Our Mission

The UK has one of the lowest rates of social mobility amongst OECD countries. This means that children growing up in poverty are less likely to achieve in school, to attend university, and to find productive employment as adults.

By the age of seven, children who are eligible for Free School Meals are more than twice as likely as their better-off peers to be behind on expected reading levels. Over 60 percent of these children will fail to achieve five good GCSEs, which significantly increases their chances of becoming unemployed upon leaving school.

Debate Mate aims to tackle educational disadvantage in some of Britain’s most deprived communities.

It does this by recruiting and training university students to run extra-curricular debate workshops in schools with an above average percentage of children eligible for Free School Meals.

Our programmes increase speaking and listening attainment and improve a range of higher-order thinking skills and non-cognitive abilities such as confidence, teamwork, and leadership.

In doing so, our programmes address the widening skills gap between education and employment, whilst raising aspirations and helping students to make informed post-18 choices.

We believe that every child deserves equal access to a top education. Debate Mate supports the young people of today to find their voices, so that they can become the leaders of tomorrow.

Learn about our programmes

Our team

Margaret McCabe
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Read Bio

Margaret has over twenty years' experience as a commercial barrister, combined with two decades in the voluntary sector including Centre Point and the NSPCC Justice for Children programme.

Jess Dix
Executive Director
Read Bio

Jess graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in Comparative American Studies. As part of her degree she spent a year studying History at UCLA in the USA. Jess is a Teach First ‘07 Ambassador, she worked as an English and History teacher at The Lammas School and Sports College in East London where she was appointed Whole School Literacy Coordinator, and was committed to creating a debating community within the school. Jess joined the Debate Mate team in September 2010 to grow the programme across the UK, and currently oversees the running of the charity and their strategic vision.

Enayah Byramjee
Educational Development Director
Read Bio

Enayah graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in English and American Literature. She completed her PGCE in 2005 and has worked in inner-London secondary schools since then, teaching English up to A Level. Enayah was Deputy of the English and Literacy Faculty for 5 years at Acland Burghley School before joining the Debate Mate team in September 2015, where she oversees the running of Debate Mate's UK programmes and operations.

Benedict Sarhangian
Head of Innovation
Read Bio

Benedict has been involved with Debate Mate since its first year, and has taught the programme in over a dozen schools. He won a scholarship to read for a Masters’ in International History at the LSE, having previously read International Relations & History at the same university. At LSE, Benedict founded and edited The London Globalist, an international affairs magazine with chapters across the world. In 2011, Benedict took part in Debate Mate Israel/Palestine, and before joining the team in 2012, spent a month teaching as part of the Debate Mate Jamaica programme.

Seun Iyaniwura
Group Education Director
Read Bio

Seun graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Politics. She was President of the Nottingham Debating Union, successfully launching a schools programme, and representing Nottingham at the European and World Universities Debating Championships. Seun was a mentor on the Nepal 2010 programme and took the team to the 2011 World Schools Championship held in Dundee. She has worked for Debate Mate in Africa, the Middle East and Asia and is currently responsible for Debate Mate’s international development. Seun joined the team in September 2011.

Joseph O’Toole
Executive Programme Director
Read Bio

Joe graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English Literature, mentoring for two years during his time as a student. In 2012, Joe was selected to represent the United Kingdom in the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF), a debate and international relations programme in America sponsored by the State Department. Since joining the Debate Mate team full-time, he has run the Accelerate Programme, designed a Debate Boxing Programme, and delivered the Debate Mate Programme across Rwanda.

Hugo Van Mol
Executive Programme Director
Read Bio

Hugo graduated from University College London in 2017 with a degree in Ancient History. He was a mentor with Debate Mate for three years - teaching in both primary and secondary schools across London - before joining the office full-time. In 2016, he spent three weeks mentoring in Rwanda, and in 2017 was part of the Debate Mate team that helped to run the Parliamentary Debate World Congress in Japan. Hugo also led Debate Mate's international programme in Nepal in 2018, and currently oversees all of Debate Mate's mentor recruitment, assessment, and training, as well as delivering our Teacher Training Programmes, and supporting the Core Programme.

Ronke Ayoola
Executive Programme Director
Read Bio

Ronke graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in History and American Studies in 2017. During her time at university she mentored on the Debate Mate Primary and Accelerate programmes. Ronke was also the head of the American Studies Society at Manchester and helped to oversee their activities. Following her graduation, she developed her passion for education as an English language teacher at a primary school in Barranquilla, Colombia - and also has experience as an educational volunteer in both Ghana and London. Currently, Ronke oversees the West Midlands Primary Programme at Debate Mate.

