About us

We want to campaign for children and young people in the middle of parental separation and provide to them support through a dedicated website, mobile app and associated resources for parents.

In 2015, the Ministry of Justice setup the Voice of the Child Task Force which concluded the need for “an authoratative website and online tools developed in collaboration with young people… for all children and young people at all stages of their parental separation journey”.

We have been building our campaign and support to answer this call!

So far, we have:

  • Set up a Young People’s Steering Group, who are at the heart of co-creating our campaign, digital service and resources.
  • Gained the support of over 300 family lawyers, mediators and barristers including partnerships with some of the biggest law firms in the UK
  • Reached over 15,800 children and young people through our website and enabled many of them to share their stories – this is the first time many of them have ever been asked and is of great value to others.
  • Spoken at events and conferences including at the WHY Festival in October 2016 about what it is like not to be listened to. Then we asked a poet to put their feelings into a poem, When you Shouted.

Our Team

Martin Desborough (Project Manager)
Current CEO of The Family Initiative and previous Head of Operations at the Family Matters Institute. Has developed and led national services for families and young people, including being funded by Government to run innovation projects that have supported over 2.5 million families during parental separation and relationship breakdown. Holds Safeguarding Children, PRINCE2 Project Management Practitoner and Executive MBA qualifications. Based between Dubai and Milton Keynes.

Helen Pittard (Family Law and Mediation)

A trustee of The Family Initiative and Head of Family Law at 174 Law. Pioneering force behind the development of alternative resolution of family disputes being one of the first to secure Public Funding for provision of Mediation services in Merseyside and the north west allowing clients to maintain dignity and respect throughout the separation process finding the most creative and tailored cost effective solutions at all times and ensuring Parents maintain focus upon a continuing long term relationship and improved communication. Based in Liverpool.

Richard Harpham (Young People)

Richard Harpham is the co-founder of Inspired Life, which provides experiential learning to young people and communities through tailored programmes, inspirational role models and team challenges. He has an MBA from Cranfield and has developed and run school-based health and wellbeing programmes for young people over the past 6 years. He is also an outdoor and professional instructor, providing programmes for the Princes Trust, Scouts, Duke of Edinburgh, YMCA and lots of schools. Based in Bedford.

Ashley Kenlock (Young People)

Ashley Kenlock is a Director of Canoe Trail,  running programmes for young people including Duke of Edinburgh, Princes Trust and lots of schools. She holds lots of youth qualifications including Youth Mental Health First Aid, SMILE Mentor Training and has volunteered with the Samaritans for several years. Ashley was a facilitator for Inspired Life and has worked in charity sector for the past 5-6 years. Based in Bedford.

Duncan Fisher OBE (Sector Engagement)

Founder of the Voices in the Middle campaign, Duncan has worked for over 11 years to see this project come to life. Previously co-founded organisations such as The Travel Foundation and the Fatherhood Institute, being awarded an OBE for services to children. Now focused on sector engagement including corporate and foundation fundraising. Based in Crickhowell.


Our Steering Groups

Young People’s Steering Group

The involvement of young people in creating Voices in the Middle is critical to it’s success.

We are currently creating a new Young People’s Steering Group of 15-19 year olds, that will provide on-going co-creation, feedback and input into the project. This group will be led by our trained youth workers, Richard and Ashley.

All young people who have previously been involved with Voices in the Middle (Youth Team and Youth Council) have been invited to join – watch this space!

Family Law and Mediation Steering Group

Chaired by Helen, our Family Law and Mediation Steering Group ensures the project remains connected to and recieves feedback and input from the sector.

Updates from our steering group meetings will be published here in due course.





Voices in the Middle is a project run by The Family Initiative, charity No.1170660.

The Family Initiative was founded in December 2016 but bringing together a team who have worked with each other in the family sector for over 7 years.

All of our team, working on Voices in the Middle, are based in the UK and have undergone recent safeguarding children training and have been DBS checked (https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview)

For more information, please visit www.familyinitiative.org.uk or Contact Us

We also have an FAQ in our blog post.