Our people and how they work together.
Volunteers, staff and branches
There are 201 local Samaritans branches across the UK and Ireland and, in 2020, more than 20,000 people volunteered their time for Samaritans.
From April 2016, all branches have decided to either go through an incorporation process and affiliate to Samaritans Central Charity or to join Samaritans Central Charity (and no longer be a separate legal entity). Whichever structure they've chosen, this doesn't affect the services they offer. You can read more details about this in our Annual Report.
And Samaritans also employ staff who work with volunteers in areas from accounting to policy to social media to make sure we achieve our vision and mission.
Governance and leadership
Samaritans is a volunteer-led organisation. Keith Leslie, our Chair of trustees and a volunteer, works together with our CEO, Julie Bentley.
They are supported by the board of trustees, which has between 10 and 15 members, at least two thirds of whom are Samaritans.
Keith Leslie, Chair of Samaritans
Keith is Chair of Samaritans in the UK & Ireland and Chair of Mental Health at Work CIC.
His executive career was with Shell 1982-93 where he held a series of general manager roles, then as a Partner at McKinsey 1993–2006 and Deloitte 2006–17 where he served government clients on organisational improvement and leadership. He is the author of A Question of Leadership Bloomsbury 2021. He was previously Chair of the Mental Health Foundation 2014–20 and Chair of Build Africa 2010–15.
Julie Bentley, Samaritans CEO
Julie has been a charity CEO for over eighteen years and has led some of the UK’s most well-known charity names including Action for Children, Girlguiding, Family Planning Association and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Julie joined Samaritans as CEO in November 2020. She is currently Vice Chair of NCVO.
Julie began her career as a youth worker (after a stint of five years as a Post Person) and in the early 90’s worked in some of the most deprived parts of SE London, working with young drug users and those involved in crime. She began her leadership journey at a charity called Charterhouse-in-Southwark where she was first a Manager of the young people centre and then over the next six years progressed to Assistant Director.
Through her career Julie has earned a reputation for her passionate advocacy of the voices of those with lived experience being at the heart of a charity and for her commitment to meaningful equity and inclusion. She has a reputation for driving change and for the authenticity she brings to her leadership. At Girlguiding she created headlines when she described the century old charity as “the ultimate feminist organisation”.
In 2014, she was named by Third Sector as the ‘Most Admired Charity CEO’ and in the same year was a castaway for BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
In 2019, she was awarded The Charity Times Awards for ‘Outstanding Individual Achievement’ and was voted by Charity Times readers as one of the sector’s Most Influential Leaders.
Julie grew up in rural Essex and has recently returned there with her Partner Sean after 26 years of living in SE London.
In 2020 Julie co-curated a book on experiences of sibling loss following the death of her brother.
You can read the full details of Samaritans governance in our most recent Annual Report.