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Who We Are

Meet the Team

Paul Dayes – Founder and Director

Paul Dayes, the Director of Exit Foundation is himself an ex-offender. Paul has now made it his life’s passion to stop young people from taking the same path and making the same mistakes that he once made. Paul does this via one-to-one mentoring, life coaching and group sessions, including public speaking and workshops. Since setting up the Exit Foundation organisation, Paul himself works tirelessly in the field alongside the rest of his staff members. Together, the Exit Foundation team help people exit their old lifestyle for a new beginning as Paul himself has done.

The mission statement that Paul chose for the Exit Foundation organisation is ‘Love never fails’. Paul TOTALLY believes in this statement.

Dinija Natarajan – Office Manager

Dinija was born in Kerala South India and moved to the UK with her parents and sister in March 1973, when she was 6 years old.  She is the oldest of 4 siblings. Dinija is a divorced mother of 2 as well as a grandmother to 2 beautiful and cheeky boys! She grew up in Chatham, Kent, moved to Newham, East London in 1989, and eventually settled in Seven Kings Ilford in 1998.

Dinija has a vast knowledge (32 years) of the youth justice system and has spent the majority of her career as a Youth Justice Support Services Manager at Newham Youth Justice Service.

Dinija joined exit foundation in January 2023 as an office manager, bringing with her, her vast knowledge of youth justice and her administration skills she has acquired over the last 32 years.




Yemisi Cedar -Senior Mentor & Coach

Yemisi was born in Lambeth and grew up with Scottish foster parents in Charlton up to the age of 8 years and then went onto boarding school in Nigeria.

Following on from losing her mother when she was 18 years of age, her life was shaped by trauma, pain, depression and a toxic lifestyle.

She is a single mum who despite all the odds stacked up against her, managed to raise her 2 young adult children successfully, and has a strong passion to help other young people realise their potentials and be restored to their true identities.

Her background is in publishing, field sales, entrepreneurship and training & development. However, as a result of soul searching during the pandemic, she decided to change career direction and join Exit Foundation in helping reshape the lives of broken young people.

Yemisi is also a parent coach, book author, counsellor and ordained minister at Christian International Europe. To her working at Exit Foundation is a calling not a job. Her passion is about helping young people experience positive transformation in every dimension of their lives.

Daniel Marczewski – Case Worker

Daniel was born in South London and comes from a loving and supportive family. From a young age, Daniel would play up at school, associating with older boys who smoked cannabis and were considered to be ‘cool’. By the age of 11, Daniel himself started smoking cannabis and experimenting with recreational drugs. This then led Daniel into cultivating and drug dealing which became his way of earning money. As a result of his lifestyle, Daniel found himself addicted to crack cocaine and heroin; he was funding this through crimes such as theft, fraud, deception, and dealing. For 23 years he was in and out of prison more than 40 times and has spent over 8 years of his life behind bars.

At the age of 39, Daniel contacted Exit Foundation. At this point, he had reached an all-time low and had given up on life. Exit Foundation reached out to Daniel and directed him into Teen Challenge’s residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. Whilst there Daniel became a Christian and committed to helping others via his personal experiences.

Daniel’s life has now totally changed. He has achieved a level 3 award in Education and Training and is now using his past experiences to help transform the lives of young people. Daniel now works for Exit Foundation as a caseworker and mentor.

Pauline Ann Anderson – Professional Development Trainer

Pauline has spent the past 23 years working in adult education. She is an experienced educator as well as assessor and has a vast amount of experience in working with offenders.

For 17 years, Pauline worked in the prison service, writing and delivering courses to help prisoners reach their full potential on release from jail.

5 years ago, Pauline established a teaching and training centre that runs courses accredited by City and Guilds. This centre in East London helps people turn their lives around from life-controlling addictions and its related criminal behaviour.

Since the centre opened, almost 230 certificates have been given out, some of which have taken their recipients to higher levels of qualification. One man has recently received a first-class honour in law, while another is now a fully-qualified chef.

Pauline joined the Exit Foundation team to offer professional development training to staff in care homes as well as writing and co-delivering gang awareness sessions. She is also involved in delivering skills for life courses for troubled youth in East London.