Lizzie Holmes
Executive Programme Director
Read Bio

Lizzie graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English Literature and Theatre. During her time at university Lizzie mentored on the Bristol Programme, as well as mentoring on Debate Mate's International Programme in Nepal. In Bristol, Lizzie was Head of Operations for the university’s radio station, Burst. Lizzie also volunteered as a co-presenter and newsreader on the One Love Breakfast show for the community radio station BCfm. Lizzie currently runs our London Primary and Bristol Programmes, and works on the Debate Mate podcast.

Kristian Radcliffe
Executive Programme Director
Read Bio

Kristian graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in Physiology in 2017. Whilst at university, he mentored for Debate Mate and was a Regional Representative in the Manchester region. Kristian also dedicated much of his time to training and competing for the Moss Side Boxing Club. In 2015, he spent 2 months as a Camp Counsellor at the Homes for Homeless summer camp in New York. Since graduating, Kristian has spent a year in Moscow as an English, Science, and Mathematics teacher. As a Programme Director, he runs our Liverpool Secondary Programme, and assist in the running of the DebateBox programme.

James Waterfield
Executive Programme Director
Read Bio

James recently graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. James has mentored for Debate Mate on both the Core and Accelerate Programmes in schools across the UK and has also mentored internationally in Rwanda, Nepal, China, and South Korea. At University he was head of Social Media and Communications for the PPE Society, and Fundraising Officer for The Anthony Nolan Charity. James also mentored on a number of different bespoke projects, working with various organisations such as Deloitte and The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This year he is overseeing the Manchester Primary Programme.

Georgia Parkin
Director of Partnerships, Operations and Projects
Read Bio

Georgia is Director of Partnerships, Operations and Projects at Debate Mate. Georgia joined the team in 2018 and currently oversees the charity's Partnerships and Fundraising as well as Events. Georgia previously mentored on the London Primary Programme and internationally in Japan. Georgia graduated from the University of Plymouth with a degree in Biomedical Science.

Toby Fitzpatrick
Videographer and Content Creator
Read Bio

Toby graduated from University College London with a Masters in Natural Sciences in 2019, having completed his third year abroad in Vancouver, Canada. During his time at university he mentored in East London at The Petchey Academy on the Debate Mate Secondary Core Programme. He spent the summer of 2019 mentoring on the Education UK programme with Intelligence Squared and on Debate Mate's International Programme in Nepal. As Programme Director, Toby oversees the DM+ Programme and assists with media production.

Lucy Russell
Senior Programme Director
Read Bio

Lucy first joined Debate Mate in 2016 as a mentor on the Bristol programme. Whilst at University, Lucy was President of Bristol Debating Union, representing the university at the European and World Universities Debating Championships. In Bristol, she also worked with Bristol Women in Leadership to set up a public speaking course for women and non-binary students. She has recently graduated with a degree in English Literature and is excited to oversee the Blended Programme.

Rohan Mistry
Programme Director
Read Bio

Rohan graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 2020. Rohan has mentored for Debate Mate on both the Core and Accelerate Programmes in schools across the UK and has also mentored internationally in Rwanda. He has also co-led a project within Malawi educating on sexual health with Voluntary Services Overseas. At University he was the President of the PPE Society and involved with fundraising for the society and Manchester-based charities throughout his degree. Rohan also mentored on a number of different bespoke projects, working with various organisations such as Deloitte and University College London. This year he is overseeing the London Primary Programme.

Esther Mark
Programme Director Consultant
Read Bio

Esther has been involved with Debate Mate in various capacities since 2011 where she participated
in the programme whilst in secondary school and sixth form as a competitive debater. She went on
to complete her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Philosophy at Royal Holloway where
she served as social secretary in their debating society. She is now completing/has completed her
masters in Global Health and Social Justice from Kings College London focusing on nutrition and
bioethics. Esther mentored with Debate Mate throughout her time at university and has now joined
the Debate Mate Limited office part time whilst co-owning and running her own small business.

Azaan Akbar
Director of Education UK
Read Bio

Azaan graduated from UCL in Philosophy in 2016 and recently completed his Master's in International Social and Public Policy at the LSE. He has a long history with Debate Mate: he was in the first cohort of students on the Core Programme in 2007; during his time as a teacher, he was the lead Debate Mate teacher at his schools; he became a University debate mentor during his Master's degree and now works at Debate Mate! Azaan is the Director of Education UK at Debate Mate, overseeing our work with schools not eligible for the Core Programme, as well as CPD and teacher training.

