Barbara Conridge – Chair of Trustees
A Befriender since 2006 and a Trustee since 2010, I have been Chair of Trustees since November 2014 – a considerable responsibility and commitment. YWB has grown and prospered in recent years, and I feel very privileged to have played some part in this, as our work is still very much needed. Visiting and supporting the women in Yarl’s Wood is, I am sure, still the most important thing I do. I live in Bedford, where I spent most of my career as an Education Consultant.
I have been a Befriender since retiring from teaching in 2010 and have since been privileged to visit some very brave women. A French speaker, I often visit women with limited English from French-speaking parts of Africa. I have been a Trustee since 2012, fulfilling the role of fund-raiser for five of these before passing that particular baton to a staff team. Involvement in planning and decision-making for YWB is satisfying, as is attending the quarterly meetings at the Centre – this allows an insight and, I hope, some input on behalf of the detainees into how the IRC is run.
A fairly new Trustee of YWB, I am learning a great deal about the organisation, the Centre and the women who are detained there; I am hoping to become more involved with the drop-in at Yarl’s Wood. Originally a school teacher, I then went on to work in the areas of mental health and learning difficulties. Throughout my career I have come to understand the importance of listening to other people and hearing their personal stories. I hope I will be able to put these skills into practice in my ongoing involvement with YWB.
A retired senior nurse and Palliative Care Services Manager for Sue Ryder and a long-standing and active Soroptimist, I am passionate about the rights of women and girls. After answering an advert about YWB training, I was so impressed that I soon became a Befriender. Prior to this I was Chair of Bedfordshire Against Modern Slavery and worked closely with Beds Police and other organisations to raise awareness of this crime. Once Beds Police employed a designated co-ordinator for the role, our job was largely done and a new challenge was required. I decided that the role of Trustee at YWB may be just that, and I now look forward to working with the other trustees in this very worthy charity.
I have been befriending since the beginning of 2018 alongside my work as a freelance editor. Visiting women in Yarl’s Wood has been both rewarding and enlightening, and I have enjoyed using my knowledge of other languages to communicate with women who have little English. I have become a trustee in the hope that my previous role as the CEO of a charity will help me to support the staff and volunteers of YWB. Their unfailing commitment fills me with admiration.
I retired from teaching children with severe learning difficulties two years ago, to further indulge my passion for travel. Looking for volunteer work at home, my on the ground involvement with projects in Malawi, and my experience and interest in the lives of people from different cultures led me to Yarl's Wood Befrienders, which has been the perfect fit. I've met some amazing women who have taught me a lot. I have only just become a trustee, and I look forward to developing my role within YWB and working with the talented people in the organisation, to further help the remarkable women detained in the IRC.