Daniel Johnson – Outreach Mentor

Born and raised in Southend, Daniel got involved in drugs whilst at school and began smoking cannabis and getting himself involved with petty crime at the age of 14.

In his 20’s Daniel found himself involved in the then well known ‘rave’ scene: this was a type of all-night clubbing that was notorious for drugs taking including ecstasy and cocaine. Daniel found himself to be on the verge of addiction when one night he suffered from a serious panic attack following a drugs binge. This turned out to be the wake-up call that Daniel needed. He decided there and then that he would cease from drug use and change his peer group. Daniel threw himself into employment where he realised that his passion was in helping people.

In 2020 Daniel started working at a furniture centre. He discovered that the Exit Foundation had an office nearby, Daniel walked into the office and the rest is history. Exit Foundation saw his passion and put him through their mentoring course in which Dan proved to be a natural. He is now a valued of the Exit Foundation team.

Veena Amenra- Outreach Mentor

Veena was born in the Midlands, growing up in Leicester.  Being the eldest of 4 daughters, Veena developed a sense of leadership and responsibility at a very early in age. Coming from a strict Indian family upbringing, Veena excelled in her educational career, completing with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Events Management.

Veena was a member of the first ever British Asian RNB/POP Girl Group call ‘Freedom Angel’ (2000 to 2005). During these years as a professional recording artist, Veena had the privilege of working with Grammy Award Winning Music Producers whilst recording their album. The group were mentored by Legends in the Show Business Industry – Betty Wright & Alexander O’ Neal. Freedom Angel released their first single in 2003 – ‘Tease Me’ featuring Chaka Demus & Pliers & Spanna Banna, which had success finding a position in the Top 10 of the UK Club Music Charts. Veena went on to travel the world as a member of Freedom Angel & they also supported Sean Paul on his breakout UK tour in 2003.

Veena went on to get married and have two beautiful daughters, living in homes in New York, Houston -Texas , Tbilisi- Georgia (Eastern Europe) and Dar Es Salaam – East Africa.

Veena has now returned to music 20 years later. Veena is in the process of writing & recording a Contemporary Christian Worship Music Album which is awaited in much anticipation. She is also preparing to join the worship music team at her church Kensington Temple in Nottinghill Gate, London.

Veena Amenra has been a fully certified ‘Quantum Success Coaching Academy’(QSCA), Success Mindset Life Coach since 2010.

Veena went through a tough phase in her life when she decided to overcome her own personal alcohol misuse issues. She is now living a life sober and free.

Relocating to London after her divorce, Veena decided to get involved with Exit Foundation because of our great reputation working with young people.

Veena saw that there was a growing dysfunctional problem with youth in London and she wanted to help by sharing her expertise in ‘Renewing The Mind & Success Mindset’.  She completed a 3-month Young Person Mentoring Certification Program after which Exit Foundation offered her the opportunity to start mentoring young people. Veena then went on to complete a 1 year ‘Rise Up – Leadership Program’ after which she set up her own Community Interest Company/Charity call ‘Hope Arise’.

“I love my work as a YP Mentor.  It’s great to guide, encourage and support young people, helping them to steer back onto a better path and achieve success in their lives, leading to a better future. I like to encourage them that it’s never too late to live your dream life 💪🏽💯🙏”

David Ilori- Therapeutic Care Worker

David has worked within the sphere of Social Justice and Youth and Community work for over 17 years. He started out in a statuary role in Youth Offending and generic youth work settings such at the age of 19.

After qualifying in Youth and Community Development, he began managing Residential Care Homes, which he continued to do for over 8 years. Alongside this he also volunteered and supported the Chaplinecy Team at HMP Belmarsh. During his time at Belmarsh, he supported the spiritual development of young men whilst they where in prison and  now mentors them upon release.

For the past 24 months David has been working as a Youth and Community Consultant. He has delivered employability and coaching with a kickstart program in Waltham Forest and an employability and business start-up training in Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlet.

He is  excited about the opportunity to work with the Exit Foundation Team.

