere apart from close family members, to whom I did not want to cause grief.
Honing in to the power of survival, my whole life thereon oozes with strength and faith in moving forward – always and continuously – never staying stagnant.
In a recent event, I was talking about empowerment and what it might mean to different people. It’s such a clichéd term – without clarity. For me empowerment is a state of being. It’s personal.
My strength and faith comes from numerous personal achievements and watching thousands of women over three decades, achieve their milestones.
Today, domestic abuse is not so hidden, you can pick up the phone and just dial. There’s a long list of support contacts across the whole of UK.
Today, my children and grandchildren are the evidence of my values and beliefs. They are my reward and they are with me because I carried on learning and living.
Aanchal Women’s Aid is a truly LIVING organisation. Aanchal is not just about Projects and Programmes and Services – She is here to ensure women are listened to. What is important is not How Much You Have but WHO YOU ARE.