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Who we are

Find out more about the people involved in Unlock

Our staff

  • Justina Forristal Joint Interim CEO

    Justina Forristal has over 25 years’ fundraising and management experience in the charity and social enterprise sectors.

    She has raised more than £5million from trusts and foundations in a range of directly employed and consultancy roles, primarily supporting charities and social enterprises addressing social disadvantage.

  • Dr Jo Easton Joint interim CEO

    Jo leads Unlock’s policy and influencing work with a focus on reforming legislation and government policy, as well as advocating for better practice in key sectors in relation to the disclosure of criminal records.

    Jo joined Unlock in 2022 having worked in policy, communications and research roles for various charities in the justice and human rights sectors, including INQUEST, the Human Rights Clinic at Essex University, the Magistrates Association and the IMB/LO Secretariat. She has completed a PhD in Human Rights Law, which looked at the participation of bereaved families in investigations following deaths in custody and has been published as a book.  Jo is passionate about arguing for positive change in the law, policy and practice to make a real difference for people who are excluded or disadvantaged due to criminal records.

  • Sue Kent Operations and Finance Manager

    To support the team daily, Sue provides training and recruitment support, finance processing and reconciliations, and system support.

    Sue’s work has included implementing a new finance system and working with IT specialists to update our 365 environment. Sue’s time at Unlock follows a career spanning the civil service, the global corporate and charity worlds. As an experienced change manager Sue has championed customer/user-led developments and has been at the heart of making positive change happen. And as a volunteer, Sue’s supported people in prison and prison staff to open up the world of reading to others and helped people in her community to learn to read.

  • Debbie Sadler Head of Advice

    Debbie is responsible for delivering the core support that the charity provides to people with convictions. This includes overseeing the helpline, as well as our online support. She also manages our volunteer programme.

    Debbie joined Unlock in June 2013 having previously worked in healthcare management and retail. She has had experience of providing information and advice whilst volunteering at the St Giles Trust and the Citizens Advice Bureau. She also has a degree in Business Studies from Canterbury Christchurch University.

  • Anna Roberts Communications and Digital Manager (Maternity cover)

    Anna joined Unlock in February 2024 as maternity cover. She leads on communications and digital development to raise awareness of Unlock’s support, advice, campaigning and advocacy work.

    Anna has previously worked in communications for local and national charities and organisations in the early years, higher education, equality and diversity, and women and girls sector.

  • Brendan Shepherd Policy officer

    Brendan joined Unlock in January 2023 and is responsible for working on policy issues, campaigning and advocating for systemic change.

    Brendan has previously worked in both education (as a secondary school teacher and an education policy officer) and criminal justice (supporting people with criminal records as part of the Sheffield Activity Hub). Brendan has gained an insight into the barriers faced by those with criminal records through this work and is committed to working towards a society where stigma and unnecessary barriers do not hold people back.

  • Ellie Grudgings Policy officer (projects)

    Ellie is responsible for leading and developing Unlock’s project work, increasing access to employment and higher education for people with criminal records.

    Ellie joins Unlock following around ten years in the voluntary sector, where she’s focused on working alongside those impacted by the criminal justice system. Ellie has worked across a variety of disciplines; as a restorative justice facilitator, leading workshops in prisons, conducting research projects in the community, and advocating for people after custody.

  • Martin Houghton Fundraising Manager

    Martin joined Unlock in October 2023 and has a background in fundraising for charities whose work he believes passionately in.

    Having studied sociology at university and spent many years in the Education sector, Martin subsequently made the move to work in charity fundraising.

  • Doug Yarnton Helpline coordinator

    Doug is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the helpline, supporting our volunteers and maintaining the charity’s position as the go to place online for people with convictions.

    Doug manages a case load of more complex cases where he works to support individuals to challenge unfair treatment they are facing due to their criminal record. He also supports the information and advice that we provide online. Doug joined Unlock in December 2015 having previously worked in local government.

  • Chris Hoile Helpline advisor

    Chris deals with people who contact our helpline, assisting them to overcome the barriers of having a criminal record.

    He is the ‘ear to the ground’, providing evidence to our policy and advocacy team, so they can challenge employers and government to make changes which will make life for people with criminal records fairer.

    Chris joined Unlock in June 2022, having previously worked in the education sector. He has a passion to help people with criminal records and support them to move on positively with their lives.

  • Sohan Leahy Unlock training placement

    Sohan joins us for a 12-month training placement, during which he will work across the organisation including our helpline and policy teams.

    Sohan’s criminology degree gave him an understanding of how heavily the impact of a criminal record can weigh on someone throughout their lives – working at Unlock provides an opportunity to help people overcome some of the barriers facing them.

  • Ruth Davies Digital and communications manager

    Currently on maternity leave.

    Ruth implements Unlock’s digital strategy to ensure that we reach as many people as possible and help them to self-serve digitally. She also leads on communications.

