Our Team

Our manifesto

We believe everyone deserves to be loved. We don’t turn our heads away. We don’t close our eyes. No one should feel desperation. No one should feel unloved and alone. No one should slip through the cracks. We put more than meals in bellies. We put hope in hearts. We put lives back on track. We open eyes and make others feel empathy. We are the bridge between crisis and resilience. We turn fear into confidence. We help people take control of their own lives. We empower them to start living again. Because everyone has the right to be loved.

Our team

We embrace diversity and pride ourselves on being both a black- and women-led organisation, with a team that includes people with lived experience of poverty, domestic violence, homelessness, criminal injustice, neurodiversity and special educational needs.  Among our team, in addition to English, we speak six different languages.

The Founders

Denise Bentley

Denise Bentley

Co-founder & CEO

Living out her faith has always been important to Denise. Never was it more challenged and ignited when an accident at work occurred. After a career in the City that spanned the banking and business consultancy sectors, she suffered a near fatal brain haemorrhage – but miraculously survived. During the healing process, she realised her life had been saved for a purpose – and decided to dedicate herself to helping people.

In 2010, Denise and her husband Aerold established First Love Foundation with a mission to deliver projects that tackles social injustice, the causes of poverty and deprivation – the first of which was Tower Hamlets Foodbank. Not wanting to just address the crisis, the vision for the Advice & Support Project was born and through it they’ve seen the transformational effect it has had on people’s lives.

Denise is a passionate advocate, an accomplished speaker, has featured in a number of media outlets and considered a respected governmental advisor.

Aerold Bentley

Aerold Bentley

Co-founder & Chair

It was a difficult time for Aerold when Denise suffered a near fatal brain haemorrhage – he was also very much aware how life can in a moment take a 180 degree turn. This is because, as a child, his mother was also given a 50-50 chance of survival after being diagnosed with a blood clot on the brain.

One of the biggest lessons he learnt was the importance of having the right kind of support around you when you are in crisis. It was in the midst of this that Aerold found his faith.

Although a major turning point, his passion for giving the voiceless a voice is rooted in personal challenges he faced in his youth. Now with Denise healed, he too dedicated the rest of his life to helping others.

Now looking to the future, Aerold is keen to see First Love Foundation continue to innovate and grow from strength to strength, playing its part in transforming the community – and beyond.

We can't do it alone

Through referrals from a network of over 300 external agencies, we provide advocacy and advice support to people in crisis living in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, City of London and the adjacent boroughs. Together, with our corporate partners and volunteers, we transform lives as we work towards building a stronger community.

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