Our Team

Operations Team

Clare SmithCEO

Clare became CEO of Project MAMA following several years at a local, Bristol charity supporting vulnerable women in the indoor sex industry. Through developing the outreach and organisational infrastructure, Clare has been able to help the charity grow and expand the support it can offer to women who are often missed from conventional support systems. Clare’s focus has been on ensuring the women were at the heart of every conversation, that they could be supported to thrive and develop their own aspirations and healing journeys. Prior to this, Clare worked as a paralegal in the Structured Finance team at an international law firm, following a French masters in European Law in France. Since the birth of her son, Clare has been passionate about making informed and empowered births available to all mamas.

Azza MustafarAdvocacy Ambassador for Arabic Speakers

Azza is a community health and advocacy worker, as well as an experienced collaborative leader. She has supported asylum seeker and refugee women for 14 years. Her work is centred on working with multiple forms of violence against women and girls, particularly within African and Arab speaking communities. She has undertaken studies in Counselling which has given her an increased awareness of the challenging complexities of women living with trauma.

Esther DeeksService Coordinator

Esther joined the Project MAMA team as part of the Solidarity Care Packages Project in 2020 and has since been involved in many areas of our work. As Service Coordinator Esther works alongside our team within our Mother Companions Project and our drop-in MAMAhub. Esther comes from a background of working in migrant camps, involved on the ground with various grassroots organisations in Northern France since 2016, as part of emergency responses to the adverse conditions people face within this context. She studied International Migration and Ethnic Relations at Malmö University in Sweden with a specific focus on refugee law and asylum accommodation and support conditions in the UK. Driven by her passion for people, Esther is committed to supporting and standing in solidarity with those who experience hardship exacerbated through marginalisation.

Lydia GribbinOperations Coordinator

Lydia has worked within the charity sector since 2015. Having studied acting at Birmingham Theatre School, her background is one of performing arts and then event management. Since then she has supported charities of various sizes, in numerous capacities from fundraising and communications to programme management and strategy. Today she specialises in operations, equity diversity & inclusion, as well as campaigning for social justice. She is particularly passionate about removing barriers facing those from marginalised communities.

Etti CorbyFundraising and Communications Coordinator

Etti studied Anthropology at the University of Bristol, with a focus on migration and female community activism. She also has experience volunteering with organisations that support people from migrant backgrounds, such as STAR in Bristol and Echo100Plus in Greece. She joins Project MAMA having worked as a fundraiser for non-profit organisations since 2021. Etti is passionate about ensuring that all women have access to birth support, regardless of background or circumstance.

Samanta HaxhagiqiCommunity Hub Assistant

Graduating from the University for Foreign Languages: Shkoder, with a major in English, Samanta has since completed courses as an Albanian Community Interpreter, Counselling Skills and Forward’s Community Health Advocate Programme. Alongside her ProjectMAMA role as our MAMAhub Assistant, Samanta is also a trustee for Refugee Women of Bristol, and continues to volunteer as part of Bristol Refugee Rights Welcome Team. “Being a single mother in a different country without family and friends is very hard. As someone who has experienced it I always wanted to support all others mamas who have gone through the same journey. When I found out that there was a organisation called ProjectMAMA with this amazing cause I knew right away that I wanted to be apart of it.”

Veronica Lopes da SilvaMother Companions Coordinator

Veronica joined Project MAMA with a passion and commitment to offering trauma informed and person-centred perinatal support to those who may not otherwise access it – both as a doula who has worked independently with migrants and asylum seekers in Greece, as well as a volunteer with Birth Companions in London. This is combined with experience in advice giving, advocacy work, and volunteer management in migrant support organisations including UNITY centre, SOAS Detainee Support, Khora Athens, and South London Refugee Association. Veronica believes that everyone has the right to feel supported and respected during pregnancy, birth and postpartum, regardless of their backgrounds, finances, or immigration status, and she is honoured to recruit, train, and support Mother Companions in their work with clients at Project MAMA.

Wendy Cox Policy & Specialist Needs Advisor (Volunteer)

Wendy spent most of her working life in the NHS as a midwife, health visitor and counsellor. Wendy has demonstrable experience as a sexual health worker supporting people with HIV, including women with substance misuse issues and women working in the sex industry. Wendy more recently coordinated a bereavement service open to anyone who had lost a baby or child. She brings a profound understanding of the needs of vulnerable women to the role.

