Core Team

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 Tamsyn Brewster

Co Founder

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Anna Jones

Co Founder

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Johnny Sattin (& Sacha)

Equal Access Loan Programme

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Kate Higgins

Team Coordinator

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Niamh Furey

Employment and Requalification Lead

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Zeinab Aboutak

Language UK Programme

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Hakeem Ulusow

Language UK Programme

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Emma Weinstein Sheffield

Language UK Programme

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Mohib Ullah

Language UK Programme

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Farah AlHaddad

Language UK Programme


Job Opportunities

 

Associates & Consultant Staff

Trustees

Morgan Kainth, Laura Godsal, Olivia Scarlett

 

Legal

Wupya Nandap & Peter Schaffer - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP


Our Story

In September 2015, RefuAid co-founders Tamsyn and Anna hadn’t ever met.  They had both been following the events unfolding in Calais and the Mediterranean over the summer of 2015 with horror. Tamsyn’s background was corporate and non-profit recruitment and following the birth of her two daughters had been a stay at home mum.  Anna studied International Relations with a particular emphasis on Darfur and had worked for a small refugee charity in Melbourne, Australia prior to returning home to begin legal training. 

Desperate to do something to help those arriving in Europe,  Anna and Tamsyn joined a local refugees welcome Facebook group. On the day that the image of Aylan Kurdi was on the front page of every UK paper, Tamsyn wrote a post in the Facebook group, hoping to connect with local people wanting to proactively and practically help.  Anna and a surgeon named Luke replied and they arranged to meet at a local café to discuss what they could do. 

Volunteer doctors from RefuAid during handover with MSF, Leros 2015.

Volunteer doctors from RefuAid during handover with MSF, Leros 2015.

2 weeks later, the trio had organised a voluntary medical team of doctors and nurses and sourced 17kg of medication to go out to Lesvos, Greece.  What Anna, Luke and Tamsyn witnessed on the Greek islands was horrific, a lack of basic sanitation and medical care that was costing lives, a lack of engagement with the local community who wanted to help but lacked basic resources and a lack of a long-term approach that meant people were put into camps and left with no access to independence. 

Once home,  Anna and Tamsyn struggled to return to everyday life having witnessed so much need and identifying clear gaps in the support provided. It was clear to both women that those arriving were capable and wanted to live independently yet outdated attitudes and a hostile immigration policy was preventing this. In November 2016, Tamsyn found a wonderful childminder, Anna quit her job and they decided to make RefuAid a full-time job.  “We want to challenge the negative rhetoric surrounding refugees and show that, given the right support, refugees and asylum seekers can be an asset both economically and culturally to their host communities.  Since founding RefuAid we have met so many incredibly determined people who with the right support, have flourished, become fully independent and no longer need to rely on aid or handouts.”

RefuAid has supported many people gain independence in both Greece and the UK and we are now focusing our efforts on three key barriers to access for refugees with leave to remain, trying to restart their life in the UK: finance and re-qualification, language tuition and specialist employment advice.

The language project has supported 120+ students via language tuition and certification, while bespoke career guidance makes use of a national network of corporate partners providing work placements, mentoring and job opportunities.

A ‘character-based’ loan scheme offers interest-free loans of £10,000, for internationally-trained refugees to pay for UK accreditation and requalification, to return to employment in their prior professional field. With a 100 per cent repayment rate after six months, and applicants gaining employment commensurate with their skills, this is a radical approach with clear, positive impact. A family reunification loan is now in the planning stage.

Under the banner of ‘Hope; Resilience; Unity’, we require and hope to generate plenty of all three.

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