Asylum Welcome is almost entirely made up of volunteers. We also have a board of trustees and a small staff team (see below).
Mark became Director of Asylum Welcome in April 2020, having previously led Oxfam, Mencap and VSO. He has worked as a trustee of and consultant to charities of all sizes. His working life has been focused on tackling exclusion, lack of opportunity and poverty. Having spent many years working on global issues, including with refugees and displaced people across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, he is pleased to have the opportunity to make a difference in a practical way closer to home. Mark studied law at Oxford and has a Masters in Social Policy from LSE.
Frontline Services Manager: Almas Farzi
Almas Farzi, also known as Navid, worked as a teacher and a head teacher in Iran. He has a Diploma in Management and obtained a degree in Politics with Social Policy at Goldsmith College, University of London.
Navid worked for the British Refugee Council for 14 years as an adviser and is a registered as an immigration adviser with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
Fundraising and Development Manager: Dr Gilberto Estrada Harris
Finance and Contracts Manager: Jackie McDowell
Office Manager: Saeed Saif Noaman
Youth Service Coordinator: Helena Cullen
Helena is a qualified teacher and mediator who has worked with children and young people for nearly 15 years in schools, youth groups and the community. She loves working at Asylum Welcome because of the enthusiasm and energy of the young people she works with.
Prisoner and Detainee Project Coordinator: Clara Della Croce
Clara is passionate about rights, migrants’ rights. She has supported people held under immigration powers for more than 10 years, initially as an Asylum Welcome volunteer and then as a member of staff. Now, she works with volunteers to assist foreign nationals held in HMP Huntercombe addressing their isolation, humanitarian needs, language barriers and helping them to understand and exercise their rights.
Clara has worked for the United Nations in Geneva and the OAS in Washington D.C, and prior to that spent time in Brussels at the European Commission. She also lectures in law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London and at Oxford Brookes University.
Europa Welcome Service Coordinator: Nazan Ozgur
Nazan qualified and practised as an immigration solicitor for 8 years at Turpin & Miller in Oxford. She joined Asylum Welcome in May 2019 as casework manager to help vulnerable and at-risk EEA citizens and families apply for EUSS. She has been a passionate advocate for vulnerable EEA migrants’ and families rights throughout her legal practice.
Nazan also works freelance as a National NPPV3 qualified interpreter for the Thames Valley police and is a volunteer interpreter for the British Red Cross Refugee Service, London. She has a LLB law degree from the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), London and a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from Oxford.
Fundraiser: Rosia Curtis
Rosia joined Asylum Welcome in May 2020. She has worked as a fundraiser for a number of years, raising many thousands of pounds for local charities. Rosia also works as a freelance writer, editor and biographer. She has a BA in History from the University of Sheffield and an MSc in African Studies from the University of Edinburgh. Her grandparents were refugees and she is delighted to be working in the refugee sector.
Volunteer Coordinator: Hannah Underwood
Hannah joined Asylum Welcome in July 2020, after completing an MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS University. Alongside her studies, she started working for another charity called Wycombe Refugee Partnership, where her role also involves supporting and coordinating volunteers.
Previously, after graduating from the University of St Andrews (MA Social Anthropology and Comparative Literature), Hannah worked Teaching English as Foreign Language in Argentina, Uruguay and Spain. Since, she has used this skill as a volunteer, teaching refugees in the UK and abroad. Committed to empowering people who seek asylum and enthusiastic about working with volunteers, Hannah is delighted to be part of the team at Asylum Welcome!
Adult and Family Advice Service Coordinator: Simon Dawson
Simon joined Asylum Welcome in June 2020 having previously volunteered with Asylum Welcome's Campsfield Detention Support Team, and Adult & Family Services, as an advisor in 2016-17. He then moved to The British Red Cross Refugee Support Service where he worked as a casework coordinator across the Thames Valley, for 3 years.
