Who Are Family Friends?

Family Friends provide short term support to families who are facing difficult times and enable them to get back on their feet. Our help is free, confidential and open to any family living in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead with a child aged 0 – 13 years and up to 18 years for Armed Service families.

Family Friends is staffed by a team who are all passionate about helping families going through difficult times.

We also have a dedicated Board of Trustees who give up valuable time to make important decisions on behalf of Family Friends.  Some of them also directly support families.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our committed volunteers who come from all walks of life.

Together, we are Family Friends!


Meet The Team

Team photo 2016

Team Members


Chief Executive

Before joining family friends most of my professional experience was in the international charity sector, ranging from being a VSO Volunteer in Eritrea working with disabled war veterans to managing emergency healthcare projects in Central Africa and Afghanistan, to supporting communities to rebuild after conflict in West Africa.

More recently my work has involved delivering leadership development programmes and resilience training to organisations across the UK and providing 1:1 coaching support to individuals dealing with stress at work or in their home lives. This included providing resilience training to humanitarian aid workers and public sector professionals such as the police and staff in housing associations.

I am delighted to have joined Family Friends and to work with such a dynamic organisation that delivers so much support to families. Having worked all over the world I am particularly excited to be working within the Windsor and Maidenhead community, where I have lived for the past 10 years.

TracyService Lead
I am the longest serving member, having started in March 2004.  Formerly, I had spent three years working for Social Care, gaining invaluable experience working with children and families. My new role at Family Friends was the exciting opportunity I had been looking for, to further develop my skills.  It has been fantastic to see the organisation evolve.

AnnaFamily Support Worker, Children (0-18 years)
I have always been passionate about supporting children and young people.  Working at Family Friends gives me the opportunity to work with parents to help them feel more confident and empowered, which ultimately has a positive impact on the family unit.  I am thrilled to return following maternity leave, and am already actively using Family Support Worker skills to support local Forces Families.

Michele CookArmy Families Family Support Worker

My first involvement was for five years in 1995 as a Volunteer and member of the Management Committee. The next fifteen years were spent in Early Years Care & Education working with 0-5 year olds and their families. I was delighted to rejoin this professional and caring organisation in my current role with the new and exciting challenge of using my skills and expertise to support Service Children and their families.

Kerry BydeAdministrator

I joined Family Friends in July 2013, after spending 18 years with the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and 2 years in a local business environment. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be working for such a fantastic charity, and alongside dedicated, friendly colleagues.

Shahida Omarshah 1Family Support Worker

I joined Family Friends in February 2016 and will be working in the Asian Father and Families Project. I come with a variety of experience working in Women’s Aid, Housing Support, Youth Work and supporting children and families. I am looking forward to this new adventure helping fathers to build and develop their relationship with their children. It is an innovative project which aims to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and their families in a fun and positive way by developing parenting skills and engagement of families with schools and other services.

Sofia SattarFamily Support Worker
I have a background in early years care and education and for the past eighteen years have been working with children aged from 0-8 and their families across various settings. Much of my work has involved helping children to achieve and grow, supporting children with special educational needs, as well as developing effective parent relationships. My managerial role at Sure Start helped provide a better understanding of the important service Children’s Centres’ provide to families and the community. Gaining invaluable experience within Social Care strengthened this further and sparked a desire to contribute to parent support work. I am very passionate about children and family services and was drawn to Family Friends for this very reason. I am very excited to be part of the wonderful team that is Family Friends; working with this fantastic charity in helping to provide a valuable and rewarding service to children and families.

Katherine Cooke, Volunteer Coordinator

I was delighted to have been appointed Volunteer Coordinator for Family Friends in June this year and to have been made to feel like part of the team ever since. Before coming  to Windsor I have worked in the neighbouring Berkshire boroughs of Reading and Wokingham setting up family support services and empowering local communities in partnerships with primary, secondary schools and the NHS CAMHS team.  I continue to work with a team of researchers in Reading and together with UoR aim to maintain that empowerment factor through community projects such as “food 4 families”.  I hope to be able to continue the amazing work of the coordinators  before me and to use some of my existing skills not only to maintain our team  of amazing volunteers but to expand it so that we can support many more families in the borough.

