Meet the team

IfJ is made up of a diverse and dynamic team of dedicated trustees and staff, consistently striving to raise awareness on the vital role of intermediaries.

Our trustees bring invaluable skills, experience and knowledge to the board.

Our Trustees

Catherine O'Neill

Catherine O'Neill - Chair

As chair and a founder member of Intermediaries for Justice I have a firm belief in equality of access to justice for all.

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I am a registered intermediary in the justice system, a Speech and Language Therapist and an Arts Psychological Therapist. As a therapist I have worked with adults and children with communication needs and mental health issues, in a variety of settings including palliative care, acute mental health wards and day hospitals, schools and clinics.

I am a visiting lecturer on the Wellbeing Practitioner course at University of East London and have written for Jessica Kingsley publishers and Childsplay International on subjects related to mental health.

As chair and a founder member of Intermediaries for Justice I have a firm belief in equality of access to justice for all.

Alongside other IfJ trustees I have run conferences and seminars on subjects ranging from: Working with Defendants; Trauma in the CJS; Joined up working in CJS; Abuse and its many faces in the CJS and Vulnerability and Justice.

I have chaired and contributed to the writing of many Toolkits for The Advocates Gateway and currently run trainings for the police on communication to Achieve Best Evidence and on Trauma Informed Practice.

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Sharon Richardson - Secretary

Being a trustee for IfJ is absorbing, challenging and very worthwhile. I relish being involved with my colleagues in raising awareness of the needs of vulnerable people and supporting the work of intermediaries.

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From 2006 to 2016 I worked as an intermediary, combining the above skills with my professional knowledge of the needs and skills of vulnerable people with complex communication difficulties.    

My prior working life was within the fields of education (as a teacher), social services (as a foster carer) and as an independent consultant (managing a small business enterprise).

I bring a combination of these experiences with the need for integrity and honesty to my voluntary role as IfJ’s Secretary. I attempt to keep the ‘machine moving’ by putting in place the cogs that ensure the implementation of all the many creative and exciting ideas that are generated by both trustees and members.

Since the inception of IfJ, I have been involved in planning annual conferences which have brought together a wide variety of professionals allied to the Justice System, in a stimulating and learning environment.

I fervently believe that the work intermediaries do is an essential ingredient in building a just society where all people can access every aspect of the justice system in ways that are meaningful to them.

Being a trustee for IfJ is absorbing, challenging and very worthwhile. I relish being involved with my colleagues in raising awareness of the needs of vulnerable people and supporting the work of intermediaries.

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Robert Thomas - Treasurer

As treasurer I relish the challenge of applying for grants, in order to achieve IfJ’s aim – to raising awareness of the needs of vulnerable people in the justice system.

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I am an independent intermediary assisting defendants in the justice systems, criminal and family, having previously worked as a registered intermediary. I served on RIRT for two years on behalf of the South West Group and am a fluent Welsh speaker. 

I am a retired teacher having taught in the maintained and independent sectors both in this country and overseas for thirty five years. I have worked as a teacher and senior manager both in schools, sixth form college and in Further Education. The last ten years of my career were spent as senior manager in a medium sized mixed comprehensive school in the West Midlands, following which I took early retirement to return home to South Wales. In that capacity I served on a number of governing bodies and as trustee of an educational charity.

My main teaching subject was English and I have spent my career asking students throughout the ability range questions they can understand, which has been an outstanding preparation for my intermediary role.

One of the formative experiences of my early intermediary career was at the ‘Trauma’ conference in Wyboston where it was immediately clear that IfJ was making an invaluable contribution to our professional development.

I became an IfJ trustee in part because of the current and on-going great support that it gives to intermediaries. My early involvement as a trustee coincided with the release of the Victims’ Commissioner’s Review which gave me an insight into the work that needs to be done for intermediaries to develop as a profession.  

As treasurer I relish the challenge of accessing grants, in order to achieve IfJ’s aim – to raise awareness of the needs of vulnerable people in the justice system.

It is a very exciting and important time to be involved, and, whilst time consuming, it is one of the most satisfying experiences I have had in a long career.

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Anne-Marie Fallon - Membership secretary

Being IfJ membership secretary... allows me to see the vast range and breadth of experience and knowledge that the intermediary body has.