Derek Akosah. Director of ‘Be Heard As One’  – Is under secondment with Exit Foundation 

Born in Walthamstow to African parents who were struggling financially, Derek ended up in the care system at the age of 8. After watching his parents struggle and being told by teachers that he would amount to nothing in life, along with the need for money, Derek chose a life of crime deciding to make quick money. Derek did not care about himself or the destruction that he caused to others and ended up going in and out of prison.

A passion for sports and making music led him into running one of the biggest drum and base radio stations in Europe. He decided to use that platform to set up a record label company called TIAMAT, one of the first record labels to be set up by a Master of Ceremony (MC).

After release from prison for conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs, he embarked on a life of transformational change and giving back to the community, especially young offenders like himself.

Derek believes in the ethos of Exit Foundation and putting the youth and not the money first. He brings a wealth of strong passion, knowledge, and lived experience that is valuable to the Exit Foundation organisation. We at Exit Foundation believe that he is a perfect fit.

‘Be Heard As One’, is an organisation designed to give the youth a voice, to change mind sets through education, and to inspire positive attitudes and habits. We are proposing to offer a mentoring and motivational speaking service for schools and in particular for young black boys. We also want to provide a Saturday school aimed at young black boys (Key stage 3 and 4), who are failing at school, excluded from school or currently in a PRU, which will focus on life, emotional and leadership skills.

Greg Burnett – Mentor

Greg grew up on the streets of Ipswich. In 1991 Greg found himself serving a 9-year prison sentence for the crime of armed robbery. Whilst in prison Greg transformed his life by becoming a Christian.

On his release in 1998, Greg secured himself a job in ‘roadworks’. In 2008 Greg started visiting prisons on a weekend to work in prison ministry. This included Greg giving testimony to other prisoners informing them that it was ‘never too late’ to turn their lives around. In 2015 Greg started working with Exit Foundation as a volunteer mentor. Greg is a valued and committed member of Exit Foundation whose desire is to see people exit street life.

Trish  Payne – Mentor

Trish was born and raised in Newham. She was born 15th November 1971 in Barking hospital and lived in East Ham until she moved out at age 17. She is the only child to her West Indian parents and was raised in a loving home.

Trish suffered abuse in her younger years which, through fear, she kept secret. Her trauma paved the way for a troubled existence riddled with feelings of low self worth. Trish used drugs and alcohol from a young age as a means to escape from her anxiety and depression. Despite her addictions, Trish raised a beautiful daughter (now 23 years). Ella is a blessing to Trish and their relationship has always been loving and encouraging.

In 2017 Trish freed herself from her addictions and in 2020 her life transformed when she became a Born Again Christian and baptized. After a life long career in hospitality, Trish challenged herself for the first time in her life (aged 50) and enrolled on a counseling course. With a new found passion and lust for life her motivation and commitment is to help others find their contentment. Trish’s purpose was made clear to her when she attended a meeting where Paul Dayes was sharing his testimony. She is grateful to now be working with Exit Foundation and having the opportunity to make a difference to young peoples lives.

Wonton the Shih Tzu – Therapy Dog

Wonton is the Exit Foundation and Newham YOS therapy dog. Wonton is a very important part of the Exit Foundation team who travels around with Paul whilst meeting the young people during their one on one mentoring sessions. Wonton sits in the back seat of the car and is available for engagement with the young people should they wish to do so. Wonton has become the most popular team member of all!

Become a Mentor

The commitment of our wonderful mentors and volunteers is essential in enabling Exit Foundation to help improve the lives of those in need. At Exit Foundation, we’re proud to work with mentors who have experienced and exited a gang or crime-related lifestyle themselves.

We are always on the lookout for dedicated and trustworthy mentors to join the team. If this sounds like you, and you’d like to use your experiences to impact the lives of others, you may be our next team member!

To register your interest, please get in touch by filling out the form on our contact page. A member of the team will get back to you to answer any questions you might have and begin the mentor application process.

The importance of mentors

It is with your funding that we are able to continue helping young people take effective steps to exit a life of violence and crime. To help us support more young people in need, please click the button below to donate.