Our work is run by a small and dedicated staff team, and over 200 volunteers. Around 20% of our staff come from a refugee background..
Mark Goldring - Director
I became Director of Asylum Welcome in April 2020, having previously led Oxfam, Mencap and VSO. I have worked as a trustee of and consultant to charities of all sizes. My 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, I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a difference in a practical way closer to home. I studied law at Oxford and have a Masters in Social Policy from LSE.
Almas Farzi (‘Navid’)
Almas Farzi (‘Navid’) - Services Director
(Almas Farzi, also known as Navid) I worked as a teacher and a head teacher in Iran. I have a Diploma in Management and obtained a degree in Politics with Social Policy at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
I worked for the British Refugee Council for 14 years as an adviser and have registered as an immigration adviser with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
Dr Gilberto Estrada Harris
Fundraising, Development and Communications Manager.
Dr Gilberto Estrada Harris - Fundraising, Development and Communications Manager
I am passionate about making Oxford a safe, welcoming place where people can thrive and enjoy an independent life of dignity and respect. I 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 my 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, I have seven years’ research and fieldwork exposure to conflict-generated refugees though my 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). My research is 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 my doctoral studies, I was the creator, writer, producer and anchor of a Mexican TV programme that delivered international political and conflict analysis. I also co-founded an umbrella civil society organisation in defence of the environment and human rights in Mexico.
Finance and Contracts Manager
Jackie McDowell - Finance and Contracts Manager
I joined Asylum Welcome in January 2019, having worked in finance in the voluntary sector for 10 years. I have a postgraduate diploma in Charity Finance and Management from the Cass Business School. I love being part of such a passionate, committed team and I am awe of the depth and breadth of the work carried out at Asylum Welcome.
Saeed Noaman - Office Manager
I joined Asylum Welcome in July 2018. I have a master’s degree in Business Administration; I also previously worked as a Human Resources and Training Manager and as an Organisational Restructuring Consultant. I enjoy using my personal and professional experience to support the organisation and its clients.
Policy and Advocacy Coordinator
Hari Reed - Policy and Advocacy Coordinator
I coordinate the policy and advocacy work for a number of refugee and asylum organisations in the Thames Valley area. I am passionate about campaigning for refugee rights, and have previously volunteered for a range of refugee support initiatives in the UK, France and Belgium. I moved into the sector after completing a PhD at the University of Birmingham, where my research concerned the activist and grassroots voluntary response to the ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015-16.
Hannah Underwood - Volunteer Coordinator
I joined Asylum Welcome in July 2020, after completing an MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS University. Alongside my studies, I started working for another charity called Wycombe Refugee Partnership, where my role also involves supporting and coordinating volunteers.
Previously, after graduating from the University of St Andrews (MA Social Anthropology and Comparative Literature), I worked teaching English as a foreign language in Argentina, Uruguay and Spain. Since, I have 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, I am delighted to be part of the team at Asylum Welcome!
Adult and Family Advice Service Coordinator
Simon Dawson - Adult and Family Advice Service Coordinator
I 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. I then moved to the British Red Cross Refugee Support Service where I worked as a casework coordinator across the Thames Valley for 3 years.
My 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. My 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 my MA in International Political Economy at the University of Warwick. I am delighted to have returned to Asylum Welcome and embark on this new and exciting chapter.
Asylum & Immigration Advice Coordinator
Meena Patel - Asylum & Immigration Advice Coordinator
Prior to taking up this post, I worked as a senior manager at Southall Black Sisters (SBS) for 34 years. My work primarily entailed supporting black and minority women and children escaping violence and abuse and addressing related matters such as homelessness, immigration, and mental health problems. I have extensive frontline experience in providing advice and undertaking casework including representing high risk domestic abuse cases at multi-agency risk assessment conferences, and in advising and supporting women through their immigration/asylum, criminal and civil/family legal and appeal processes. Aside from advice and casework, I was involved in training, policy and campaigning work.
Youth Service Coordinator
Jess Beagant - Youth Service Coordinator
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.
