Posted on: 4/12/2023

Living Our Values: Helen Soulsby’s Board Service


After working with Boards in my professional life for several years – including evaluating board effectiveness and securing NEDs & Chairs – it felt it was time to walk the walk as opposed to just talking the talk!

Recently, I was appointed to the Board of Advance, a sector-leading charity that works to support women affected by domestic violence and those in the criminal justice system. Growing up in a family that fostered vulnerable children for much of my childhood, I developed an understanding from an early age of the challenges that many families and children can experience. I marvel at the patience and kindness my parents afforded children, whether it was for weekend respite or stays of several months. Several of the children are still in touch with my mum – 40 years later – how powerful is that?  Compared to the support my parents provided children, my small step, becoming a Trustee of Advance, pales into insignificance – but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

The Chair and fellow trustees at Advance are an incredible group. This has become apparent just months into my journey with the charity, and I am excited about contributing to steering the organisation on its mission. Advance helps women who experience domestic abuse to be safe and take control of their lives. They also help women who have committed crime or are at risk of offending to break the cycle. Their approach is holistic and centred on the woman or girl. They develop a safety and support plan with her that responds to her and her children’s needs and enables her to recover from trauma and effects of the abuse.

It’s hard to learn the facts about abuse. Stats from Advance estimate 1.6 million women and girls from 16 to 75 years old experienced domestic abuse in the UK in the year ending March 2021. One in four women in England and Wales will suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime. Around three women a week commit suicide as a result of domestic violence. Fifty-three percent of women in prison report having experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse as a child compared to 22% of men

The reality is that the work of Advance and other charities and agencies supporting women and children is unfortunately needed more than ever. The real scale of domestic abuse is only now becoming apparent.  As a Board, we have developed a three year strategy, soon to be announced, that aims to balance the increasing needs of those affected with the needs of a growing organisation; ensuring we can continue to be more effective, deliver best practice governance, and ensure the sustainability of our life-saving and life-changing services. None of this can be done without the incredible stewardship of Chair Christine Losecaat and CEO Nicki Scordi and the whole team at Advance, and I’m proud to be a small part of that.


Helen Soulsby

Managing Director, Global Consulting