Passion for supporting families has motivated five new trustees to join the board at Home-Start UK.

The importance of childhood inspired Bushra Ahmed, Ray Ayivor, Sophie Castell, Naomi Dickson and Pearly Siffel to join the network, who all bring an impressive and wide range of skills to their volunteer roles.

Bushra Ahmed

I got to know of Home-Start UK when I started raising funds locally for them as a member of the local Mayor’s fundraising committee. Hearing of the amazing work Home-Start UK do, especially for families, really left a deep impression on me and I wanted to get involved, to see how I could help.” 

 Bushra is an experienced board trustee, business woman and community activist, with a wide cross-sector network, as well as over 20 years of experience in community engagement.

Bushra is Director at the Sheila Mckeknie Foundation, the Survivors Advisory Forum for the National Emergencies Trust and the Victim Care Improvement Forum at the Met Police, as well as being a Civic Futures Leader at the GLA.

Bushra is the founder of West Croydon Voice, set up after her family business was destroyed in the 2011 Riots, to fight for the victims’ rights to compensation. A public speaker, mentor and strategic consultant, Bushra uses her lived experience to advise on issues around diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness. 

Ray Ayivor

"Whilst providing support to a number of charitable causes, I developed an awareness of the challenges and issues children and their parents and guardians face in modern society. These range from the emotional, mental and physical, to the criminal. The effects of an adverse childhood are easily apparent in our society and institutions. The mission of Home Start is inspirational, and a necessity, if our children are to have childhoods they will not need to recover from. Nobody gets a second childhood and we need to do everything we can to make sure we get childhood right the first time. Home-Start seeks to ameliorate this situation by lending a capable helping hand.”

Ray is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and holds two Masters degrees in Change Management and Finance. He also holds a Diploma in Charity Accounting. Ray has been actively involved in charity and social action work in Africa and the UK for over 25 years.

His UK experience includes working for charities that have delivered services in the areas of adult and social care, international water and sanitation, mental health and youth and social action.

Having developed a keen interest in the role of the family setting in the development of the wider society, Ray is looking to make a meaningful contribution, to ensure that children have the best start in life and grow into adults who are actively engaged in the building of a stable and beneficial society.

Sophie Castell 

"As the mother of a child with additional needs, I understand that being a parent is not always easy. When my son was younger sometimes life could feel quite overwhelming.  The support that Home-Start volunteers provide, standing alongside parents, is a real lifeline. I am looking forward to helping grow and extend the impact of their inspirational work. I am hugely excited to be joining the Board of Home-Start UK, especially as we look forward to the 50th anniversary and as we develop the new strategic framework for the network.”

Sophie is Director of Customer and Brand Engagement at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, leading marketing and communications for the organisation. 

She started her career as a research scientist and holds a PhD in biochemistry.  Her career has spanned innovation, marketing, communications and fundraising, working for major international companies, including Coca-Cola and Unilever.

She has also run her own marketing consultancy practice. 

Sophie is passionate about social justice, diversity and inclusion and has served as a Non-Executive Director in the NHS and a trustee on a number of charity boards, including the National Autistic Society and, the Priory of St John/St John Ambulance.

She has been involved in setting up a new charity - the Enterprise Cooperative Trust – which aims to improve education and life opportunities for young people in her local community. 

Sophie has also served as the governor of a local special school. 


Naomi Dickson 

 “I came across Home Start when I was asked to present training on domestic abuse to my local Home Start in Barnet and I was really impressed by the work of the whole network and the way it supports families through trained volunteers. When the role of trustee came up I knew I wanted to get more involved and am delighted to have been appointed trustee.”

 Naomi became Chief Executive of Jewish Women’s Aid in 2014 and has supported the organisation through significant growth.

In addition to ensuring a high professional standard in augmented frontline services for Jewish women experiencing domestic abuse, she oversaw the expansion of the charity’s offer through the launch of the specialist Dina Sexual Violence Support Service in 2019. 

Naomi has been involved in Jewish Women’s Aid for 18 years, as a volunteer, and created their training programme to raise awareness in the Jewish community and empower rabbis and communal professionals to better identify and support women and children who are affected by domestic abuse.

She was a trustee of Women's Aid Federation of England for three years until 2021, a founder of the Faiths Against Domestic Abuse Coalition, and a Fellow of the Cambridge Senior Faith Leadership Programme.

Naomi was privileged to be named on the BBC’s global list of 100 inspiring and influential women in 2020.


Pearly Siffel 

Communities around UK continue to be impacted by the effect of the global pandemic. The volunteer-led services that Home Start brings to families could not be more crucial than they are today and in the years ahead. I feel fortunate that I can contribute my capabilities and experiences to support such an important cause.”

Pearly is a global strategy executive with over 16 years’ experience in professional services and financial services across Europe, the Middle East, Australia, North America, and the UK.

She is accomplished in opening up new markets, developing high-performing teams and driving organisational transformation to unleash growth.

Pearly is committed to helping underprivileged people improve their mental and physical well-being.

For several years, she was a committee member and volunteer with Dress for Success in Australia and the US, helping women thrive in work and life.

Additionally, for the last 20 months she’s provided strategic guidance and coaching for The Children’s Society in the UK, which supports abused children to build their confidence and well-being.