Niamh Eastwood
Executive Director
020 7324 2980

Niamh is Executive Director of Release. She started at Release in 2002 as a legal advisor. She has extensive experience of service delivery, policy strategy, fundraising and operational development. Niamh is passionate about drug policy reform and believes that the most vulnerable in society are disproportionately impacted upon by the current drug laws.

Niamh has co-authored Release's recent policy papers 'The Colour of Injustice: 'Race', Drugs and Law Enforcement in England and Wales' and ‘A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe’. She has also co-authored and edited a number of Release's advice booklets, she regularly contributes to drug policy journals and publications. Niamh is also responsible for drafting many of Release's briefings for parliamentarians and policy makers. She has presented at international and national conferences and is regularly invited to comment in the media.

Niamh is a member of the Expert Steering Group for the Global Drug Survey, an Associate Member of the Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at Middlesex University, and a visiting lecturer at the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University. She is also a committee member for DrugScience and has been a technical advisor to the Global Commission on Drug Policy

Keith Edwards
Finance & Operations
020 7324 2979

Keith does all the financial stuff for the organisation, and orgasinational development. He also provides operational support and the evaluation reports for the services we provide.


Stephen Cutter
Head of Legal Services
020 7324 2991

Stephen is a Justice First Fellow who joined Release as a Trainee Solicitor. During his training he completed a secondment in criminal defence. Shortly after qualifying he undertook a legal role focussed on reducing the impact of poverty on children in London. He returned to Release in 2020 to lead our work on helping the homeless population during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stephen has a particular interest in providing holistic legal advice in partnership with other organisations. He has undertaken community outreach work at drug and alcohol services, foodbanks and support services for the homeless population. In providing a range of legal services at these locations he hopes to reduce the disproportionate impact of current policies on marginalised communities.

Prior to training as a Solicitor Stephen was employed by BPP University. There he managed the Legal Advice Clinic, which provides free advice to members of the public in housing and family law, and other projects run by the Pro Bono Centre.

Liam Carmody
Supervising Solicitor
020 7324 2986

Liam joined Release as a Solicitor after working as a Senior Immigration Caseworker at Duncan Lewis Solicitors where he also completed his training contract. Prior to this Liam volunteered at Hackney Community Law Centre and Bail for Immigration Detainees. As a Senior Immigration Caseworker Liam had experience of representing some of the most marginalised and vulnerable groups through the complex and demanding immigration detention and asylum process.

At Release Liam is eager to continue working to bring access to justice for those that need it most.

Rebecca Green
Trainee Solicitor
020 7324 2987

Rebecca joined Release after working for a charity specialising in housing matters for those homeless or vulnerably housed. Rebecca’s interest in advocating for those vulnerably housed was sparked from her time living and working in the IDP (internally displaced person) camps in Kenya. After retuning to the UK, her commitment to social justice topics was formed and she pursued her legal studies. She completed an LLB specialising in Human Rights in London and her LPC LLM at the University of Law in Guildford. Since then Rebecca has undertaken work in the refugee camp of Calais in 2017 at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe. Rebecca also continued to volunteer her time in foodbanks and homeless charities at home and abroad.

Sadie Base
Legal Adviser
020 7324 2974

Sadie joined Release as a Legal Adviser after working for Shelter providing housing, debt and welfare advice at HMP Forest Bank in Manchester. Prior to this she completed the GDL at City Law School and an undergraduate degree in Sociology at the University of Sheffield. Sadie has volunteered across a broad spectrum of advocacy and advice organisations such as Beyond Detention as well as RAPAR and MASH in Manchester, working with sex workers and people facing deportation. Additionally, she has supported Islington CommUnify legal clinic providing housing advice to social housing residents. She is a member of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and has a particular interest in immigration law, abolitionist philosophy and UK welfare policy.

