About Us

Bekele Woyecha

DIRECTOR

Jon Cornejo

Head of Communications & Campaigns

Clare Roberts

Membership Organiser

Bekele is the Director of UK Welcomes Refugees, an organisation set up to build Community Sponsorship together with others and strengthen the Community Sponsorship movement. He was one of the founders of Sponsor Refugees Foundation, where he worked as a Senior Project Manager until June 2020. Bekele has been highly involved in the Refugee Welcome movement in the UK since 2015 and was among the pioneers of the Community Sponsorship scheme in the UK. He worked as a Community Organiser with Citizens UK for over 9 years in different capacities. Bekele was the Human Rights Defender Fellow of the University of Nottingham in 2009, where he studied International Human Rights Law. He also studied Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, USÁ. Bekele also attended the Global Change Agents Program at Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University. Bekele was the 2018 Churchill Fellow which took him to Canada to study about Canada’s Refugee Sponsorship program. Bekele is working with locals in Croydon to build a Community Sponsorship group and welcome a family through the scheme.

Bekele was a former refugee. Before moving to the UK, he held senior managerial positions in government departments in Ethiopia. Bekele also studied at the Addis Ababa University and graduated with BA Degree in Management in 1992. Outside of work, Bekele serves as a trustee for a charity and as a chairman of the local school’s parents council. He was one of the Games Makers at the London 2012 Olympics and NHS volunteer responder. Bekele says, “My experience of Community Sponsorship is that it changes power dynamics as the partnership between community sponsors and sponsored families is that of friends.”

Bekele regularly writes on his blog,  and tweets.

Jon Cornejo is Head of Communications & Campaigns at UK Welcomes Refugees, an organisation set up to build and strengthen the community sponsorship movement in the UK. He was a Campaign Manager at Save the Children UK where he led mobilising campaigns to protect children living in conflict. Before that he worked at Amnesty International UK where he led reactive campaigns to human rights crises around the world. He is also an Organiser at Charity So White, a collective led by people of colour working in the charity sector which has transformed the narrative on diversity and racism in the charity sector. He has delivered talks and training sessions on racism in the charity sector and how to move towards anti-racist approaches in our work and organisations.

A former refugee, he came with his family from Ecuador in 1997 seeking asylum. He knows how isolating the experience of coming to the UK as a refugee can be and how valuable community sponsorship could be in helping build the connections and support needed for refugees to thrive in their new lives. He is a passionate about advocating and campaigning for refugee rights, and believes that it is vital that we place their voices and experiences front and centre in our activism.

Jon tweets regularly and you can follow him here: @Jon_Cornejo

Clare joins UK Welcomes Refugees with a background in the civil society sector, with a particular emphasis on the Middle East region and support for refugees. She has a BA in Arabic and Islamic Studies and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies. She previously worked at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, the Asfari Foundation (a grant-making foundation working to strengthen civil society and support humanitarian relief initiatives in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine) and Gingko Library (a London-based charity working to promote a better understanding of the Middle East and North Africa). She is a trustee of the Banipal Trust for Arabic Literature. Clare has volunteered extensively with refugee welcome initiatives in London and Guildford. She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Clare says: ‘I am excited by the potential of Community Sponsorship to empower sponsored families and sponsors alike. I believe passionately in its long-term power to transform societies for the better.’

OUR BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Neil Jameson CBE

EXECUTIVE CHAIR

Abigail Robinson

Rabbi Danny Rich

Esmat Jeraj

Paul Eedle

Helen Greig

Mark Wiggin

Nour Sakr

Sir Peter Martin Fahy QPM

Ahmad Al-Rashid

Colin Weatherup