We have appointed eight great trustees who will guide our strategic direction, offer valuable advice and ensure we are making the best possible decisions in the interests of the refugees we support.
I have been part of the Refugee Support family since 2016, volunteering and coordinating across various camps on numerous occasions. Most recently I supported Paul and a small team setting up The Dignity Centre in Moldova, aiding Ukrainian refugees. I am not only passionate about what Refugee Support does, but I am equally proud of the with the way we do it. ‘Aid with Dignity’ is far more than a strapline – it is the focal point of every conversation, every decision and every process. For those that don’t know me, please feel free to reach out. Career-wise, I am founder and MD of a recruitment business with offices based in the UK, specialising in catering & hospitality. I am fortunate enough to have a great team of colleagues who allow me the time to invest in this cause I feel strongly about. Outside of work, my family consists of my better half, Charlotte, who has also volunteered on several times and Betsie: an incredible little girl who, at two is already keeping me on my toes. After this I’m all about being outdoors: hiking, running, climbing, camping, any type of sport going… and I’m an avid Crossfitter but rarely mention it 😉
I was born during the Iranian revolution and lived as a refugee for two years before being granted asylum in the United States. I am the author of The Ungrateful Refugee—winner of the Geschwister Scholl Preis and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Kirkus Prize, and Elle Grand Prix des Lectrices, and called by the Observer "a work of astonishing, insistent importance." My essay of the same name was one of the Guardian's most widely read longreads in 2017, taught in schools across Europe, and anthologized by Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Nguyen, who wrote, "Dina Nayeri's powerful writing confronts issues that are key to the refugee experience." I traveled to Greece with Refugee Support in 2017 and 2018, my first visit to a refugee camp since living in one as a child. The experience was transformative and inspiring. I wrote about it in The Ungrateful Refugee and have been writing and speaking about Refugee Support since. A 2019-2020 fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, and winner of the 2018 UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize, I have won a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the O. Henry Prize, and Best American Short Stories, and was a finalist for the 2017 Rome Prize, among other honours. My work has been published in 20+ countries and in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, Granta, and many other publications. My playwriting work has been produced by the English Touring Theatre and The Old Vic in London and shortlisted for the Paines Plough Women's Prize. I have a BA from Princeton, and Master's degrees from Harvard Business School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Iowa Writers Workshop (where I was a Teaching Writing Fellow). I was an autumn 2021 Fellow at the American Library in Paris and recently joined the permanent faculty at University of St. Andrews.
I am author of best-selling book The Lightless Sky, an award winning campaigner and co-founder of My Bright Kite. I was forced to leave Afghanistan as a 12 year old boy and arrived in the UK in 2007, after a harrowing year-long journey. The Lightless Sky details the struggle, danger and resilience of that journey. I now have a Politics degree from The University of Manchester and a MPA at Coventry University. I've become a well-respected public speaker and a tireless political campaigner for refugee rights, social justice and education. I regularly give talks at schools, universities and conferences to encourage compassion and understanding for refugees. It is critical that charities appoint people with lived experience as refugees and asylum seekers into positions of influence. I will be giving Refugee Support Europe a strong campaigning voice and guiding how they support refugees around the world.
With a 25 year history in executive search I have built and run globally recognised talent management organisations. My entire career has been people focussed negotiating at the highest level and building lasting relationships with leaders of the world’s leading tech companies including Apple. Although driven to run profitable businesses I am a people person and one who understands how to build cultures in businesses and careers alike. My reasons for becoming a trustee are again people focussed. Watching news on the human flow from warring countries into refugee camps disturbed me utterly and in November 2017 I had the opportunity to do something. Refugee Support's ethos of providing aid with dignity was compelling and after an efficient and slick process I found myself in one of the camps in Greece where they operate, Filippiada. I went with my daughter to work in the camp and experienced the respect, passion and commitment that are the core values of Refugee Support. I returned to Katsikas in November 2018 where again I could see the real difference that Refugee Support makes to these brave but traumatised residents who truly appreciate their work whether it be in the form of a warm welcome, a weekly food shop including beautiful fruit and vegetables locally produced or in the provision of much needed clothes. I am entrepreneurial and creative and I hope to use these skills in my role as a trustee to fundraise within the corporate market and also to raise awareness.