Julia Ifraim
Legal Adviser
020 7324 2976

Julia joined Release as a Legal Adviser after completing her GDL and Bar Vocational Studies at City Law School, London. During her law studies, she worked with the Free Representation Unit and Bail for Immigration Detainees and also worked as a paralegal. At Release, Julia applies her knowledge and enthusiasm for public law and human rights to her work advising clients whose drug use has complicated their access to benefits and housing.

Before her time at City, Julia worked as a Children’s Rights Campaigner with UNICEF UK and worked as Strategic Researcher with The Prince’s Trust, and was certified as an international election observer through the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in 2021. Julia holds a Masters degree in Education, Health Promotion, and International Development from UCL, where she studied after working for some years as an educationalist in Pakistan. Julia is a cinephile and cricket enthusiast.

Cynthia Fernando
Legal Adviser
020 7324 2975

Cynthia joined Release as a legal caseworker after completing her LLM in Public International Law from LSE. Her postgraduate studies focused on adopting a critical approach to the law, particularly decolonial, abolitionist perspectives, strengthening her resolve to advocate for the rights of those who use drugs and building community in a fragmented world. Before joining Release, she volunteered providing advice with Citizens’ Advice Wandsworth, and pro bono charity Advocate. Cynthia is particularly interested in combining legal practice with policy research, using the law as both a tool of resistance and a catalyst for transformative change.

Aminah Chowdhury
Legal Adviser
020 7324 2977

Aminah joined Release as a legal caseworker after completing her LLM in Human Rights Law at Queen Mary University of London. Here, she focused on a variety of legal issues, including migrants’ rights, climate justice issues and feminist issues. Her placement with the UNODC provided the catalyst for wanting to advocate for the rights of people struggling with drug abuse and addressing their vulnerabilities. Prior to joining Release, she volunteered for Liberty and the Citizen's Advice Bureau. Aminah’s main interests lie in using the law to hold the powerful to account and dismantling the structural inequalities that affect the most vulnerable in society.

Phillipa Gelland
Senior Legal Adviser
020 7324 2984

Pip joined Release as a Senior Legal Advisor from Save the Children International after qualifying as a Solicitor in Australia. She completed a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of International Relations at the Australian National University, with a particular focus on international human rights law and public law. During her studies, she completed two internships at community legal clinics, where her passion for using the law as a tool to protect the most vulnerable in society and having a positive impact on society as a result developed. She finds motivation in being able to help people at an individual level, as well as advocating for wider policy change. Phillipa is currently working towards dual qualification as a Solicitor in England and Wales.

Ade Oshinmi
Trainee Solicitor
+44 (0) 20 7324 2982

Ade joined Release as a Legal Adviser after working as a paralegal at the commercial law firm, Wedlake Bell, where she worked on debt and litigation matters.

Prior to this, she worked at the firm Wesley Gryk, where she specialised in immigration, asylum and human rights law.

Ade also has a fascination with social media, the internet and campaigning, completing a course in Social Media Anthropology at University College London in 2020.

Ade completed a degree in Law at City, University of London in 2019 and the Legal Practice Course at City Law School in 2020. During her studies, she worked as a caseworker for the Criminal Cases Review Commission on a range of miscarriage of justice and appeal cases. Ade is extremely passionate about affording access to justice for everyone, working on a number of pro-bono causes including as a legal observer and consent teacher for the PSHE charities, The Schools Consent Project and Life Lessons Education

Emma Bhermi
Trainee Solicitor
+44 (0) 207 324 2985

Emma joined Release as a Trainee Solicitor after working for Bindmans for two years working on the civil claims for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, as well as working with the Public Inquiry Team on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Whilst completing her legal studies at the University of Law, Emma demonstrated her commitment to social justice through various voluntary roles and pro bono work. She has been involved with organisations such as Citizens Advice, Law Stop Community Care, and the Intervene Project, providing legal advice and representation to individuals in need and also served as a Regional Rep for SolidariTee, supporting NGOs that provide legal aid to refugees.