Leannah Dahn
Programme Director
Read Bio

Leannah mentored with Debate Mate for 3 years, for two of which she was a Senior Mentor, whilst studying Swahili and Development Studies at SOAS. She mentored on numerous Debate Mate programmes including the Core Programme, DM+, Accelerate and Debate Box. She particularly enjoyed and focussed on mentoring on the Accelerate and Debate Box programmes. Aside from university, Leannah was heavily involved in boxing and various organisations that work with young people from diverse backgrounds in the UK and abroad. In 2017, she spent 6 months volunteering in schools and youth clubs in Zambia. After graduating from SOAS in 2021, she joined the office and became a Programme Director. Currently, she is running the London Primary Programme and assisting with Accelerate and Debate Box.

Emmanuel
Assistant Programme Director
Read Bio

Emmanuel joined the Core Programme when he was 13 and got exposed to a plethora of opportunities he never imagined possible at venues he thought were inaccessible. From debating in the HQ of Monzo to the House of Lords he is no 19 with so much debating experience under his belt as well as ventures both in corporate settings and the creative industry - a testimony to the work Debate Mate truly does. He is with us on a gap year for 6 months (where he is the youngest member of staff) and will spend the latter end of his gap year as a Creative at the advertising agency Quiet Storm.

Amber
Programme Director
Read Bio

Amber recently graduated from the University of Manchester where she studied B.Sc. Neuroscience. During her time at University, she mentored at many schools on our Core and Accelerate programmes. She also worked with students and corporate professionals around the world on our Debate Mate Online, Education UK and Debate Mate Limited Programmes. Aside from Debate Mate, Amber was involved with other organisations which ran student motivation sessions with the aim of inspiring young people to consider higher education. As a Programme Director, she runs both the Primary and Secondary Programmes in Greater Manchester.

Board of trustees

Britt Lintner, Chair
Principal, GLG Partners; founder, Britt Lintner Ltd.

Britt Lintner is Managing Director for International Business Development at EnTrust Global. Before joining EnTrust Global, Britt worked for Deutsche Bank managing EMEA distribution for Liquid Alternatives. Prior to 2015, Britt was Managing Director in the UK institutional sales team at Man Group investment management for nine years. She spent eight years at Lehman Brothers in institutional sales and sales trading in New York and London. Britt Lintner holds a BA in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degree from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Britt is also an adviser to Synchronicity Earth and lives in London with her husband and two sons.

Lady Fiona Edwards-Stuart
Charities specialist

Fiona has been involved in a variety of voluntary projects and community activities for over 50 years, since she was at school. After a MA in History from Cambridge, and a diploma in Business Studies, she worked on the development of employment and training policy for both British and European administrations, and subsequently became increasingly committed to working with NGOs, charities and social enterprise. She lives in London, and has a large extended family which includes 5 grandchildren, so she remains closely involved with educational initiatives at several levels.

Marcus Trotter
Innovations Specialist, Deutsche Bank

Marcus leads Deutsche Bank’s innovation efforts across Asia Pacific running the Singapore Innovation Lab where he is based. Marcus has held previous roles in venture capital and strategy consulting. Marcus graduated with a BA in French and German from University College during which time he was also a mentor for Debate Mate.

Jude Thompson
Managing Director, Indigo Talent

Jude Thompson is the Founder and Managing Director of Indigo Talent with clients including global production companies through to start-ups. She has a commitment to instigating change from disrupting existing hiring practices, through to being a proud Global Ambassador and trustee of Debate Mate, underlying is a value system based on integrity and passion.
Originating from the North-East via several stints living in France, the love of anything water sports related and a vibrant community, finds her currently living in Brighton.

Ade Odusola
Advisor on Space Policy

Ade Odusola joined the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2020 to advise on Space Policy. Before joining BEIS, Ade was an Executive Programme Director at Debate Mate running the Accelerate Programme in addition to programmes in Nottingham and Kigali. Ade holds a BA in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Nottingham.

Tayo Alimi
Teacher of English Literature at Langdon Academy

Tayo is a teacher of English Literature at Langdon Academy in London, where she is also Extra Curriculum Coordinator. She is passionate about providing opportunities for children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and started one of the first ever Debate Mate clubs in her school back in 2008. Her students went on to win the first Urban Debate League and Debate Mate Cup competitions in 2010. She was also featured as part of the televised series 'Kings and Queens of Speech' in 2015. Tayo holds a MA in Communication Studies from the University of Leeds and a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan.

Keanna Williams
Creative Tech Entrepreneur

Keanna Williams is a Creative Tech Entrepreneur and Future Trainee Lawyer at Clifford Chance. Keanna studied International Law and Globalisation at the University of Birmingham before joining Debate Mate full time as a Programme Director. Keanna completed the Debate Mate Programme throughout her time at school, competing internationally. Keanna is completing her LPC Masters in Commercial Business Law and will be starting at Clifford Chance LLP in August of 2021