James Nadal, public relations and fundraising executive

I started working for Family Friends in August 2017. I’m a journalist by trade, having worked in the profession for a decade before joining the charity as public relations and fundraising executive. I was a reporter and content editor with the Bucks Free Press, based in High Wycombe and Marlow, for nearly six years, before going to work for a publishing firm in West London, where I was deputy editor. I hope my experience in using social media will prove very useful in my role at Family Friends. This role marks a new chapter in my career and I’m now looking forward to boosting the profile of the charity to make more people aware of the great work we do.

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Meet The Trustees

Simon Foy 3
– I wanted to be part of Family Friends because it felt like it was my local charity that supported families in what I consider my own community. I have lived in Windsor for 27 years, and after 30 years in the police service, was looking for a way of making some contribution to an area that is my home. In my career as a police officer, I was able to see at first hand what a difference a strong family could make to the life of people who could otherwise have had a much more difficult and troubled existence. I was also lucky enough to be the head of profession within the police service for a group of officers know as ‘family liaison officers’, a remarkable group of people who did fantastic work with families in some of the most distressing and tragic circumstances. So Family Friends seemed to offer everything – local, working with people and making a difference, and supporting one of the most importance parts of our community and society. I have not been disapponted – great team, committed people and a real sense of purpose. It makes me feel that my commitment of time is worthwhile, really satisfying and important. Come and join us!

janet-roseI joined Family Friends in 2013 as a Trustee.  I am now retired, but as a Qualified Social Worker I spent many years working with families, children, young people and adults experiencing challenges including mental illness, substance misuse and abuse.  Family Friends is an established and effective organisation offering a valuable service to families locally.  I welcome the opportunity to be involved.

Helen Meanwell I joined Family Friends as a Volunteer in July 2013 and then as a trustee a couple of months later. I have had a high opinion of the organisation for many years and I am happy to be in a position to offer some of my time to them. Much of my career has been spent in teaching and I have a particular interest in young people with special educational needs. I have worked in primary and secondary schools in the local area and I currently work two days a week in a local primary school.

Eram Dodhy I joined wonderful Family Friends in October 2014 as a trustee, looking to help, support and contribute my management and people skills. For the past 13 years my husband and I have developed a successful medical business in both the UK and Denmark. Prior to that I worked for a number of organisations, in managerial roles, including Volvo UK, Motorola and British Airways. It seemed the right time of my life to join a charity and after researching many I came to respect and appreciate the services Family Friends offer to our community both in Windsor and Maidenhead and to which I can offer my knowledge and time.

Helga ZinkI have lived in Windsor since 2009 and from the beginning always wanted to be a part of the local community. After seining a very inviting volunteer recruitment advert in the local newspaper I knew straight away that Family Friends would be the right local charity for me. I started as a volunteer in 2013 and then soon after became a Trustee. I believe in giving back and helping others and Family Friends is really at the heart of this belief. Having the opportunity to be a Trustee for such an amazing charity is very rewarding and enjoyable. I look forward to supporting Family Friends in its very exciting present and future

George Fussey (1)Originally from East Yorkshire, I am a professional biologist and an avid Hull City fan.  I have been a Master at Eton College for just over thirty years and currently have managerial responsibility for career education.  I’m married to Heather and have two children, James and Virginia.  As Curator of the Eton College Natural History Museum I’ve been lucky to be involved in extensive outreach activities that the museum has run for families drawn from across the local area.  I know just how important support for families is in almost every area of life.  Serving as RBWM Councillor for Eton and Castle, I became aware of the vital role that Family Friends plays in the Royal Borough at what is a really testing time for many families.  Recently, I have hosted a couple of events for Family Friends at the College and the more I have found out about the charity the more I have become convinced that there is no more worthy cause to support.

richard-germainAfter 20 corporate years with an insurance company, including spells working overseas, I took a career change as a part-time furniture maker, part-time Dad.   I had experienced at first hand the value of similar support to that provided by Family Friends when our own family hit difficult times some years ago, and over time I have become increasingly keen to give something back.   I began volunteering in 2015 and have since worked with both families and groups.   I was asked to stand as a trustee also, and it really is a huge privilege to be able to support the great work done by this charity from both ends of the spectrum.

Quality Assurance

quality-assuranceAs recipients of this quality standard, you can be assured that Family Friends complies with relevant legislation.

Queen’s Award

queens awardWe are proud recipients of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.  This is a National Honour equivalent to the MBE.