Simon's passion for humanitarian work began while volunteering for a disaster response charity erecting temporary shelters for earthquake survivors in Sumatra, Indonesia, and a school building project in Haiti. His interest in displaced persons, refugee and asylum rights, developed while studying a BA in Social and Political Studies at Ruskin College and then carrying through his MA in International Political Economy at the University of Warwick. Simon is delighted to have returned to Asylum Welcome and embark on this new and exciting chapter.
Education and Employment Coordinator: Nicky Barnetson
Nicky joined Asylum Welcome in July 2020, having previously volunteered with Asylum Welcome's Adult & Family Services as an advisor in 2016. Nicky has also worked at Refugee Resource in two capacities, as the Citizens Advice adviser and as the Partnership Development Manager (fundraising and communications).
Nicky originally had a career in marketing. She decided to take some time out to volunteer in Cambodia which led to her staying for four years and setting up a charity to work with prisoners and released prisoners. Returning with a passion for working with the marginalised, Nicky combined her commercial experience with her knowledge gained in Cambodia. She took on the role of Head of Private Sector Strategy at Oxfam UK, and subsequently became Director of Corporate Partnerships at WWF. Nicky loves frontline work and is delighted to be back at Asylum Welcome helping to develop the education and employment service.
Assistant Youth and Services Coordinator: Caritas Umulisa
Val Johnson, Co-Chair
Val recently retired from a career in local government at Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council. Her roles included Neighbourhood Renewal Manager and Policy and Partnership Manager and she worked closely with the Health and Wellbeing Board, Community Safety Partnerships and the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Board.
Val coordinated Oxford City Council’s Resettlement Programme for Syrian refugees and was very supportive of Asylum Welcome’s role in that programme.
Tony Samuel, Co-Chair
Tony has been supporting Asylum Welcome with its Fundraising programme since 2015. Tony was recently Director of Fundraising and Communications at Freedom from Torture, raising funds through a wide range of fundraising projects to help survivors of torture who are refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.
Before that Tony worked for a range of small and large charities, including Oxfam in the 1990s, and for a number of marketing agencies. For 10 years Tony was also a Trustee of Asylum Aid in London, which provided legal support to asylum seekers in the UK.
Tom Espley, Treasurer
Tom has been Treasurer of Asylum Welcome since 2019. He is Global Canopy's Chief Financial Officer. Since qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Tom has spent 15 years working and volunteering to support NGOs and Social Enterprises with their financial management. He has a passion for social & environmental justice.
Dr Tina Leonard
Tina worked as a medical research scientist with a particular interest in evidence-based decision making, disseminating good practice and improving the quality and effectiveness of services and organisations. Tina has been a volunteer with AW since 2008, mainly helping with fundraising and other ‘behind the scenes’ activities.
Clare co-founded Turpin and Miller solicitors and worked as an immigration solicitor there for 14 years, specialising in asylum and detention. Individual clients are frequently referred back and forth between the law firm and Asylum Welcome, so Clare worked alongside the charity throughout that time to support and represent people through asylum and immigration processes, and to make the case for release of those in detention.
Susan Ní Chríodáin
Susan spent 15 years working in international humanitarian and development organisations including GOAL in East Africa, the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in the UK, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in Geneva. Susan began her career with Deloitte, in Ireland, and is a Chartered Accountant.
Now, in Oxford, Susan has her own business ‘Beyond The Numbers’ and has a keen interest in AW's work.
David has a background in communications and media, working for the BBC as a journalist on ‘Newsnight’, Editor for ‘Analysis’ on Radio 4 and then as the BBC’s Controller for Public Policy.
Most recently, David was Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism within Oxford University where he is a Fellow of Green Templeton College. He has experience as a Board Member for several organisations, including the UK Statistics Authority and Reporters without Borders. He has a long-standing interest in asylum and refugees and experience of providing support for detainees on release from Campsfield.
Lucy has a background in communications and media. She is Head of Communications for Impetus, an organisation that supports disadvantaged young people get into education and employment.