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I am a registered intermediary and a speech and language therapist working with children in Cumbria, the North West and the Midlands. I specialise in communication difficulties associated with autism, ADHD and learning disability. Until recently I lived in the Midlands and was an active member of that regional support group. Now that I have moved to Cumbria I am establishing links with new colleagues.

Being IfJ membership secretary and a member of the training / education committee allows me to see the vast range and breadth of experience and knowledge that the intermediary body has. IfJ has a role in developing a strong and robust profession which includes acknowledging and supporting the needs of its members and I am eager to develop information on the website dedicated to the emotional well being of intermediaries.

IfJ has a key position in raising awareness of the intermediary’s role with all the stakeholders and agencies we encounter; whether this be the police, courts, witness service or more widely eg education, social care agencies. I believe IfJ has the potential to be the go-to organisation to represent the needs of witnesses with vulnerabilities.

We are a rich community with a developing future.

 

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Esther Rumble

Esther Rumble

I believe that everyone has a voice - and that all of those voices should be heard and accepted as part of a fair trial. The work of IfJ feels key in upholding and promoting these values.

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I have been an intermediary for 10 years, and take cases with witnesses and defendants. I am based in Bath and work across the South of England and Wales. I am the Treasurer of the South West Regional Support Group. 

My professional background is as a Speech and Language Therapist, and I have worked for over 20 years with adults and young people who are autistic. And currently continue to work within the NHS as the Clinical Lead in a highly specialist service for adults seeking diagnostic assessment for autism.

I have day to day experience of communication breakdown, and of finding practical ways to make things make more sense. Perhaps as a result, I am determined that all communication should be clear and easy for everyone to understand, and want to make this happen as much as I can within the criminal justice system.   

I’m very proud to be one of IfJ’s trustees and as a visual artist and writer use these skills within the  Media and Website subcommittee, in order to share our key messages. 

Huge change has happened in the ten years I have been an Intermediary. I believe that everyone has a voice - and that all of those voices should be heard and accepted as part of a fair trial. The work of IfJ feels key in upholding and promoting these values. 

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Kate Blake

Kate Blake

As an IfJ trustee.... I see how diverse the range of work IfJ does, for intermediaries, other professionals and the wider public.

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I am a registered intermediary and speech and language therapist working with children in Yorkshire and the North East. I specialise in speech and language difficulties and Autism. 

Prior to becoming an intermediary, I worked to design and program websites with inmates in a men's prison; was vice Chair of governors for an outstanding primary school where I was part of the finance committee and school website development team. As a volunteer, I set up and led two girl guiding units and mentored new leaders.

As an IfJ trustee it has been fantastic to work on the development of the website.

It has shown me how diverse the range of work IfJ does, for intermediaries, other professionals and the wider public.

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Ann King

Ann King

It is a fundamental right that those with a disability ...should be able to take a full and active role within the Criminal Justice System (CJS). IfJ is a vital part of delivering this right by raising awareness of the role of intermediaries and supporting them in their work.

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I believe that it is a fundamental right that those with a disability or disadvantage (vulnerable adults and children) should be able to take a full and active role within the Criminal Justice System (CJS). IfJ is a vital part of delivering this right by raising awareness of the role of intermediaries and supporting them in their work.

I have been a Registered Intermediary since 2007. Previously I have worked as a Registered General Nurse (RGN) in oncology and palliative care. I practiced as a Health Visitor for 10 years; the work included supporting families in crisis.  I am a counsellor and have worked with young people for the Children Society.  My various professional roles prompted my interest in how practitioners make decisions, leading me to obtain an MA in Medical Law and Ethics. I continue to be concerned with how professionals facilitate autonomy in those they work with and feel IfJ makes an important contribution in this area.

I am a practising artist. In 2016 I coordinated and contributed to an exhibition at Plymouth Combined Court entitled ‘Justice: Let’s Face It’. The work centred around exploring the human experience of those involved in the CJS whether as a user or a professional.

I am a member of the IfJ Film Committee involved in producing films to raise awareness and inform both professionals & the wider public about the work of intermediaries and the needs of vulnerable people.

IfJ anticipate these films will be an ongoing information tool for all.

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Sue Osbond

Sue Osbond

As a trustee of IfJ .... I intend to play an active part in strengthening the intermediary support network so that our role can be developed and accorded the respect and support it deserves.

