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Our Board of Trustees

Valerie Michie


Valerie is CEO of Choice Care Group, a community provider of residential and supported living services for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions.

Before joining Choice, Valerie was CEO of the Huntercombe Group, a hospital provider focused on brain injury and mental health. Prior to that she had leadership roles at Serco and Alfred McAlpine following a varied consulting and accounting career with KPMG.

Previously Valerie was Trustee and Chair of the audit committee of PRIME, The Princes Initiative for Mature Enterprise.

Dr Susan Cottam


Susan is a Clinical Psychologist employed by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust since 2011. She works at Camden MOSAIC CAMHS, a community service for children with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions.

Her clinical role involves supporting parents, families and children in the ongoing task of adjustment to neurodisability, and supporting the skills development required to live with neurodisability. She is interested in parenting, the development of the attachment process between parents and children, the parent couple relationship and the way in which parents adapt to the experience of grief and loss. She has a special interest in supporting the management of behaviours of concern and sleep to improve child and family wellbeing. Susan has published research in peer reviewed journals on parenting training programmes, positive behaviour support and also the subjective experience of hearing voices.

Susan volunteered as a Samaritan for several years in the run up to professional qualification and is committed to supporting those who feel suicidal or hopeless.

Frank Cunnane


Frank’s engagement with TLP was largely out of personal experience of family loss through suicide and an interest in supporting TLP and the vitally important services it provides to the community.

He has worked in IT for most of his career. For the last ten years he has worked for a global media and entertainment company as regional CIO and global head of content management systems. Prior to that Frank worked for the parent company a Japanese consumer electronics company for over thirteen years as regional CIO for Europe and North America. During his career, he worked for several multinational organisations across various industry sectors with assignments taking him across the globe.

Frank is also a Governor on the board of the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, as well a Trustee for Salisbury Hospice Care Trust.

Tanaka Chiimba


Tanaka has 15 years of management consulting experience. After qualifying as a chartered accountant with Deloitte and Touche, she entered consulting at McKinsey and Company where she spent seven years serving leaders of energy, infrastructure and public sector institutions (education and tax administration) across a broad range of topics.

After leaving McKinsey, Tanaka successfully founded a professional services firm which comprised of four divisions: consulting, people (training and outsourcing), technology and engineering which, when she left five years later, had grown into a £10 million enterprise with over 100 staff.

Helen McKenna


Helen works in the NHS as Chief of Staff to the Chair in Common of Barts Health NHS Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. Her previous roles have included Senior Fellow at health policy think tank The King’s Fund; Principal Policy Adviser at Which? and various policy and communications roles at the Department of Health and Social Care.

Helen applied to be a trustee at TLP as she was concerned about the current lack of statutory support for people struggling with suicidal feelings. She hopes to be able to offer her understanding and experience of working in the wider health sector to the Board and to support the charity in the crucial role it plays for so many who feel that life is no longer worth living.

Alex Winter


Alex is secretary to the Board. He is a psychoanalyst and a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He works on the clinical staff at Camden Psychotherapy Unit, the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis and in private practice. He has in the past been a volunteer at both Samaritans and The Listening Place.

Stuart Blieschke


Stuart’s background is in finance and he has worked as an investment professional for a number of international financial institutions in Asia and the UK including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Pacific Alliance Group, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse. He is also the founder of London based Curatic Capital Limited. He is Australian by background, and relocated to the UK after fifteen years in Hong Kong.

Stuart has held various directorships and is currently a director of various private investment entities. He is a Chartered Accountant, former member of the Australian Restructuring, Insolvency & Turnaround Association (ARITA) and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Flinders University of South Australia.

Stuart served as a Listening Volunteer at The Listening Place from 2019 to 2022. Having seen first-hand the amazing work of everyone at The Listening Place and the impact its vision and mission has on the lives of those who may feel life is not worth living, Stuart sees TLP not only as a highly valuable service but an absolutely necessary one in our community, especially in these challenging times.

Sonia Inniss


Sonia is the Managing Consultant of Consultants at Work where she has led multiple change projects across several professional services firms in the city of London, in the insurance and banking sectors in London and the Channel Islands and within Further and Higher Education in Scotland and England. The focus of her work always is with the leadership of organizations as they address the challenges to adapt and develop, which are posed by their clients and communities.

Before undertaking a Masters degree in the Business School of the University of Bath, the formative years of her professional development were spent working in adult outpatient psychotherapy settings in individual and group work following her clinical training.

Sonia served for eight years as a Governor of Lewisham College, becoming its Vice Chair, leading its Human Resources Committee and being a member of the Audit Committee.

Caroline Lien


Caroline is an independent management consultant, primarily working with purpose-led organisations in health, social care and a range of charities. Prior to working independently, Caroline was Operations Director and Strategy Director at Comic Relief where she led many years of Red Nose Day and Sport Relief campaigns.

She is currently Vice Chair of Imperial Health Charity (which has a large volunteering service), and Trustee of the Talent Fund. She was previously a Samaritans volunteer and a community volunteer for NCT where she strove to improve women’s mental health through social connections.

Phalisha Kerai


Phalisha currently advises on Prison Safety Policy, specifically looking at suicide and self-harm prevention. Prior to this, she has worked in the Cabinet Office, with a focus on improving diversity and inclusion and before then, she worked for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Phalisha has been volunteering at The Listening Place since April 2019 and is both a supervising and listening volunteer. During this time, Phalisha has seen the positive impact that is made from having a safe space to talk openly about suicidal thoughts and she is passionate about the work that TLP does to support people during these immensely difficult times.

Craig Morley


Craig was Co-founder and Chief Executive of The Challenge, a leading UK youth charity and COO at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. He is a trained accountant and strategy consultant, having worked for P&G, Marakon Consulting and Rio Tinto. He is a listening volunteer at The Listening Place.


Sarah Anderson CBE


Sarah set up The Listening Place in July 2016, having recognised the gap in statutory services.  She was a volunteer at Central London Samaritans for 37 years, during which time she spent 3 years as Director.  She has been running The Listening Place as the unpaid CEO ever since!

Sarah has worked in the private sector, public sector and now the third sector: having originally worked in HR in a large private sector company, Sarah has run a number of businesses and social enterprises in the past, as well as being a NED for many businesses in the commercial sector.

Previously, a Public Appointments Assessor, where she chaired the recruitment for Chairs of Public Bodies for many Government Departments; she was also a Commissioner for the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and ACAS and a non-executive director of JobCentre Plus.  She was the author of The Anderson Review for Government.  She used to chair the SME Council of the CBI, where she sat on the President’s Committee.

The only roles outside The Listening Place that she now holds are as a member of the State Honours Committee; as a Chair of Judges for the annual Everywoman awards for women running their own businesses and as lay advisor to the Independent Investigation into discrimination in the Conservative Party.