Our Team

Our work is delivered by an expert team of staff, and supported by volunteers, trustees and individuals currently in the asylum system who join our trustee team as part of our honorary trustee pathway.

Our Staff

Staff Team

CARAS team member - Myriam Abdel Basit

Myriam Abdel-Basit

Youth Caseworker

Myriam helps connect young people with services and support their needs. After completing a master’s in International Relations from University College Dublin, she has worked in various roles within refugee response including Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean Sea and running psychosocial support groups for children and teenagers in refugee camps in Greece as a Cultural Mediator. Myriam has previously worked with Médecins Sans Frontiers, Save The Children, and the Refugee Trauma Initiative.

CARAS team member - Molly Abraham

Molly Abraham

Head of Casework

Molly has worked for CARAS in various roles. She has previously managed both our adult and child services and is now focused on developing our casework provision. Molly is a registered social worker with a particular interest in working with separated children. She has studied both international development and social work at the master’s level. Previously, she worked at a social work center in Southern Morocco, and as a Local Authority social worker in the UK. Molly currently volunteers with Social Workers Without Borders and has spent time volunteering in both Greece and Calais.

CARAS team member - Eleanor Brown

Eleanor Brown

Managing Director

Eleanor has worked with young people throughout her professional life as a teacher and trainer both in the UK and abroad, before completing an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development. She has a strong interest in alternative education which supports the access and achievement of marginalised young people. She has contributed articles to publications and spoken at conferences about access to education for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

CARAS team member - Rosie Barry

Rosie Barry

Adult Programme Coordinator

Rosie has joined CARAS’s adult team having previously worked as the Youth Project Support and Engagement Intern. Originally from Manchester, she graduated from the University of Edinburgh in May 2021. As project coordinator she promotes the use of social programmes as a way for marginalised communities to participate, support, and empower themselves and others.

CARAS team member - Mirza Baig

Mirza Baig

Operations Manager

Mirza has previously worked at CARAS as Operations Officer, looking after the office operations, communications and volunteer coordination. Over the past few years Mirza has volunteered in local and national organisations in many capacities supporting human rights and the rights of asylum seekers/refugees. He has worked with all kinds of age groups from different communities through art, well-being and social work in charities including The Children’s Society, YMCA, MIND Lancashire and Refugee Council.

CARAS team member - Jamie Charnock

Jamie Charnock

Head of Development & Impact

Having graduated the University of Vienna with an MA in Human Rights, Jamie has spent five years working in the international refugee sector. Specializing in the inclusion and participation of marginalized groups, Jamie is a fervent believer in the power of human-centered design to build programs that help people create lives of value, meaning and purpose.

Envere Gllogjani

Finance Manager

Envere has extensive financial experience finance working for over seventeen years with different non-profit organisations including Alcohol Change UK, Become Charity, Central London Healthcare, and Brent Carers Centre. As Finance Manager at CARAS Envere is responsible for overseeing the organisation’s financial performance and providing financial support and guidance to ensure regulatory financial compliance.

CARAS team member - Atefeh Givian

Atefeh Givian

Development & Campaigns Manager

Atefeh specialises in research and project coordination with displaced communities, particularly with vulnerable groups such as women and children. She began supporting refugee communities in 2015, working with local initiatives and NGOs such as Internews, Doctors of the World, Melissa Network, and Translators without Borders, in Iran, UK, Northern France, and across Greece. She is the co-founder of a refugee and migrant-led organisation in Greece, training and supporting refugee communities in research and advocacy, and empowering refugees to shape and influence the aid they receive.

CARAS team member - Nick Hartston

Nick Hartston

Youth Supports Coordinator

Atefeh specialises in research and project coordination with displaced communities, particularly with vulnerable groups such as women and children. She began supporting refugee communities in 2015, working with local initiatives and NGOs such as Internews, Doctors of the World, Melissa Network, and Translators without Borders, in Iran, UK, Northern France, and across Greece. She is the co-founder of a refugee and migrant-led organisation in Greece, training and supporting refugee communities in research and advocacy, and empowering refugees to shape and influence the aid they receive.

Patrick Heaton-Armstrong

Adult Caseworker

Patrick helps adults to access services that meet their needs. He is an OISC-registered Immigration Adviser accredited at Level 2 Asylum and Protection and Level 1 Immigration. Before joining CARAS, Patrick worked as a caseworker for adult refugees and asylum seekers and as a support worker for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. He has an MA in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam and has previously spent time teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages in France, Italy and the Netherlands. He has also spent time volunteering in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

CARAS team member - Salma Istawani

Salma Istawani

Head of Youth Services

Salma is our new Head of Youth Services. After dedicating the last eight years of her professional life working with young people in a variety of settings, she found her passion in developing youth-led initiatives and creative programmes in collaboration with young refugees and asylum seekers. Salma has an MA in Applied Anthropology, Community & Youth Work and is also a practicing artist and graphic designer.

Hannah Kirkpatrick

English Teacher

Hannah has an MA in Social Anthropology of Development from SOAS, followed by an adult teaching qualification and 5 years teaching experience in two alternative education provisions. With a strong passion for teaching young people, Hannah began teaching numeracy at CARAS and the role then expanded to include teaching Digital Skills classes. Now teaching and coordinating the Get Ready for School program at CARAS, Hannah strongly believes in empowering young people through participatory education.

