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Board of Trustees (Executive Committee)
Accurate as of May 2018
Simon Underwood – Chair of the Board
Simon joined the Board in 2014 and currently is chair of the board. He has a varied background in work for community organisations and has held senior positions within housing associations, charities, consultancies and local government. He has undertaken a range of work with asylum seekers, refugees and migrants at a local, national and EU level over the last 20 years. Between 2006 and 2012 he was the lead officer for Newcastle City Council’s work with migrants and refugees and responsible for supporting the work of the regional Strategic Migration Partnership. Simon is now a freelance consultant who works with public and voluntary sector clients, mostly on organisational development and training commissions.
Ann Schofield joined the Board in 2016 having actively supported NERS as Labour Councillor for Elswick Ward. Ann brings to the Board experience in Adult Education and Life Long Learning for people without qualifications or skills needed for study and jobs. This includes supporting asylum seekers, refugees and people in settled ethnic minority communities for whom English is not their first language and who face many barriers to their health and wellbeing. Ann has strong links with Palestinian refugee and educational projects for young people. Last year she was part of a Newcastle delegation to Bangladesh and is an active member of a Newcastle Group supporting the Rohingya people who are living in the refugee camps on the Border with Myanmar.
David has a law degree from Nottingham Trent University and an MSc in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development from Northumbria University. He works in international development as a programme manager for organisations like the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). He has over ten years of experience in work in emergency and post conflict settings. He is skilled in strategic planning, project management, training, monitoring and evaluation and civil society development. David joined NERS as an adviser to the board in 2016 and became a trustee in 2018. He now chairs our Business Development and Communications Sub Committee
GRAHAM TAYLOR OBE
Graham has been a Trustee since 2006. He is a Quaker and was invited to join the Board by Warren Adams, one of the founders of NERS and an inspiration to many members of the Religious society of Friends (Quakers) in the region. Graham worked in the Civil Service and Local Government all his working life. A botanist by training he held senior posts in countryside and protected area management, culminating in the Chief Executive post in the Northumberland National Park. Although he would be the first to accept that he has no particular personal experience or knowledge of refugee or asylum matters he hopes his managerial and strategic planning experience has been of value in guiding NERS’ development.
Ibrahim came to the UK in 2009 from Guinea in West Africa. His experience with refuges started in Guinea as young man, when the outbreak of the civil strife in Liberia and Sierra Leone in 1990/1991 led to an influx of refugees into Guinea. He joined NERS in 2011 as a volunteer working on administration in our Teesside office. Ibrahim has also worked with refugee community organisations around the North East giving help and advice under the umbrella of the Regional Refugee Forum (RRF). He joined the board of NERS in 2016.
LARRY AMADI AMINA
Larry came to the UK about 13 years ago from Nigeria. His experience there with refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution, helped to shape his view that human beings are being dehumanized by their fellow human beings, including via the unfavourable policies being put in place by the UK Government that make life most miserable for asylum seekers. Larry has worked as a volunteer asylum support adviser for NERS since 2013 when he moved to Middlesbrough with his family. He joined the NERS Board in 2016. He is also a board member of the Regional Refugee Forum and an adviser in several other charities, including; Justice First, the Mary Thompson Fund, Investing in People and Culture (IPC) and the Middlesbrough Citizens Advice Bureau.
Mavreen is employed in the NHS as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. She came to the UK from Zimbabwe 15 years ago. Her knowledge of the refugee sector is based on her own experience. A placement as a student social worker at NERS gave her insight into how the organisation operates. Mavreen has been involved in service delivery within the health and social care sector for over a decade. Her experience includes working with partner organisations to build networks for the betterment of the services and the people that use the service. She has experience in advocacy, policy development and research all acquired through the work she does within the NE Region as a trades union member. Mavreen is the vice chair of a Black members self-organised union group, working closely with black members within the region to improve equality in the workplace and challenge racism and discrimination. She joined the NERS Board in 2016.
Shamiso joined the board in 2016. She is originally from Zimbabwe and came to the UK in 2002. Shamiso is a qualified accountant, (BA Hons Accounting, ACCA Dip, AAT Dip, AICB) who works as Director for an organisation called SME Northeast Networking CIC. This organisation’s mission is to enable disadvantaged Black and Ethnic Minority Ethnic (BME) people to access the business community in a way that positively impacts on their lives and the local economy. At NERS Shamiso is currently the Treasurer and chairs the organisation’s Finance and Fundraising Sub Committee.
Valerie has extensive experience at chief officer level in both local government and the voluntary sector, serving as Assistant Chief Executive in London, Head of Community Affairs and Head of Voluntary Sector Grant Aid in two other London Boroughs. Prior to this she had many years of experience in community development, working with community groups in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the UK. On her retirement, she worked as Director of West Kent Council for Voluntary Service before returning to her native North East where she helped raise £1.5million for local community projects in Alnwick. She has worked overseas in the USA and Sri Lanka with VSO and latterly as a Management Consultant in the UK. Valerie has extensive experience in fundraising, training and developing organisational policies which she brings to NERS. She joined the Board in 2012.