Lee Bennett Chair of Trustees
Lee has been working in the charity sector for 12 years and gained much experience whilst working with people with long-term neurological conditions at Headway Surrey. He is now CEO of The Brigitte Trust, a charity that provides emotional and practical support to people suffering life threatening illnesses.
He is passionate about empowering disadvantaged groups, alleviating social isolation and providing people with a voice and on a personal note has friends and family who have experienced mental and emotional health distress.
‘I am committed to providing my strong charity management skills to this wonderful organisation and highly skilled team of staff and volunteers.’
‘I am committed to developing services which enhance the lives of people in mental distress’
I have become a Trustee with Mary Frances having retired as a Senior Lecturer in social work, specialising in mental health, social policy and practice education. Prior to this, I held a variety of strategic management and service development roles in voluntary organisations and housing associations developing supported housing, court diversion and day services for people with mental health needs.
Apart from a commitment to improving wellbeing, I enjoy pottery, photography and glassmaking.
While I was a local Councillor representing Leatherhead North on Mole Valley District Council, I met one of my constituents, who told me he was suffering depression. I visited him in hospital and as a result became determined to improve services in our area. I joined a small group, which of course included Mary and Frances, and we set up the Leatherhead Clubhouse.
It was very exciting to see how the Clubhouse members grew and flourished with the support they received from staff and from each other. Some of them were able to move back into employment and all of them found new opportunities to exercise their talents.
Since then, the services people receive and the way they are treated by the statutory services have changed, mostly for the better, and, in turn, we have changed the services we offer, as you can see from this website, but we have retained the quality of what we do. For me, the priority is always that we treat the people we work with, with respect, and we enable them to make their own choices and decisions.
I am enormously proud of the Mary Frances Trust. Our staff have adapted to new circumstances with resourcefulness and skill. Our Board members have had to reinvent the Trust in a challenging financial climate, while never failing to be good humoured and positive at our regular meetings and in-between times. Long may the MFT flourish!
I am pleased to be part of the Mary Frances Trust as I share its values of respect and working with people to enable them to find their way forward.
I am aware that mental health issues can affect many of us and that it is not always easy for those experiencing them to get the help and support they need. The more I learn more about MFT, the more committed I am to helping to ensure that its important work continues and grows.
I work as an independent facilitator and trainer, mostly in the public sector, and I am also a part time Teaching Fellow in Healthcare Leadership and Service Improvement at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. My background is in the health service, as a senior manager of learning and development services in an NHS Trust. I really enjoy working with people to find more effective and enriching ways of living and working together.
Outside of work, I enjoy off-road cycling, running, knitting and catching up with friends and family.
Paul Matthews – Treasurer
Throughout a long career working in the Financial Services industry, including in the City of London and Canary Wharf, I have faced sometimes stressful challenges, and had to overcome anxieties, which have on occasions had a detrimental impact on my mental wellbeing. Through discussing my experiences with family and friends, I learned that mental ill health is far more prevalent than is generally acknowledged and that many of them too have encountered or witnessed others living through periods of mental distress.
I have also witnessed the often inconsistent and financially-constrained mental healthcare provision in this country, which can prolong the misery and suffering for people with mental health symptoms.
Consequently, I was very impressed by the tremendously valuable services and support provided by the Mary Frances Trust. I realised that by volunteering to the Trust my knowledge of finances, my enjoyment of working with people and my personal mental health experiences, I could play a small part in their great work and have a satisfaction of knowing that I would be helping to make a positive difference to the lives of others.
I am a season ticket holder at Harlequins, have an interest in classic cars and motorsport, enjoy meeting up with friends, going to the theatre and concerts, expanding my musical tastes and being with my wife and family.
I am very pleased to have been elected as a trustee of the Mary France Trust and hope that I can contribute to the valuable work done by the charity in supporting the mental wellbeing of local people.
I have lived in Surrey for over 30 years bringing up my family and working as a solicitor specialising in wills, probate, trusts, tax planning, powers of attorney and elderly client care.
Outside work I sing with Ashtead Choral Society, belong to a book club and enjoy concerts and the theatre with friends and family.