Niresha Umaichelvam
Supervising Solicitor
020 73242981

Niresha joined Release after a few years in private legal aid practice, securing justice for the most vulnerable. She has worked on a number of complex cases involving children’s and adult social care, public bodies and local government through judicial review proceedings. She is passionate in safeguarding her clients’ fundamental human rights and has attained her higher rights of audience to represent clients at Court.

Niresha was recognised as a finalist in the Law Society’s 2023 Legal Heroes for her commitment to human rights and raising awareness of community care and social welfare issues. She is determined to focus on tackling the intersectional risk environment that people who use drugs face; particularly challenging the stigmatisation around usage, housing and race. She also wants to champion and effect impactful change for youth and future generations to come, through policy and legislative exploration.

Niresha professionally volunteers for the specialist Law Society’s Human Rights Committee and also for the Women’s Solicitors Network Committee, responsible for upholding human rights standards and gender equality. She also delivers seminars to law students, with a hope to inspire upcoming lawyers to specialise into social welfare and legal aid.


Fenella Sentance
Legal Policy Researcher
020 7324 2973

Fenella joined Release in November 2021 and splits her time between the Drugs Team and the Legal Team as Advocate and Caseworker respectively. She cares deeply about the rights of people who use drugs.  Before Release, she worked for a housing law charity, supporting renters to take action against their landlords for malpractice in the First-tier Tribunal, and as a caseworker for a Students’ Union. The casework Fenella undertook in these roles often involved navigating the unquestioned discrimination faced by drug users, whether it was section 8 housing evictions or exclusion from educational institutions because of drug use. Since joining Release, her casework has focused on advocating for people’s rights in and out of drug treatment settings, and she now also assists in providing legal support on debt, housing, and benefits. 

Shayla Schlossenberg
Drugs Service Coordinator
+44 (0)20 7324 2971

Shayla joined Release after spending the last two years at an East London homelessness charity, managing a drug and alcohol outreach team. Originally from Baltimore, Shayla moved to the UK in 2019 to complete an MSc in Anthropology at the University of Oxford, producing a dissertation on harm reduction's role in drug user subjectification in the UK. Prior to this, Shayla has been working in the harm reduction world since 2015, at centres for people who use drugs and sex worker projects in three cities in the USA (Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York City) and in Shanghai, China. Shayla's particular harm reduction skills are working with people oppressed by patriarchy, people who use methamphetamine, and people who trade sex.

Medical Adviser

Chris retired from General Practice after 30 years in practice, where she special interests in working with people who use drugs and/or alcohol, HIV and hepatitis and sexual health. Chris helped form the Substance Misuse Management in General Practice, a primary care network to support and train practitioners to care for people who use drugs and / or alcohol, and was its Clinical Director until 2011. Chris also set up International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies (IDHDP), which represents doctors demanding an end to punitive drug policies.

Fraser Parry
Drugs Advocacy and Support Adviser
020 7324 2972

Fraser is the Drugs Advocacy and Support Adviser at Release, supporting PWUD, advocating for them within treatment. He also assists in the helpline. Fraser previously worked in drug and alcohol services as a recovery worker, as well as a mental health support worker and for a national homelessness charity. Interested in exploring the ways in which already existing networks including trade unions can more effectively meet the needs of workers and clients.  


André Belchior Gomes
Communications Lead & Editor of TalkingDrugs
020 7324 2996

André joined Release after having previously volunteered for the organisation. He is the editor of TalkingDrugs, responsible for writing stories, working with volunteers and commissioning pieces from those passionate about drugs and drug policy worldwide. He also manages Release's social media.

André has previously worked with Drugs and Me helping develop harm reduction apps and its communications strategy. He's also written for a variety of media outlets like Al Jazeera, Novara Media and André has a MSc in Political Communications from the London School of Economics, having researched the communication strategies used by drug policy reform organisations to influence public opinion.