Smallwood Trust welcomes 2023 Board Shadowees

We are delighted to welcome our 2023 Board Shadowee cohort to the Smallwood Trust!

2023 marks the second year we have run our Board Shadowing Programme and welcomed women with lived experience onto our Trustee Board. Jessica, Anjum, Nikki and Rachel will spend the year shadowing Smallwood Trustee Dr Ambreen Shah and gain deep insight into what it means to be a Trustee, as well as developing the skills to further their own personal and professional goals.

Involving women, who identify closely with our mission of ending gendered poverty, within the governance of the Trust speaks more widely to our strategic goals of shifting power and equity, diversity and inclusion

You can learn more about each fantastic Board Shadowee below…

Jessica Stott

Jessica (she/her) lives in Bath and is a single parent of a 16-year-old and 3-year-old. Jessica works as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor with Southside.  Her work focuses in particular on post-separation abuse and how the law and the Family Court system is harnessed by some as a platform for abusive behaviour to continue. In addition to this, she volunteers with women who have experienced domestic violence in a similar capacity to ensure they are represented fairly and with dignity.

In her free time, Jessica is a keen forager of mushrooms and wild foods.

“Thank you for this opportunity, I’ve found the Smallwood team very supportive and inclusive! Ambreen and Paul have been so welcoming and approachable, explaining the processes and providing many opportunities for personal development.”

Anjum Sana Syed

Anjum (she/her) has a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology, is a Biotechnology graduate and worked as a Research Associate for a Contract Research Organisation. More recently she has done a number of IT courses with the intent to move to a career in this field.

After she moved from her home in India to the UK she suffered an abusive relationship over a number of years and has spent much time healing the trauma suffered as a result of this. With her lived expertise and understanding around violence against women, Anjum is keen to give back and support women who are facing similar challenges however possible and bring about positive impact.

“The Board Shadowing experience has been wonderful and it is interesting to learn how Trustee Boards actually work. The Programme has also given me an opportunity to share my experiences and made me feel heard. Smallwood’s work environment is amazing. Everyone is so kind, warm, welcoming and has made me feel at ease. This experience will also definitely help me progress in my career.”

Nikki Iyayi

Nikki (she/her) currently works for a menstrual equity non-profit based in England as an Operations Manager, with a focus on facilitating access for people less likely to afford period products. She has completed a BA in Politics with Human Rights, and is also a screenwriter using film as a conduit for social activism. 

“The trustee shadowing experience with the Smallwood Trust has been incredibly rewarding so far. I have had the opportunity to attend and feed into board meetings in a welcoming space that values my input, especially as I previously thought that I was not old/experienced enough to add value to a board. As an individual who already works in the non-profit sector, I have been interested in exploring what trustees do and bringing this strategic framework into my current ways of working.”

Rachel Brown

Rachel (she/her) is currently studying psychology with a particular interest in supporting survivors of domestic violence. Her own experience of being in an abusive relationship means she has first-hand knowledge of what is needed to rebuild a sense of self through counseling and a strong support system. Rachel aspires to provide the same support to women in the future and wants to use her experience as a Board Shadowee to learn more about charity governance, and pursue a Trustee role at a domestic violence organisation.

In her free time, Rachel enjoys trying out new knitting stitches, going out running, and spending time with her son.

“The board are clearly so passionate about the work they do, and it’s refreshing to know that there are Trustees who care about improving the lives of women. My image of a Board before joining Smallwood was that of a closed off group of people, and the programme has opened up a space that feels welcoming and truly values women’s lived experiences in its decision making.”


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