Claire Laslett

ESOL Teacher & Youth Coordinator

Hannah has an MA in Social Anthropology of Development from SOAS, followed by an adult teaching qualification and 5 years teaching experience in two alternative education provisions. With a strong passion for teaching young people, Hannah began teaching numeracy at CARAS and the role then expanded to include teaching Digital Skills classes. Now teaching and coordinating the Get Ready for School program at CARAS, Hannah strongly believes in empowering young people through participatory education.

CARAS team member - Helen Mason

Helen Mason

Volunteer Development

Helen is an experienced Volunteers’ Manager and expert in best practice in volunteering. Helen has herself been a member of many volunteer teams and has worked professionally with volunteer teams in university, social services, social enterprise, trade union, arts, health and community settings across the UK. She is an accredited facilitator and project manager and used to supporting volunteers at all levels in organisations. Helen is a member of the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) and the Institute of Economic Development (IED) and has a Master of Sciences degree in Equal Opportunities Studies from the University of Southampton.

Alfie Smith

Youth Caseworker

Before completing his BA in International Development from the University of Sussex, Alfie spent 2 years working with various refugee response organisations providing emergency services to displaced people in Calais and Dunkirk. He has experience supporting young people with complex needs in social care as well as facilitating their access to paid work. Alfie believes strongly in working to empower young people and ensure their needs are met through advocacy and holistic support.

CARAS team member - Suhashini Thomas

Suhashini Thoman

Head of Learning & Language Skills

Suhashini has an MA in Anthropology of Development and Human Rights from Goldsmiths University of London. She has researched Disability Rights in the context of women and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and volunteered at a social organisation for migrant children in Bangalore and a charity supporting adults into employment in London. She previously gained her experience in adult education through ELT teaching and ten years of publishing work in India, Oman and the UK. Before joining CARAS she taught EAL to middle-school students in an international school in India. Suhashini is keen to make a positive impact on social mobility through inclusive education and brings her ELT background and ethnographic research skills to her role at CARAS.

Georgia Vakalis

English Teacher

Georgia has a BA from Monash University, majoring in English Literature and Politics, and a PG Dip of Marketing, Swinburn University. Accredited through English for Asia, Georgia has worked with ethnic minorities in Hong Kong and found her passion in bridging the gap for marginalised people through educations and language acquisition. Georgia volunteered with CARAS for 2 years as a teacher support before joining the team as lead teacher for Adult ESOL at CARAS. She is focused on participatory learning as a means to empower refugees and asylum seekers to achieve their personal goals and ensure that they can effectively integrate into their local community and not lose their voice for issues that matter to them.

CARAS team member - Maria Wardale

Maria Wardale

Head of Adult Inclusion

Maria has over five years’ experience working and volunteering within the refugee sector in the UK and has supported a number of creative participatory projects with marginalised communities. She has an MA in Migration and Global Development from the University of Sussex. Maria firmly believes in the importance of a person-centred and collaborative approach with those she works with.

Hannah Whitley

Youth Coordinator

After volunteering with young people for 4 years at CARAS Hannah joined the team as the Youth Coordinator. She has spent time working in the charity sector since moving to London in 2018, and has worked with refugees and asylum seekers in North West London during her time at New Citizens Gateway . Hannah is passionate about the integration of young refugees into the community and believes strongly in the importance of youth led activities and leadership.

Trustees

Filimon Fikremaryam

Student

Filimon has been involved with CARAS activities for several years and is at the forefront of supporting young people at CARAS to learn new skills, support each other and speak out about their passions and experience. He is currently studying for his Electrician’s level 3 diploma.

Rishiraj Goenka

Manager, Ring-fenced Bank Treasury at Lloyds Banking Group

Rishi is a banking professional with expertise in treasury management. He brings to the board a wide range of skills including deep involvement with the community, exemplified by his position as a governor of a local primary school.

Helen Gribble

HR Director, One Fine Stay

Helen is a Board Level HR Director with experience in the Construction, Financial Services and Retail industries in both the UK and New Zealand. Her experience has included managing large scale projects and teams. Helen has undertaken advocacy work for South London Refugee Association, travelled to the Calais and Dunkirk camps and is also the Chair of Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees. Currently her focus is assisting refugees into employment in the UK.

Keith McGuiness

Investment Writer

Keith is a freelance writer specialising in the finance industry. His experience includes copywriting, investment writing and journalism. He has been volunteering with CARAS since December 2013, particularly working in and at times leading our youth projects.

Matt Peplar

Director of Development, Museum of London

Matt is leading the fundraising campaign to create a major new museum for London in Smithfield – a project in partnership with the GLA and the City of London. Matt has nearly 20 years of fundraising experience as well as eight years of board level strategic leadership. He is also a director of the non-profit social enterprise, Embrace Finance, and is interested in issues relating to poverty, inequality and migration.

Suhan Rajkumar

Charity & Social Enterprise Solicitor

Suhan is a lawyer who specialises in advising charities and social enterprises, and joined the board of CARAS in 2019. In his professional life, Suhan works with all sorts of not-for-profits, from household names to local start-ups – with particular focuses on helping international development and humanitarian aid charities, and advising UK organisations delivering public services.

Honorary Trustees

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