Board of trustees

The Board of Trustees determines policy and - together with staff - sets the direction for National Voices.

Helen Buckingham

Chair of Trustees

Helen has been Director of Strategy and Operations at the Nuffield Trust since June 2018. She has 25 years’ experience in NHS roles, including senior roles in national bodies, as well as in both commissioner and provider organisations. A finance professional by background, Helen’s past roles include Director of Strategy and Organisational Development in a mental health trust; PCT Chief Executive; Chief of Staff at Monitor; and most recently Director of Corporate Affairs at NHS Improvement.

Helen was appointed as the Chair of National Voices in December 2020, a role that enables her to continue her work supporting organisations to look at policies and practice through a truly person-centred lens, ensuring that people who use services are never seen as less important than those who deliver them.

Akiko Hart

Akiko is the newly appointed Chief Executive of the National Survivor User Network. She currently works at Mind in Camden, where she manages the Hearing Voice project. Akiko is Chair of ISPS UK, which advocates for social and psychological approaches to psychosis, and sits on the HVN England committee.

As part of her work for the English Hearing Voices Network, she co-wrote the Alternative Mental Health Act Review. Akiko is also on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Medical Humanities at Durham University, and has worked as the Director of Mental Health Europe

Clare Woodford

Clare has spent her career working in healthcare policy and volunteering for UK and global charities, including Carers UK and HelpAge International. She is passionately committed to increasing service user co-production, and eradicating inequalities in health and care services. She is currently Senior Policy Advisor at Macmillan Cancer Support where she leads on person-centred care, integration and system working.

Ed Holloway

Ed is the Executive Director of Services and Support at MS Society. Much of his career has been in research, organisational strategy and impact and now service provision. Ed is currently responsible for all of MS Society's services to people affected by MS across the UK, including their national services (helpline, information and financial support) as well as the services provided by their network of volunteer-led groups in communities across the country.

Ezra Ben-Yisrael

Ezra is the wellbeing and leadership development manager at the Turning Point Drugs, Alcohol and Wellbeing Service (DAWS). He has over 16 years to helping, supporting and empowering disadvantaged individuals through various mediums, both within a custodial and community settings.  He has lots of experience in influencing culture change and improving wellbeing. Over the last three years, he has facilitated over eighty training workshops and webinars for various teams and organisations. 

Harry Evans

Harry is a senior programme lead in NHS England and Improvement. Prior to that, Harry spent six years as a health and care policy researcher at Ipsos MORI and the King’s Fund. He has published several reports about population health, data and digital health and care. He works closely with NHS and local authority organisations to improve their use of data for population health purposes. Harry is on the Understanding Patient Data steering group, which promotes better communication and engagement on patient data. He also sits on the CLOSER UK advisory group, which advocates for cohort and longitudinal studies in the social sciences.

Kalu Obuka

Kalu works for the NHS in Southwest London. He likes listening to people’s stories, and enjoys working with people to think through problems and collaborate on solutions. He seeks to amplify the voices of people who are excluded or easily ignored. His commitment is driven by his Lived Experience; he was a young carer when his mother fell ill. Although her health has since improved, Kalu and his siblings still support her to navigate a health and care system that isn’t always able to listen to her or meet her needs.

Noha Al Afifi

Noha is the Director of Fundraising & Communications at Arthritis Action. She has over 18 years’ experience in marketing, communications, and public relations in a variety of industries, and has focused on the health and charity sectors for the past nine years. She previously worked for a former UK health minister as part of the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), promoting healthcare policies serving the UK population and the rest of the globe. Noha is passionate about translating complex health messages to the public, and is keen to further National Voices’ agenda of promoting person-centred care nationwide.

Rick Borges


Rick Borges is the Director, Assessment (UK and International) at the Financial Services Culture Board (FSCB, previously the Banking Standards Board) and member of its Executive Committee. He has senior responsibility for the FSCB assessment of culture, behaviour and competence across member banks and building societies and other firms outside membership in the UK and abroad.

Rick previously worked at the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care where he was responsible for a programme to improve standards of behaviour and competence of healthcare practitioners. He also acted as an advisor on professional standards and regulation to other organisations, including the Press Recognition Panel (set up following the Leveson Inquiry), the Department for Education, the Government of Ontario (Canada) and the administration of Hong Kong. He started his career at the Department of Health, in the Private Office of a Minister of State, then worked for the National Information Governance Board for Health and Social Care, and in the Private Office of the Director General for NHS Informatics.

Rick has a master's in law (LLM) and a postgraduate diploma in law in the UK.

Sherone Phillips

Sherone is a senior manager in NHS England and NHS Improvement national Palliative and End of Life Care programme which is part of the Personalised Care Group. Her role before that involved working with people with lived experience of complex health and care needs to be skilled contributors in health and care coproduction and codesign. Sherone also has significant experience of the voluntary sector when working as operational and service lead in a local disabled persons user led organisation with charitable status. Before that, in a local authority, she had various quality improvement roles as well as change management focus in supporting the implementation of personalisation in social care. Sherone is foremost a carer, a role which began when she was 12 years old.