Birthrights was founded in 2013 by human rights barrister, Elizabeth Prochaska, and Rebecca Schiller, a doula and writer on birth, parenting and women’s rights. Our work is overseen by our expert board, including senior health professionals, policy-makers, people with lived experience and lawyers. We currently have nine members of part-time staff.
Amy Gibbs has been Chief Executive of Birthrights since 2018, building on over a decade of policy advocacy and campaigning to tackle health inequalities and champion human rights. Her career has spanned national charities, local government and Parliament, leading teams and organisations to secure legal, policy and practice change for adults and children facing disadvantage and discrimination. Amy was previously a Director of Unicef UK and The Children’s Society, and policy and campaigns lead for Mind. She has strong expertise and networks in local commissioning, as a former elected councillor and Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Services and current Chair of Tower Hamlets Together, the integrated health and care partnership. She has also been Vice-Chair of East End Citizens Advice Bureau and Governor of East London Mental Health Foundation Trust. When not working for Birthrights, she is kept on her toes by her two lively little boys!
Amy is responsible for organisational leadership, strategy, fundraising and inclusion.
Maria Booker is a project management and policy professional having run high profile projects in Government and more recently in the maternity sphere. Maria was previously UK General Manager of Maternity Neighbourhood (a US based, midwife-led company developing a woman-centred electronic maternity record). Maria also led the development of the website Which? Birth Choice for Which? to its launch in 2014. Prior to that Maria had a diverse 11 year career in the Department for Business and also studied for an MBA during that time. Maria has two school age children and has until recently was Chair of her local Maternity Voices Partnership for 4 years.
Maria leads the Birthrights policy and legal hub, and also manages our training for healthcare professionals and peer supporters.
Francesca Treadaway is a senior communications and external affairs professional with over 7 years’ experience in the charity sector. Prior to joining the Birthrights team, she led on communications, campaigns (on subjects such as Brexit, music and arts education and copyright) and government and sector relations at the Incorporated Society of Musicians. She is also the author of the ISM’s flagship reports Dignity at Work and Dignity in Study, which revealed large-scale discrimination and sexual harassment of musicians in a range of settings. She has also spoken at conferences, festivals and events UK-wide about gender equality and mental health.
In September 2020, Francesca became chair of her local Maternity Voices Partnership after giving birth to her first child only three months prior. Her current focuses are the service user journey, postnatal care and informed consent. She is also currently contributing to the pan-London review of maternity services as part of the Ockenden Review. She joins Birthrights with lived experience and the drive to make a difference for all women and birthing people.
Research and Partnerships Officer
Rebecca Brione is a bioethicist and public policy expert. When not working for Birthrights, she carries out research on reproductive justice and autonomy, on her own and with academic partners. Rebecca has completed a MA in Bioethics and Medical Law and is a postgraduate associate of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies and a member of the AHRC network Risks of Childbirth in Historical Perspective and the inter-disciplinary Perceptions of Pregnancy network. Until recently she was Vice-Chair of her local Maternity Voices Partnership , and monitored care and decency for women in prison as member of the Independent Monitoring Board for HMP Downview. Prior to moving into maternity work, Rebecca had a ten year career in UK and EU policy and legislation in the Civil Service.
Rebecca oversees Birthrights’ research programme and partnerships, with a particular focus on multiple disadvantage, mental capacity and disability. She carried out the research on the experiences of women facing multiple disadvantage in partnership with Birth Companions. She also works on wider policy projects as part of our policy and legal hub.
Johanna has worked with Human Rights Law for over 20 years. Called to the Bar in 2000, Johanna spent 9 years as a practising barrister, focusing on cases involving asylum and human rights law, family law, and survivors of coercion and abuse. in 2009 she gave birth to her son and was profoundly affected by the excellent maternity care that she received. She turned her attention to maternity rights and co-founded a maternity advocacy group at a grassroots level in Yorkshire.
Johanna feels passionately about ensuring rights-based, dignified, maternity and health care is offered to everyone. Johanna joined Birthrights as a volunteer in 2014 and has been an Associate Trainer for Birthrights from 2015. Jo has recently formally joined the staff team as Advice line officer, providing advice to individual and healthcare professionals who contact our advice line.
Outside of Birthrights, Johanna is a qualified breastfeeding counsellor with La Leche League, she spent six years on the board of LLLGB and was recently elected to the Great Britain seat on the board of La Leche League International. She is also a trustee for the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.
Reema has over seven years’ experience in the cancer charity sector. She most recently was a Cancer Support Specialist at Maggie’s at the Royal Free, offering emotional support to people affected by cancer. She previously worked in the NHS and other health organisations including the Health Research Authority in the Department of Health, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Wellbeing Service, Moving Minds Psychological Management Rehabilitation, and Children’s Services. She also volunteered as a Research Assistant at the London Art Therapy Centre to pursue her interest in this field of work. Her health psychology background began when she studied MSc. Health Psychology at City University in 2008 and achieved a Distinction in 2009.
Birthrights is an organisation that is close to Reema’s heart, as she experienced some tough times post-birth and therefore wanted to make a difference by helping others in similar situations. When she is not working, she is busy entertaining her little girl and loves every minute of it.
Reema manages the operational and administrative work of Birthrights.
Saras Arulampalam has experience working in the charity sector and a background in law. She previously worked for the British Red Cross, where she managed a project which included developing and delivering training for casework volunteers. Most recently, she worked for Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid as a domestic violence advocate based in a hospital. Her role included designing and delivering training to healthcare professionals, to enable them to identify and effectively respond to disclosures of domestic abuse. Saras has also worked as a legal caseworker in immigration and has an LLM in international law.
Saras has recently joined Birthrights as a training officer. She is passionate about ensuring that everyone gets rights-based and person-centred care and believes in supporting healthcare professionals and other birth workers to ensure that this is delivered.
Melissa Brown is a practicing midwife with 6 years experience working in the NHS. She has worked in a number of inner London Trusts and with many diverse communities. She has an interest in politics, race and female advocacy, writing her dissertation on the health disparities amongst Black and Ethnic Minorities. It was this interest and a desire to see a maternity service that is more responsive to the people it serves that led her to come to work for Birthrights in the role of Participation Officer. The role integrates her passion for reaching marginalised communities and creating opportunities for the empowerment of birthing people by providing support and education. When Melissa is not working she is busy raising her two daughters and also enjoys literature, cooking and strength training!
Communications and Fundraising Coordinator
Sydney Kirton is currently a part-time master’s student in Creative Writing at Brunel University. She has acquired experience in Public Relations through the Taylor Bennet Mentoring Programme. This was an important opportunity for Sydney, as a woman of colour, as only 1 in 10 BAME work in PR. She continued to develop her communications training by reaching out to small businesses. Sydney has recently helped Baller Boys Books, a diverse children’s book and Scootasoot, a small outerwear clothing company. She re-imaged their brands on social media and promoted their products in blogs, magazines and the press.
Sydney has recently joined Birthrights, on a six-month Kickstart placement to help with communications and fundraising. She is keen to develop her identity in PR during this placement and wants to maintain an involvement in the charity sector. As a woman of colour, she feels this is an important cause to support and publicise.