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.
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 Goldsmiths 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).
Dr Gilberto Estrada Harris - Fundraising, Development and Communications Manager
Gilberto is passionate about making Oxford a safe, welcoming place where people can thrive and enjoy an independent life of dignity and respect. He sees Asylum Welcome as an unfolding story—of the worst and the best of humanity brought together in one vibrant space. The weaving of powerful narratives is at the heart of his work to build support and solidarity and to help us understand who we are and how and why we do what we do; and to convey to the wider world what it is about Asylum Welcome’s work that is so moving, inspiring and worthy.
In addition to work experience as Head, Director of Studies Office, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), and in various strategic and administrative roles at the University of Oxford, Gilberto has seven years’ research and fieldwork exposure to conflict-generated refugees though his postgraduate and doctoral research specialising in peace and conflict in Norway (International Peace Research Institute of Oslo, PRIO), Australia (The Australian National University, ANU), Oxford (Department of International Development; St Antony’s College) and the United States (New York, Washington DC and Miami). Gilberto’s research focused on the role of transnational activist diasporas and conflict-generated refugees in military humanitarian interventions in order to end massive human rights abuses taking place in their home countries (Kosovo, Haiti, Colombia, Sri Lanka).
Before Gilberto’s doctoral studies, he was the creator, writer, producer and anchor of a Mexican TV programme that delivered international political and conflict analysis. He also co-founded an umbrella civil society organisation in defence of the environment and human rights in Mexico.
Jackie joined Asylum Welcome in January 2019, having worked in finance in the voluntary sector for 10 years. She has a postgraduate diploma in Charity Finance and Management from the Cass Business School. Jackie loves being part of such a passionate, committed team and is in awe of the depth and breadth of the work carried out at Asylum Welcome.
Saeed joined Asylum Welcome in July 2018. He has a master’s degree in Business Administration; he also previously worked as a Human Resources and Training Manager and as an Organisational Restructuring Consultant. Saeed enjoys using his personal and professional experience to support the organisation and its clients.
Helena Cullen - Youth Service Manager and Immigration Advice Lead
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.
Clara Della Croce - Huntercombe Prison Project Coordinator
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) in London and at Oxford Brookes University.
Siân is a recent graduate of Oxford Brookes University with an LLM in International Human Rights Law; she also has an LLB. Siân has been volunteering with Asylum Welcome since July 2019, both on the Europa Welcome Team and with AFS, and has really enjoyed the opportunities to help vulnerable people within Oxfordshire. In Siân’s spare time she also manages a pub in Oxfordshire and volunteers with young carers.
Before volunteering at Asylum Welcome, Siân volunteered with children and young people in different capacities and has always had a passion for helping vulnerable people. She is excited to be a part of Asylum Welcome’s team after having been a volunteer for so long.
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.
Hannah Underwood - Volunteer and Communication Coordinator
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 a 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!
Simon Dawson - Adult and Family Advice Service Coordinator
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 carried 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.
Nicky Barnetson - Education and Employment Service Coordinator
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.
Caritas joined Asylum Welcome in August 2020, after previously working for the organisation as both an employee and a volunteer. Caritas has strong experience in youth work and in supporting survivors of domestic abuse, which she brings to her role as Family Support and Youth Worker. Caritas is delighted to be working at Asylum Welcome again.
Nuha Abdo - Refugee and Migrant Community Support Coordinator
Nuha Abdo is a sociologist from Syria who worked with the Danish Refugee Council in Damascus for 3 years before coming to the UK in 2016. Since arriving in Oxford, Nuha set up a Syrian women’s group and is active in helping recently arrived Syrian families to settle in the city.
Rhiannon Lovell - Europa Welcome Team Administrator
Rhiannon previously trained as a musician, before then changing careers to work in safeguarding with children and young people. She joined Asylum Welcome in August 2019 as a volunteer adviser with Europa Welcome, before becoming the Team Administrator in October 2020. Alongside her role at Asylum Welcome, she also works in events management for one of the Oxford Colleges.
Jess joined Asylum Welcome in April 2021 after working as a Casework Coordinator for both the Refugee Council and the British Red Cross in London and across the Thames Valley. She also works at Refugee Resource in Oxford as the Social Inclusion Coordinator. Before working for the Red Cross, Jess volunteered with families resettled under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme in her local community. She has a masters in Development and Emergency Practice, specialising in forced migration and human rights, and she has worked in Calais as well as across East Africa, India and Lebanon.
Hari joined Asylum Welcome after completing her PhD at the University of Birmingham. Her research is concerned with the activist and grassroots voluntary response to the ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015-16. Hari is co-editor of the Refugee History project and, before joining Asylum Welcome, was involved with a range of campaigns and refugee support initiatives in the UK, France and Belgium.
“The entire team is trained to handle everyone as an individual and they are non-judgemental. I loved this most about Asylum Welcome. Very caring and kind staff. I always felt at home whenever I was at Asylum Welcome’s offices”client at Asylum Welcome.