Debbie Ariyo OBE 

(Founder and Chief Executive of AFRUCA) – Safeguarding Children

Debbie Ariyo is Chief Executive of AFRUCA, a UK charity she founded in 2001 to address child safeguarding and child trafficking issues in African diaspora communities and provide services to help support children and families and rehabilitate victims. A former UK civil servant, she holds an Executive Master degree in Public Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a Master degree in Urban Policy from the University of North London and a Bachelor degree in French and Education from the University of Benin, Nigeria.

Debbie also chairs the BME Anti-Slavery Network (BASNET) which she founded in 2019 to help promote racial equity, diversity and inclusion in the UK anti-trafficking sector.

A noted expert in Safeguarding Children, Debbie has specialist expertise in addressing socio-cultural factors affecting the protection and safeguarding of children of Black and African origins in the UK and Europe. She is also a specialist in forced migration and human trafficking and has vast experience of designing and implementing diaspora anti-trafficking engagement programmes and service provision for victims and survivors.  She has worked in different capacities as a researcher, an advocate, a court expert witness, a trainer, a newspaper columnist, and a public speaker.

Debbie has served in many advisory and non-executive roles. These include as a non-Executive Board Member of the defunct UK Independent Safeguarding Authority, a former Trustee of Children England and a current Board Member of Manchester Children and Youths Board. Debbie served as Chair of the children’s charity KEEN London. She is a Trustee of the Africa Europe Diaspora Development Platform based in Brussels.  She is also an Advisory Board Member of the Journal of Modern Slavery based in the US. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.

In March 2019, Debbie was appointed a Churchill Fellow and conducted research exploring Community Engagement Models in the Protection of Child Victims of Trafficking in Ghana and Thailand. Her research report provides a range of recommendations to help inform and improve UK intervention on Child Trafficking and Modern Slavery in relation to diaspora and black and minority ethnic communities.

Debbie was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2011 for her work with children and families.

Debbie is a great lover of African art and theatre, studies Yoruba history, enjoys classical music and is a fan of Fela, the Nigerian Afro-beats maestro. She enjoys travelling, exploring the hidden gems in different places.

August 2020

Ms Ganiatu Martins

Chair of AFRUCA

Qualification in Social Work, Post Graduate Diploma in Social Work and Post Graduate Diploma in Management.

Gani has worked for several Local Authorities in various posts. She has worked in senior management roles since 2001 and has been instrumental in successfully leading comprehensive change management of children’s services.

In 2009 Gani was seconded to Government Office North West for England as Safeguarding Advisor, providing advice and support to six Local Authorities to improve their Safeguarding arrangements.

From March 2010 to February 2011 Gani was the Director of Safeguarding and Corporate Parenting at Rotherham Council where she successfully led the Council’s children’s services to make significant improvement from “Inadequate” to “Adequate” Ofsted inspection judgment and removal of the Department for Education Improvement Notice in January 2011.

In February 2011 Gani took up the role of Assistant Director Specialist Services at Salford City Council. She completed several major changes moving child protection services from “Inadequate” to “Adequate” in the Ofsted Inspection of 2012. In 2014 she was promoted to Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services. She left Salford in October 2014 and is currently working as an Independent Social Care Improvement and Management Consultant. Gani has also led and contributed to several Local Government Association Peer Reviews for Local Authorities

Dr Tsitsi Chawatama

Vice Chai
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