Our Board

Neil Jameson CBE – Executive Chair

Neil was founder and Executive Director of Citizens UK from 1988 to 2018 and is now its Emeritus Director. He was responsible for driving the UK’s largest and most diverse Community Organising body and establishing broad-based Citizens Alliances in most large cities in England and Wales. Neil is first and foremost a Community Organiser – seeking out talented civic leaders and young organisers with the courage and commitment to organise with others democratically to strengthen civil society and pursue the common good. In 2018 he was awarded the Albert Medal for outstanding service to civil society by Royal Society of Arts. Neil has been at the heart of the Community Sponsorship movement in the UK and globally since it started in the UK in 2016. He recognises that Community Sponsorship requires organised teams of diverse civil society groups and businesses and that, done well, it is a very positive experience and benefit for both the Sponsor and the Sponsored. His experience suggests as Sponsorship grows and diversifies across the UK, this movement has the chance of challenging any negative narratives about refugees and will help strangers to become friends in this global world. With generous funding and commitment from the Volant Trust, and the support of Trustees, Neil founded Citizen UK’s ‘Sponsor Refugees Foundation’ in 2017 and was Executive Chair of the Advisory Board until March 2020.

Neil is an active member of two Community Sponsorship groups in London together with his wife, Jean: West End Welcomes Refugees and Whitechapel Welcomes Refugees. The Westend Welcome Group is an exciting partnership of three Christian congregations and welcomed its family in January 2020.

Neil says “Community Sponsorship has changed my life personally and publicly. Personally, my wife, family and friends are actively involved in two Sponsor Groups. My Quaker Meeting is formally Sponsoring the West End Group and has 15 members of the Meeting as excellent active volunteers. Every new registered Sponsor Group will help make sure that Britain remains a Welcoming country. I also welcome the healthy growth of more diverse Lead Sponsor Groups. This exciting development will give more and more citizens and their communities the privilege and mutual benefit of welcoming refugee families who are fleeing war, poverty and the climate crises a settled and welcoming home and future”

Abigail Robinson

Abigail is part of Amnesty International’s refugee and migrants rights team working to uncover rights violations, push for accountability and provide concrete solutions for refugees which are grounded in dignity. Since 2016, she has been working on community sponsorship in 8 locations around the world and can’t stop talking about it. As co-founder of the UK’s first work-based Community sponsorship group she has seen first-hand how transformative sponsorship can be for refugees and communities alike and is excited about the broader transformation it can have in the way the UK welcomes refugees. The Welcome Committee, which Abigail co-founded along with colleagues is a community group supporting two refugee families to settle in London – giving them the chance to rebuild their lives.

Rabbi Danny Rich

Rabbi Danny Rich was the Senior Rabbi & Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism from 2005 to 2020. Prior to this, he was Rabbi to Kingston Liberal Synagogue for nearly two decades. Rabbi Danny Rich is a Justice of the Peace, and a hospital and prison chaplain. He is a President of the Council of Christians & Jews and a member of the Council of Imams and Rabbis. He was the first joint chair of the National Refugee Welcome Board which pioneered the idea of community sponsorship of refugees in 2015. He was also the first chair of the Sponsor Refugees Foundation.

Rabbi Danny Rich helped to bring together two Jewish denominations, Liberal Judaism and Reform Judaism, which with the Hyderi Islamic Centre, founded the Abraham’s Tent Community Sponsorship group in South London. The group welcomed a family in 2019.

Esmat Jeraj

Esmat has over a decade of experience working in the charity sector, and currently works to build confidence and resilience amongst young people from disadvantaged communities, whilst promoting their participation in British democracy and civil society.

Prior to this, Esmat worked as a Community Organiser for Citizens UK, and was a founding manager of Sponsor Refugees. She previously led a national commission exploring barriers to Muslim participation in public life; and authored its report The Missing Muslims, which explored issues around integration, employment disadvantage and Islamophobia.

Outside of work, Esmat facilitates leadership training for young people and women from diaspora, as well as acting as a strategic advisor for a number of community organisations and charities. She is an active member of the Abraham’s Tent Community Sponsorship group.

Paul Eedle

Paul had a 40-year career as a journalist and editorial executive before retiring from media to write, sail an old working boat and volunteer with refugees. He speaks English, Arabic and French and as a correspondent and television producer reported from 24 countries on four continents.

During 17 years at Reuters, Paul covered the Iran-Iraq war, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and China’s democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. He started one of the internet’s first news networks, Out There News, in the 1990s, tracked Al Qaeda’s online propaganda after 9/11 and produced Channel 4 News’s award-winning coverage from Baghdad of the US-led invasion of Iraq. After that war, he helped to set up Iraq’s first independent news agency.

As Director of Programmes at Al Jazeera English from 2010-13, Paul led a team making 400 hours a year of documentary, magazine, and discussion programmes for a worldwide audience, initiating more than two dozen new series which won many awards.

