WhatDoTheyKnow Service Manager

Helen joined us as a staff member in 2022, but she’d been involved with mySociety, and specifically our Transparency services, for many years before that.

“I was the 1,787th person to sign up for a WhatDoTheyKnow account, so a pretty early adopter”, she explains. “I made my very first FOI request in November 2008. It was refused, but I was hooked.”

Soon she had discovered the categorisation game: this invites anyone to look at FOI requests on WhatDoTheyKnow and mark whether or not they’ve been successful.

“I’d classify requests, and post about any interesting responses I’d found in the process. Then in 2010 I became a formal volunteer.”

It’s safe to say Helen has been an asset to the site: by the time she joined us a a staff member, Helen had classified more than 56,000 requests, added over 15,000 public authorities to the site, and answered thousands of emails from users, authorities and regulators alike.

Now, in her more formalised role, Helen looks after WhatDoTheyKnow and its team of volunteers, managing frontline issues as they arise, by responding to user queries and escalating high risk cases where needed. “It’s my job to support the current volunteers and to welcome new ones to the team”, says Helen. “I also act as a link between WhatDoTheyKnow and the wider transparency team, making sure everyone knows what we’re up to.”

Helen is fluent in: German – and: “I have a real passion for languages, so I’ve started learning more than a dozen more over the years, with varying degrees of success.”