Chris Suffolk Admin Assistant (Volunteer)

Chris has a background in psychology and sustainable design. She has lived in and around Bristol for around 30 years. Her mother is Zambian and her father is British. Chris continues to work in sustainable design but after having two children, she decided she’d like to volunteer for a charity which supports woman during pregnancy, and the early stages of parenthood.


Asli Tatliadim Chair of Trustees

With Kurdish origins from Turkey, Asli has been working with minority communities including indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees since 2014. She is a human rights campaigner with experience of working in the frontlines, managing projects and delivering services. Previously, she focused on indigenous labour rights in Peru, child labour exploitation among displaced populations in Turkey and refugee support in the UK. Currently, Asli is a global campaigner for refugee and migrants’ rights at Amnesty International. She has an MSc in Anthropology from UCL and she is a mother of one.

Heeral Dave Treasurer

Heeral is passionate about social justice causes, she’s been working as a management consultant for 7 years, working with local government, central government and the charity sector, supporting on a variety of projects, from monitoring and evaluation, strategic reviews, to social care reform and implementation. She has supported childcare charities in London and Kenya, and previously worked with Children’s social care.

Ruthie Whincop

Ruthie is a Registered Midwife in Bristol with a huge passion for human rights in childbirth for all women and birthing people. Prior to re-training to become a midwife she worked in the charity sector in various roles and studied Sociology and Politics at Goldsmiths University. It was during her time at uni that she became passionate about refugee and asylum seeking people’s rights and was heavily involved in solidarity campaigns. Since being back in Bristol she has volunteered for Borderlands charity.

Beth Benedict Fundraising Trustee

Beth has worked in the social change sector for 13 years, beginning her career as a volunteer with Refugee Action in Plymouth. She went on to spend 8 years working internationally to support young people to realise their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and has held senior leadership roles in the UK and Zambia. Beth has led Comic Relief’s Government Partnerships team, delivering funding programmes on a range of issues in the UK and Africa, including women’s rights, ending violence against women and girls, and women’s leadership. She currently works as Head of Philanthrophic Partnerships at Global Greengrants Fund.

Angela Conway

Angela has worked as a named nurse for safeguarding children over the past 5 years both in Wiltshire and more recently joining a mental health trust in Cornwall. Safeguarding has been integral to her career over 20 plus years from working in a prison drug unit to health visiting. She is passionate about equality and high standards of services for all vulnerable families.

Julia Dixon Barrow

Julia has worked with refugees and migrants offering different support services in Bristol since graduating with a Postgraduate in Career Information, Advice and Guidance in 2012. Julia started her career offering Career Advice and Guidance within organisations supporting asylum seekers and refugees. She was inspired by individual stories, perseverance and determination and moved on to develop refugee support services from implementing strategy, managing projects supporting with integration, campaigning, and advocating for policy change. Since having two children, she noticed the disparity of support women receiving pre and post birth and passionate about change.

Catherine Jackson

Catherine is a solicitor with over 10 years’ experience of employment and immigration law, in both the private and charity sector. She graduated with an LLB from the University of Bristol and has a Masters in Human Rights from UCL. The child and grandchild of migrant mothers, she has volunteered for various organisations supporting refugees and migrants ever since university. She is herself a mother of two and brings her legal expertise as well as her passion for supporting other mothers to her role of trustee.

Josephine Whitaker-Yilmaz

Josephine has over a decade’s experience in the international development and humanitarian sector, in a range of campaigns, research, policy and advocacy roles. She spent the last 8 years working for Oxfam in Turkey, where she worked with refugee-led organisations and networks. She currently leads policy influencing and public affairs work at Praxis, a charity that supports migrants and refugees in crisis through provision of a range of services, including immigration advice and housing.

Mother Companions

Our incredible Mother Companions are the beginning and end of all our work. A huge thank you!

Abi Colgan, Abi Matthews, Alice Ritchie, Beth Frances Richardson, Charlotte Crowder-Cattier, Gail Daniel, Helena Whitwell, Jane Holder, Jessie Swingler, Kate Cellen-Jones, Kim Ives, Kim Mousley, Marion Cooper, Olivia Denman, Rachel Van Zyl, Rebecca Hunt, Ruth Holland, Soraia Torres Lage


Gabriella Wilde

Gabriella began working in fashion and film from 15 years old. working across the world on different projects in print, film and television from a young age. Gabriella said her hardest challenge was when she became a mother at 24, juggling work and raising her three children and states that becoming a mother being the most rewarding and difficult time of her life. Gabriella is currently raising her three boys in Somerset while intermittently studying psychotherapy and continuing her career in the film and fashion industries.

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