Samaritans appoints former Action for Children chief as its new CEO

Suicide prevention charity, Samaritans, has appointed the former chief of Action for Children and Girlguiding, Julie Bentley, as its new CEO.

The charity's announcement follows its decision to reverse the appointment of former Alzheimer's Society UK CEO, Jeremy Hughes, who was dismissed due to allegations of bullying.

Bentley will succeed Samaritans’ current CEO, Ruth Sutherland, who will be stepping down as CEO of Samaritans after five years in the post.

Bentley joins the charity in November from a short break, prior to which she held a number of high-profile charity leadership roles, notably CEO of Girlguiding, where she famously changed its Promise, so that members commit to 'develop my beliefs' rather than 'love my God'.

She was recognised for her 'inspirational' leadership style in the 2019 Charity Times Awards, when she won the award for Outstanding Individual Achievement. She was also recognised as one of the 25 most influential CEOs in the charity sector by Charity Times last year.

“I have long admired the work of Samaritans and it is a tremendous privilege to have been chosen for this role," Bentley said.

"I’m really excited to be joining colleagues; volunteers and staff across the Samaritans family. I also look forward to working in partnership with the many fabulous people and organisations who share a passion for addressing and responding to the significant mental health challenges we face as a society.”

She is currently joint vice chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and has held trustee roles at several other charities, including Shelter. Bentley also has an MBA from the Open University and is a mentor and coach to aspiring charity sector leaders.

Samaritans chair, Jenni McCartney said: “Julie’s wealth of experience in the third sector, particularly her experience within a charity with organisation-wide volunteer leadership, meant she was an exceptional choice, from a list of high-calibre candidates.

“As well as an outstanding professional career, Julie has a warm and engaging personality. We look forward to welcoming her to Samaritans.”

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