She was formerly Media Manager for the International Rescue Committee and the British Red Cross. Prior to moving into the charity sector, she worked as a journalist and producer at Channel 4 News, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Al Jazeera English. Lucy has experience of working as a volunteer at Witney Refugee Action Group, including fundraising and advocating for West Oxfordshire District Council to provide adequate support to the town’s resettled refugees. Lucy was a Trustee with The David Nott Foundation, supporting the training of medics in war zones, and was also a supporter of Asylum Welcome as a teenager.
Linda Guma Bond
Linda works in the NHS as a Mental Health Social Worker, with qualifications from Uganda and the UK, and she recently completed a course at the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford. Linda has extensive social work experience in counselling, child protection and community development both in the UK and in war-torn northern Uganda, including work with refugees in both contexts. Linda has Ugandan nationality.
Abdoul Ma Aly Diallo
Abdoul is a senior accountant at Oxfam. He qualified from Dakar University, then worked for the Federation of Red Cross Societies. Abdoul worked with Oxfam in West Africa before moving to the Oxfam office in Oxford. Abdoul is the son of refugee parents, who fled Guinea to settle in Senegal: ‘As a child I was a foreigner, I couldn’t speak the local language’. He explains that this has inspired his charity work. Abdoul has Senegalese nationality.
Refugee Community Leadership
Asylum Welcome supports refugees who have the vision and commitment to organise community activities to improve the wellbeing of other refugees. They provide amazing support to people who would otherwise be isolated. The feedback that they give us helps ensure that Asylum Welcome's work stays relevant.
Asylum Welcome is working with the following refugee community leaders.
Dr. Ashraf Abbas Abdelfatah
Ashraf has a masters in law, and is working as a teacher in Oxfordshire. He is active in the Sudanese social group "The Doctors of Cowley Road".
Grace devotes a lot of her time and energy to supporting women at the BKLuwo group, which was originally founded by Filda her mother.
Hassan plays a leading role in the Somali community in Oxford. He is also passionate about football and runs 'East Oxford United': a youth team that reflects the diversity of East Oxford.
Nuha Abdo is a sociologist from Syria who worked with Danish Refugee Council in Damascus for 3 years before coming to the UK in 2016. Since arriving in Oxford she has set up a Syrian women's group and is active in assisting recently arrived Syrian families to settle in the city.
Hadi Al Nouri
Hadi arrived in Oxford in 2015 and works hard to build a network in which all Syrians feel equally welcome, whatever their background. He used to own a travel agency in Syria and now he puts this experience to good use by organising days out for Syrian families.
Acasio is an active member of Oxford's East Timor community and is committed to addressing problems of isolation in that community.
Rana Ibrahim is an Iraqi archaeologist, a freelance artist and the founder of Iraqi Women Art and War (IWAW) project. She is currently working with Iraqi women based in Oxfordshire, mapping Iraqi women and helping them capture their oral stories of war survival through art. The project will culminate in a new exhibition, ‘Of Ordinary Things’, which will be exhibited online via IWAW website and exhibited physically at the Museum of Oxford later in 2021.
Rana has MA Museum Studies from Newcastle University in 2009, and works with GLAM at the University of Oxford, and recently worked at History of Science Museum, as a Collection Project Officer and part of a project team called Multaka Oxford. IWAW project started in 2021 welcoming vulnerable women from different background to join them.
A graduate from Durham University, I started my career as a writer for The Times before joining the BBC as an associate producer. I subsequently moved into drama and later became The Redwing Film company's Head of Film and TV. I am currently writing a novel and political thriller set in Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. In Oxford I founded the children’s art charity, Young Art Oxford, which exhibits paintings from around 40 schools in Oxfordshire and celebrates its 10th anniversary this year having raised over £1 million for research into children’s cancer.
I am heading a team with raising money for an NGO school in Beirut that will be central to identifying Syrian refugee children for Oxford’s Refugee Scholarships which is already in place at Sommerville College and will be rolled out across all Oxford colleges over the coming years.