Chair of the Board of Trustees

Mireille Yando-Gelezi

Mireille has worked with Commonside for more than five years. We have helped her and she has helped us. She brings a wealth of lived experience to our board, as well as her professional experience as a teacher in one of Merton’s Secondary Schools. Mireille has also worked for the Dons Wimbledon Foundation on summer projects, as well as teaching English to Ukrainian advanced beginners during the summer of 2022. 

Secretary to the Board

Samantha Malin

Samantha came to the UK to work as a lawyer several years ago. During COVID she experienced severe illness and was almost made homeless.  Sam now lives nearby and has a large internet following as a result of her cooking on a budget posts. She has worked in our Community Café and regularly helps at community events. 


Pastor Deji Ajorinde

Pastor Deji has lived and worked in the Pollards Hill area since 2019. Pollards Hill Baptist Church is and has been for several years now, a key local partner and we love having Pr Deji on board. Apart from being a very busy pastor at one of the world’s most community based churches, Pr Deji provides Chaplaincy at Kings Hospital and is skilled in communications and technology. 

Dionne McDowell

Dionne lives within sight of the New Horizon Centre and works as a hairdresser. She has a daughter who attends a local Merton school, and Dionne or ‘Dee’ as she is often called by her friends, is a great help with organising social events in the New Horizon Centre. 

Slawek Szczepanski

Slawek Szczepanski is the CEO of the Polish Family Association which has its offices in the New Horizon Centre. Since February 2022, PFA and Commonside have worked very closely to jointly deliver the Merton Ukraine Refugee Hub, reporting regularly to Merton Council and supporting over 400 Ukrainian families in Merton. 

Paula Bysouth

Paula grew up in the area and lives locally. She has a daughter who attends a local Merton school. Both Paula and her daughter have too much experience of using NHS services and so Paula is one of our experts in health equalities and how to improve and expand health services and information. Paula is passionate about social justice and organised the fundraising and installation of the beautiful pink ‘Tia’ bench on Donnelly Green. 

Mariah Attakpah

Mariah grew up and attended school in Merton and more recently graduated from University with a First. Her Mum is from Ghana and Mariah is active in the community as well as working in the NHS. 

Syed Hussain

Syed runs Sunrise Day Care from the New Horizon Centre. Sunrise is a CQC-registered care provider, looking after older Indian men and women. Many of these clients grew up in East Africa and moved to the UK in the 1970s. Syed lives nearby and is married with two children. 

Cheryl Giddy-Larocque

Cheryl was one of our first ever clients when she joined us with her wonderful daughter, Ruby. Since then, Cheryl has worked in the Step Forward Team, moved on to other jobs, got married and had a daughter and most recently as son. Cheryl is a very hard working Trustee and always helps to promote our community events and comes to them with lots of friends, family members and supporters.

Jean Wisbey

Jean lives locally in Longthornton Ward and has been a community activist all her life. No stranger to NHS services, she is an enthusiastic supporter of Commonside and always goes the extra mile for us. Jean’s children and grandchildren live locally and are involved in amateur performing arts and dance.