The Charity CEO Podcast


Julie Bentley

CEO Samaritans: Learning, Leadership and Listening

“You don't need to have all the answers, you don't need to have solutions... you just need to be able to listen.”

Julie Bentley has been a charity CEO for over 18 years and has led some of the UK’s most well-known charities including Action for Children, Girlguiding, Family Planning Association and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Julie joined Samaritans as CEO in November 2020. She is currently also Vice Chair of NCVO (National Council of Voluntary Organisations).

Julie is a passionate advocate for the voices of those with lived experience being at the heart of a charity. She has a reputation for driving change and for the authenticity she brings to her leadership.

In 2014, she was named as Third Sector’s‘ Most Admired Charity CEO ’and appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. In 2019, she received The Charity Times Award for ‘Outstanding Individual Achievement ’and was voted one of the sector’s ‘Most Influential Leaders’.

‘Sisters and Brothers: Stories about the death of a sibling’ on Amazon:

Ep 9. Julie Bentley, CEO of Samaritans

Learning, Leadership and Listening

Julie Bentley is CEO of Samaritans, the suicide prevention charity.

In this episode, Julie shares life and leadership lessons, from being a post-lady early in her career, to how she grappled with the gremlins of Imposter Syndrome. She highlights key qualities of leadership: emotional intelligence, authenticity, resilience, humility, vulnerability and humour! - all of which she believes have been important through her own leadership journey.

We talk about the work of Samaritans: providing a place where someone is always available to listen, without judgement.

The Samaritans’ service delivery model is unique, as it is entirely volunteer run. With a vision of ensuring that fewer people die by suicide, Samaritans has over 17,000 trained ‘listening volunteers’ who respond to calls for help. Currently 1 in 5 callers to Samaritans are voicing concerns about the impact of COVID-19, indicating a significant risk to mental health from the pandemic.

We discuss Brew Monday, turning the third Monday in January (traditionally known as Blue Monday) into a campaign aimed at encouraging people to stay connected with a virtual cup of tea; particularly important as the UK is now in its 3rd full lockdown nationwide.

Julie also opens her heart about her brother Roy’s, death and talks about co-curating the book ‘Sisters and Brothers’, breaking taboos around talking about death, dying and bereavement.

This is a poignant, moving and inspirational start to our second Season.

Recorded December 2020.

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