    She is responsible for creating  communications that raise the voice and experiences of people with criminal records, increases awareness of Unlock’s work and supports our policy and influencing work to challenge the stigma and discrimination that people face.   

    Ruth joined Unlock in 2020. Prior to joining Unlock Ruth worked in the communications team at a UK-wide domestic abuse charity, and she started her career in a tech start-up.

Our President

  • Judge John Samuels KC Vice-president
    Judge John Samuels KC sat in the Crown Court for some 27 years, and was later a judicial member of the Parole Board for his maximum tenure of 10 years. He is President of Prisoners’ Education Trust; ...
    and, in addition to his role at Unlock, he is Vice President of AMIMB and Tempus Novo; and a Patron of Prisoners’ Advice Service. He previously chaired the Criminal Justice Alliance, and was a Trustee of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Our trustees

  • Faye Goldman Chair
    Faye is Head of Communications at The Health Foundation, where she works on an initiative to improve health and care in the UK. She has a background in charity communications, digital and campaigning, ...
    with previous roles at Gingerbread and Business in the Community. At Business in the Community she played a key role in the launch and ongoing success of the Ban the Box campaign – challenging employers to adopt fairer recruitment practices for people with criminal records -, and worked closely with Unlock during this time. Faye has particular interest in supporting people who are commonly stereotyped or stigmatised to have their voices and experiences heard and valued by the media, policy makers and service designers. Faye joined Unlock’s board of trustees in June 2018 and was elected as Chair in April 2024.
  • Leigh Hardy Vice-Chair
    Leigh is a consultant specializing in Board assurance, compliance and governance. Before becoming self-employed Leigh worked for 25 years in the NHS in roles relating to governance, compliance and ris ...
    k management. Leigh’s experience includes all aspects of quality governance and regulatory compliance. She has developed quality and improvement strategies in a number of different healthcare organisations. Leigh has a wide range of experience working with NHS Boards developing assurance frameworks, strategies, and associated risk registers and performance metrics. Leigh’s recent projects have included the development of a Board Assurance Framework and Corporate Risk Register, project management of preparations for regulatory assessment and independent investigations. Leigh also works with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the main NHS regulator, as a Specialist Advisor for Board level governance. Leigh has an MSc in Healthcare Governance (Distinction), from Loughborough University. Leigh joined Unlock’s board of trustees in June 2018 and was elected as Vice-Chair in April 2024.
  • Steve Lorber Trustee
    Steve is a solicitor specialising in employment law and workplace data privacy together with advice on charity law and governance. He believes recent data protection law can be used both to limit and ...
    challenge the use of criminal records in recruitment and to support those at risk of stigmatisation and exclusion from the labour market. With a wide legal experience, he previously spent eleven years working in a law centre seeking to provide access to justice for individuals and community groups in Islington. Previously a trustee of a charity providing shelter for rough sleepers and bereavement counselling to children, he is currently a trustee of Westminster Medical School Research Trust. He joined the board of Unlock in February 2020.
  • Hamish MacLellan Trustee
    Hamish has had a long career in financial services, specialising in European Equities, and has held senior positions at several US investment banks. He is currently in a senior role at an alternative ...
    asset manager that is a leading player in European Private Debt. Hamish has a passionate interest in supporting those caught up in the criminal justice system and is a trustee for a charity in the sector that delivers life and systems coaching into UK prisons. He holds a Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy from the London Business School and a BSc (Hons) in Statistics with Management Science Techniques from Cardiff University. Hamish joined Unlock’s board of trustees in May 2020.
  • Mandy Mahil Trustee
    Mandy’s personal experience of the criminal justice system convinced her of the need to support prisoners with greater access to information and opportunities for self-improvement. Upon her rele ...
    ase from prison, Mandy returned to full-time study and obtained a BA(Hons) degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) from King’s College London, where she also served as trustee for the Students’ Union (2016-17). Mandy maintains a particular interest in supporting BAME women in prison and victims of sexual assault. She works with a number of organisations to promote reform in the British criminal justice system and improve the prospects of people with criminal convictions. Mandy joined Unlock as a trustee in 2020
  • Tom Wheatley Trustee

    Tom started his career in the Prison Service in 1994 as a Prison Officer and became a Prison Governor in 2006. Since then, he has managed a range of different prisons in both the public and private sectors and has led the outsourcing of critical services in policing.

    Most of his career has been in long-term, high security prisons. Tom has acted as a trustee for the National Justice Museum and is currently a trustee of a charity that provides education programmes in schools to provide specific drug and alcohol education programmes to enable young people to lead safe and healthy lives. He holds a BSc in Behavioural Science and a PGDip in Applied Management from Henley Business School. Tom joined Unlock’s board of trustees in October 2022.

Our patrons

  • Bob Turney

    “As one of the founders of Unlock, I was delighted when I was asked to be a Patron of the Charity. It is doing splendid work in helping people to move beyond their pasts and create different lives.”