Paul coordinates a Community Sponsorship group in north London which welcomed two Syrian families to live in Tottenham in March 2018. ‘The beauty of Community Sponsorship is that anyone can do it,’ Paul says. ‘All you need is a little organisation and determination, and you can help a desperate family to build a new life.’

Helen Greig

Helen has worked in the housing sector for more than 20 years in a variety of roles from support through to CEO.  Helen has been at the National Housing Federation since September 2017 and is currently seconded to the Building Better project, looking at Modern Methods of Construction.  Helen has been involved primarily in supported housing in her career including working as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Project in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, which led to her interest in community sponsorship as a longer-term, more sustainable response to the refugee crisis.’

Helen completed an MBA at Nottingham University in 2018 and graduated with a distinction.

Mark Wiggin

Mark is CEO of Caritas Diocese of Salford committed to promoting voluntary service to address exclusion and inequality though the practical application of Catholic social teaching. He has been a CEO since May 2009. Prior to that Mark was CEO of Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) and Assistant Director of Caritas Care (Diocese of Lancaster). Hence Mark has been in Caritas leadership for over 25 years.

Mark gained a Post Graduate Certificate in Management (PGCM) in Business Administration and Management from the University of Central Lancashire, Advanced Certificate in Youth and Community Studies from St. Martin’s College, University of Lancaster and a Master of Arts (M.A. Areas Studies) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London with a focus on Modern Politics, Religion and History of East Africa.  Mark also graduated from St. Mary’s University, Strawberry Hill, England, with B.Ed. in Movement Studies and History. Mark has special interests in Africa as he spent many years there.

Caritas Salford was the first organisation to resettle a refugee family through community sponsorship the UK outside London.

Mark says, “Community Sponsorship can transform the lives of a refugee family and the lives of the community that welcomes them. It can even change our view of the world and give expression to our passion for a kinder and more just world.”

Nour Sakr

Nour is a Pro Bono lawyer for an international Human Rights organisation and a former trustee of Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes where more than 50 children and their families resettled. She was also a very active campaigner of the Extend the Welcome Campaign along with leaders at Citizens UK. She co-chaired the summit in June 2018 which called for the extension of resettlement in the United Kingdom. She has provided refugee support at the British Red Cross since 2015 and legal research for Human Rights watch. Nour is a member of the Westend Welcomes Refugees Group where she is actively supporting the family that arrived through Community Sponsorship in January 2020.

Nour has a master’s degree in International Human Rights and Social Justice and a Bachelor of Law (LLB) in Criminal Law. She has a wealth of experience in commercial law and sustainable energy.

Sir Peter Martin Fahy QPM

Sir Peter is a retired senior British police officer who retired from the police force in 2015 after serving for 34 years. He was the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.

Sir Peter holds a degree in French and Spanish from the University of Hull, and a master’s degree from the University of East Anglia. He is a member of the US Police Executives Research Forum and previously sat on their board. He also took up a position of Chief Executive of the Street Children charity Retrak which he brought together with the modern slavery charity Hope for Justice. He now works for both  organisations as Director of Structural Change. Sir Peter is the chair of Plus Dane Housing Association and Chair of the National Housing Federation Refugee Network. He is also the founder and chair of the Community Cohesion charity We Stand Together and trustee of Care of Police Survivors and Redeeming Our Communities. Sir Peter is involved in community sponsorship of refugees locally where his group is in the process to welcome a family through community sponsorship.

Ahmad Al-Rashid

Ahmad is originally from Syria and now is based in the UK. He specialises in Cultural Orientation, Integration, Community Cohesion and Community Engagement.

Ahmad graduated with Master of Science (MSc) with concentration on Violence, Conflict and Development from SOAS, University of London. He also collected his Bachelor’s Degree in Literature English from Aleppo University, Syria, where he originally comes from.  Ahmad had also lived in Iraq where he worked as a volunteer teaching English in the Syrian refugee camps and later on joined the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as a senior Communication for Development (C4D) Facilitator.  His work gave him the opportunity to be in direct contact with Syrian refugees and Iraqi displaced people who have survived horrendous circumstances resulting from both conflicts in Iraq and Syria. In early 2015, Ahmad was forced to flee Iraq due to the deterioration of the security situation and moved to the UK in mid-2015. The journey took 55 days and was partly documented in the BBC documentary Exodus: Our Journey.

Colin Weatherup

Colin is Director at Greenhill Consulting Services Ltd, a charity fundraising consultancy, based in Hampshire. Colin has been providing fundraising services to charities for capital and revenue projects for over 15 years, specialising in fundraising strategy and implementation. Previously, Colin had careers in asset management and property investment. Colin has an MBA from the Open University and lives in Winchester with his wife, Amy, and three children.