Monica Beckles

I was appointed the Chair of Lives Not Knives in February 2020 and I consider it a true honour. The teams’ passion and commitment to make a real difference to the lives of young people is infectious.  They are deeply dedicated to reducing knife crime and are achieving remarkable outcomes from their focus and hard work, steering young people toward a more fulfilling and productive life.

I share that passion and started supporting the charity in 2017, with pro bono HR support. That is when I really got to know the team and the CEO, Eliza.  Watching her in action over this time reinforced my desire to support her further and the rest as they say, is history.  In a painful irony, shortly after I started to work with the team, my nephew nearly lost his life to knife crime. He was in intensive care for a month and it was touch and go. It was the most harrowing experience of my adult life. I would not wish the pain and distress that my family endured on any individual and in working with the charity, I can do more than just wish, I can make a tangible difference.

Now that you know why I became Chair, let me share a little more about me. I am a passionate champion of inclusion, diversity and equal opportunities and despise social injustice. I was born in Croydon and have lived here all my life, raising two children, one of whom is also a father to a teenage boy. As the youngest of five children, I developed a competitive side which created the determination that I carry with me today.

I spent 20 years working in the fiercely competitive debt recovery industry in a variety of leadership roles in compliance, service quality, operations, and people management before my final year as a non-executive director. It was a priceless education into the many causes and far reaching consequences of debt - physical and mental health, family life, work, it affects so many areas. Looking behind the indebtedness and to the person helped us to provide education on improved sustainable financial management to help with the repayment of debts.  Lives Not Knives shares this ethos – to look past the behaviour of the young person, to understand the cause, educate and create opportunities for improvement – a perfect fit! 

I then undertook a period of study becoming a well, shall we say, mature student, achieving qualifications in Employment Law and Workplace Mediation as well as an MBA.  I worked for a local firm of employment solicitors as their Director of HR Consultancy, before setting up my own consultancy in 2015. I believe that an organisation’s competitive edge is built on a foundation of social norms, trust and reciprocity and I help leaders to unlock their potential.

Whilst the initial intention was to work with businesses, my time with the solicitors reshaped my business model. I witnessed a plethora of enquiries from individuals in conflict with their employers and without the appropriate funds to engage support. Identifying that these individuals would likely lose their jobs, often unfairly, I decided to establish an advocacy service and have helped many people retain jobs and rebuild their relationships with their employer, even influencing change in employers policies and procedures, from the outside!

Talking of outside, when I am not working, I can often be found playing tennis or football (yes, I confess, I’m a massive fan!) with my children and grandchild in the local parks or enjoying quality time with my mother, whom I care for, and my siblings.  Listening to music, and of course prancing around the house to it, are my other passions!

I am also a co-opted HR Link governor at a local special needs school, and a member of the Patient Participation Group at my GP practice, helping to continually improve the quality of healthcare services provided to the local community.