  • Professor Nick Hardwick

    “I am really pleased to have this opportunity to support Unlock whose work I have admired for a long time.

    We all sometimes need a chance to make a new start – and this is particularly true of former prisoners. It is in no-one’s interest to put unnecessary obstacles in their way of building a new productive and law-abiding life – it harms not just former prisoners themselves but their families and the communities of which they are part. Unlock has won praise for the work they have done to help prisoners make the transition through the prison gates and I am pleased to be able to support them.”

  • Kate Adie CBE DL

    “Unlock recognises that helping ex-prisoners lead normal and fulfilling lives, is beneficial for all. I’m particularly impressed by its practical and supportive approach.”

  • Professor Andrew Coyle CMG

    “Congratulations on the excellent work which you and your colleagues in Unlock continue to do. I have been a firm supporter since the early days when, what was then the National Association of Ex-offenders, was set up.

    It is essential that men and women who have been in prison and who have paid their debt to society should be helped to resettle into civil society. Who better to give them help to do so than those who have already trod that path. Unlock has provided support of this kind over the last 15 years and I value my role as a Patron.”

  • Flo Krause LLB

    “I wholly support Unlock’s aims and values. The work that Unlock has done so far in pushing for social rehabilitation of people coming out of prison is invaluable.

    I am thinking specifically about the bank accounts and insurance. I am also thinking about the work on the recent Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. I am proud to be associated with Unlock and all that it stands for and I hope that it continues to grow from strength to strength and continues to make the impact that is so needed on our society in terms of embracing rehabilitation.”

  • Dr Silvia Casale CMG
    “I am constantly impressed by the practical help a small but energetic organisation like Unlock has been able to provide to people in a wide variety of circumstances. Over the years it has been ...
    inspiring to meet many individuals who have turned their lives around and are making such a positive contribution to their communities with the help of Unlock.”
  • Dr Deborah Cheney

    “What can I say? There is SO much to comment upon about those in prison and those who have been in prison and are trying to recover their lives. Prison, by the very nature of how it operates, both undermines and ‘reduces’ people.

    Whatever the legislation states, whatever the Prison Rules decree, there is no doubt that the very nature of being imprisoned both diminishes the prisoner as a person and the families of those imprisoned. The fact that Unlock exists is a shame, it exists because when someone has served a sentence their lives may be blighted forever, any future they may envisage is corrupted. The very fact Unlock exists is a blessing, there is at least an organisation which may champion those who have been in prison and face such a future. Unlock believes that fate is not inevitable, nor is that societal labelling. Unlock challenges ordinary perceptions with examples. Who else would do it?”

  • Dr Shadd Maruna

    “It is an honour to be associated with Unlock — you are doing great work”

  • Jill Stevens

    “The real strength of Unlock is that it is not only run by people who understand the huge challenges faced by those with past convictions, but also that as an organisation it knows how to effectively bring those challenges to the attention of decision makers who can help.

    I have been impressed by the impeccable and compelling research done by Unlock, particularly in my area of expertise, personal finance. This research and resulting reports has provided robust and professional back-up to their various campaigns. Much of Unlock’s success undoubtedly stems from the strategy of working with government and private organisations to educate those influencers who have the power to change things for the better. I have seen the difference the organisation makes, both on a small scale to individuals and in the larger arena of communities and national understanding, and I am proud to be a patron of Unlock.”

  • Matt Hyde FRSA
    “People with convictions face so many obstacles to rebuild their lives – whether that be discrimination or lack of practical support. This does them a disservice and is damaging for wider ...
    society. Unlock is a brilliant charity because it works to remove these barriers creating a fairer and more inclusive society and I’m proud to be one of its Patrons.”
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord Garnier KC

    “Prisons are a secret world known only to those who work or are imprisoned within them. To the public on the outside it is far too often a matter of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Unlock is one of the vital metaphorical windows through which the public can see into the closed world of the prisoner and learn what is being done in their name,

    and through which the prisoner can see out into society and know that there is a place of hope and acceptance for him or her once they have completed their sentence. Unlock does invaluable work and without it Britain would be a poorer place.”

  • Baroness Helena Kennedy KC

    “I am so proud to be associated with Unlock. It is a terrific organisation. It does such important work supporting prisoners rebuild their lives on release from prison.

    It is often one of the the hardest parts of doing time – stepping back into a world fraught with challenges and negative judgements. I have seen first hand how my former clients needed help and Unlock was the answer.”

  • Dexter Dias KC

    Dexter Dias KC is a human rights barrister (King’s Counsel) who played a pivotal role in public inquiries including the Zahid Mubarek Inquiry.

    He won the TMG award for Outstanding Contribution to Advocacy and Justice and was finalist in Liberty and JUSTICE’s prestigious Human Rights Lawyer of the Year Award, nominated for “his outstanding commitment to the rule of law and justice for all; for his deep devotion to ensure that the voices of the weakest in society are heard.”

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