With a long career helping SME’s to manage their finances and grow in a sustainable way, I helped Paul and John set up Refugee Support as a Charity in their early days. In fact I am proud to have been the first Trustee! I volunteered with RSE for the first time in 2016 and was so impressed with the vetting process, the clear aims and instructions received before arrival and while at the camp. It gave me confidence that the time I gave and money I raised were going to be used to really make a difference. My mother arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied 8 year old. As I grew up this fact was a big part of who we were as a family. My mother was a very strong woman and the moral compass she instilled in me and my three sisters was a high sense of right and wrong, as well as the need to be part of the community. For the past four years I have been heavily involved with the Community Sponsorship Scheme in my hometown helping, as a community, several refugee families settle in Falmouth. I have recently moved to Northern Ireland to be nearer to two of my grandchildren. I was honoured to be asked to be a trustee and am very aware of the responsibility I have to every stakeholder by accepting. I intend taking an active role once again in supporting RSE’s ongoing amazing work.
I started working with Refugee Support when Founder John Sloan rang me in March 2022. "We're setting up an operation in Moldova. Can you help". With good contacts in the region, I was able to help. And was hooked. Why...? I am fortunate to have worked in and visited over 70 countries - I was born in Malawi. While I have seen a lot of poverty, I also have met some of the kindest, able and happy people on earth. They often live normal, purposeful, and dignified lives. Dignity is key here. When I consider the plight of refugees, I see folk robbed of their homes, possessions, and livings. They seek refuge and are often met with hostility by would be hosts. This is what sets Refugee Support aside. We offer these people basic needs with dignity and a glimpse of hope. That is why I was hooked. My background. I am a biochemist with an MBA and a day job as Managing Director of Enchange, an international supply chain and route to market consultancy firm. I have worked with well over 100 organisations and led several 100's of projects, many of which have been transformational; the vast majority have delivered financial improvements from several £100k’s to over £40m. In addition to the governance duties of any trustee, my role at Refugee Support is to help scale and grow the organisation. When I can, I enjoy current affairs, most sport and participate in triathlon and sailing.
I’ve run a small business helping organisations, government and businesses communicate better with their customers and users for a couple of decades, and I became involved with Refugee Support when my old colleague and friend Paul Hutchings set it up with co-founder John Sloan. I helped out in the early days of the charity by gathering feedback from returning volunteers, and after listening to their stories and seeing the difference it had made in their lives as well as the lives of those they’re supporting in the Dignity Centres, I wanted to get more involved with the charity in whatever way I could. More recently it’s been my privilege and pleasure to be part of the volunteer interviewing team. The volunteers are a joy to meet - impressive, thoughtful, committed and caring, and. I’m looking forward to continuing the work to strengthen Refugee Support's volunteer community. I also hope to support marketing communications, as well as help with producing the evidence from monitoring and evaluation which funders need and value. Alongside the day job I do anything that doesn’t involve looking at a screen but mostly I knit, read, row and run.
I began my time with Refugee Support Europe whilst in Cyprus as the Centre Coordinator for the refugee charity, I dedicated seven months to coordinating our impactful projects before being asked by Paul to consider coming back to the UK and supporting the team there to identify and implement our first UK project- our Dignity Centre in Bournemouth My experience with the organization has fostered in me a deep commitment to being part of a solidarity network rooted in fundamental human principles and a global sense of community. I am particularly drawn to the distinctive approach of our model, especially in the distribution of aid, and I am eager to stand by the way in which refugee support operates, and upholding basic human values and dignity in humanitarian aid. I feel a profound connection to the organization, its mission, the beneficiaries we serve, and the dedicated individuals I collaborate with. It is both an honor and a privilege to contribute to the Board of Trustees, where I am committed to supporting the development and growth of our projects, aligning with our model's values and vision.