Samaritans appoints Julie Bentley as its next chief executive

The former Action for Children chief replaces Jeremy Hughes, whose appointment was dropped earlier this year, as the successor to Ruth Sutherland

Julie Bentley
Julie Bentley

The suicide prevention charity Samaritans has appointed Julie Bentley as its next chief executive. 

Bentley, who stepped down from the top job at Action for Children in February for personal reasons after 18 months in the role, will succeed Ruth Sutherland in November. 

Samaritans originally selected Jeremy Hughes as Sutherland’s successor but abandoned the appointment after newspaper reports that he displayed bullying behaviour during his time at the Alzheimer’s Society.

Before joining Action for Children, Bentley spent six years as chief executive of Girlguiding. She previously led the sexual health charity the Family Planning Association and the personal safety charity the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. 

Bentley, who is joint vice-chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, was voted Britain’s Most Admired Charity Chief Executive by readers of Third Sector in 2014. 

Jenni McCartney, chair of Samaritans, said: “Julie’s wealth of experience in the third sector, particularly her experience within a charity with organisation-wide volunteer leadership, meant she was an exceptional choice, from a list of high-calibre candidates.

“As well as an outstanding professional career, Julie has a warm and engaging personality. “We look forward to welcoming her to Samaritans.”

Bentley said: “I have long admired the work of Samaritans and it is a tremendous privilege to have been chosen for this role. 

“I’m really excited to be joining colleagues, volunteers and staff, across the Samaritans family. I also look forward to working in partnership with the many fabulous people and organisations who share a passion for addressing and responding to the significant mental health challenges we face as a society.”

Sutherland will step down in November after five years in the role.

She was originally going to leave at the end of April but a spokeswoman said that because of the "uniquely challenging situation we found ourselves in" and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Sutherland decided to stay for an additional six months.

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