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I have been a registered intermediary since 2011 and work with teenagers and adults with a range of learning difficulties, including ASD, hearing impairment and acquired injuries.

My background is in Speech Language Therapy (SLT), originally in paediatrics, but during a time living abroad, I developed an interest in functional language, teaching and examining English at all levels, from primary to post-graduate. It was at this time that I had the painful personal experience of what it means to struggle to communicate freely in an unfamiliar environment. This belief that everyone’s voice is important and should be heard has stayed with me and informs my work as a RI.

On returning to the UK, I worked for a number of years in a special school for young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN), developing a program to embed language learning and support in the curriculum, as well as being responsible for the successful transition of the students to further education and/or the workplace.

Working as an intermediary, I am able to draw on my range of experience to understand the emotions and needs of witnesses, as well as applying strategies I have learned over the years.  I particularly enjoy the interaction with other professionals and the training sessions I have been asked to deliver.

As a new trustee of IfJ, it is exciting to work with such enthusiastic and dedicated colleagues, sharing ideas and innovations. I intend to play an active part to strengthen the registered intermediary support network so that our role can be developed and accorded the respect and support it deserves. 

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Our Staff

Ferne Brewster - Administrator

It is an exciting time to be part of IfJ; since becoming a charity in 2018 there has been great momentum in the development of IfJ’s strategic plan.

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As administrator I undertake a wide range of tasks, including overseeing the website and online communication, maintenance and development of administrative systems, supporting IfJ’s activities & events and assisting the Board of Trustees in their subcommittee projects. On a day to day basis I work closely with IfJ’s secretary.

With a professional background in healthcare and education, working as a self-employed acupuncturist in private practice and a teacher assistant in special needs school, communication skills, organization and problem-solving have been at the heart of what I do.

It is an exciting time to be part of IfJ; since becoming a charity in 2018 there has been great momentum in the development of IfJ’s strategic plan. I enjoy the interpersonal aspect of the work which includes communicating with end-users, professionals in the justice system and intermediaries.

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Alicia Fairbairn

Having worked within the legal advice/support sector, I have become increasingly passionate about working to ensure ‘vulnerable’ adults and young people have a voice – in all aspects of life and especially in the justice system.

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Having worked within the legal advice/support sector, I have become increasingly passionate about working to ensure ‘vulnerable’ adults and young people have a voice – in all aspects of life and especially in the justice system. IfJ is an active organisation that raises awareness of this fundamental gap in the legal system and I am proud to be a part of the charity's journey. I currently support and empower young teenagers and children with learning difficulties, autism and social & emotional mental health problems in a secondary school whilst working part-time for IfJ. Previous to this, I was a part of the Personal Support Unit's fundraising team - a legal charity based in the Royal Courts of Justice.  I now manage IfJ's social media platforms and am working on launching various fundraising campaigns in support of the charity and intermediaries nationwide. 

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External Advisers

Dame Joyce Plotnikoff

The communication skills of intermediaries help make the justice system fairer and more appropriate to the needs of children and vulnerable adults. I am proud to support Intermediaries for Justice in raising awareness of the intermediary’s contribution to increasing access to justice.

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I trained as a social worker in the UK, then was admitted to the Bar in the US. However, much of my career has been as a researcher and co-director of Lexicon Limited with Richard Woolfson. Our Ministry of Justice report recommending rollout of the pilot intermediary scheme was published in 2007. Our book about the scheme  ‘Intermediaries in the criminal justice system’ - based on registered intermediaries’ first-hand accounts - was published in 2015. We have drawn on the experience of intermediaries in several articles and in guidance including Advocates’ Gateway toolkits, Criminal Practice Directions and the Equal Treatment Bench Book.

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Dr Richard Woolfson

It has been a privilege to support the work of intermediaries since their introduction in 2004 and to assist Intermediaries for Justice in promoting their work.

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I am a mathematician and management consultant. Joyce and I have worked together for almost 30 years: our involvement with the intermediary scheme has been the most rewarding of our careers. In addition to promoting the benefits brought about by intermediaries in England and Wales, we have spoken about the scheme in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. However, in England and Wales the role is underfunded, unevenly available, insufficiently well-known and is still often misunderstood.

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