Emma Jones - Communications Coordinator
My name is Emma and I’ve recently joined Asylum Welcome as Communications Coordinator.
I’m currently Co-Chair of Oxford Against Immigration Detention (part of the Coalition to Keep Campsfield Closed) and I was one of the co-founders of Sanctuary Hosting in 2015.
I helped to campaign for Oxford to become a City of Sanctuary, and have worked on a range of sanctuary-related projects, including the 2016 conference, “From Fortress Europe to Sanctuary Europe”, at the Refugee Studies Centre.
Huntercombe Project & Services Support Coordinator
Rhiannon Lovell - Huntercombe Project & Services Support Coordinator
Schools Advocacy Coordinator
Jan Dogar-Hurd - Schools Advocacy Coordinator
I joined Asylum Welcome as a volunteer Education Adviser in August 2020. I immediately felt aligned with the values of Asylum Welcome and through my experience and passion for education, supported clients and their families to access educational opportunities.
I believe that education is a vital pathway to personal growth and have embodied that belief in my career as a teacher, educational leader and volunteer.
I have worked in schools in Pakistan, Philippines, Hong Kong and Australia. Throughout my career I have always found opportunities to get involved in local charities, as a Board Member and Outreach and Fundraiser for The Children’s Academy of SW Florida, a school for children of the working poor, a mentor for vulnerable teenagers for The Smith Family in Australia, a trainer of local teachers for The Teachers Resource Centre, Karachi, Pakistan and a support parent for a local orphanage in Taipei.
Two years ago, I returned to the city where I was born and brought up. I loves Oxford and I am committed to contributing to its development and success.
I am now the Schools Advocacy Coordinator for Asylum Welcome. Together, with a team of 15 volunteers are working with local schools and refugee and asylum seeker families to increase access and engagement in the home school partnership, helping families to better support their children’s education.
Hala Mohammed – Reception / Welcome Centre Coordinator
Aiham Al Aswadi- Fundraising Assistant
Aiham Al Aswadi - Fundraising Assistant
I am a Yemeni refugee who first came to Asylum Welcome as a client. I started volunteering for Asylum Welcome in the Welcome Centre and then the Youth Service. I joined as Fundraising Assistant in February 2022.
Katie Forsyth- Resettlement Programme: Education, Employment and Volunteer Coordinator
Katie Forsyth - Resettlement Programme: Education, Employment and Volunteer Coordinator
I joined Asylum Welcome in January 2022, after completing a BA in German and Arabic at Oxford University in 2020. In the meantime I worked for the local charity KEEN, managing the Inclusive Oxfordshire project, which aims to make Oxfordshire fully accessible to disabled people.
I have also been volunteering for Jacari Oxford for 4 years, where I supports a local Iraqi family by providing English language tuition and support to integrate into the community. As part of my degree in Arabic, I spent a year living in Jordan, where I taught English to Syrian and Iraqi refugees and worked at a therapeutic ‘Kids Club’ in Amman.
I am really excited to join the team at Asylum Welcome and meet all of the wonderful people here!
Sarah Firth – Resettlement Programme: Families and Community Support Coordinator
Wahid Zarif – Resettlement Programme: Support Worker
Hello! My name is Wahid and I’m a Support Worker in the Resettlement Programme at Asylum Welcome.
Maria Sidonia Brindeu – Europa Welcome: Programme Support Officer
Maria Sidonia Brindeu
I am a recent Oxford Brookes Graduate currently studying for my Master’s. I began my journey with Asylum Welcome in 2020 as a volunteer, not knowing that it would never actually feel like working. I quickly developed a passion for helping vulnerable migrants succeed in their EUSS applications and also enjoyed providing the necessary help and support along the process. Due to the constantly changing nature of Immigration and the EUSS, it has remained a subject of great interest to me. Getting employed by Asylum Welcome has offered me the chance to continue fighting and supporting the lives of individuals who need it most. As for the future, I am hoping that I will be able to continue making a difference in people’s lives by practising as an Immigration Solicitor.
“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.