SRS Trustees

The role of Trustees

As a Board, our Trustees are responsible for the governance of Suffolk Refugee Support, ensuring that it is well run and financially viable.

SRS has a proven track record of delivering much needed, high quality services that positively support the lives of those we work with. This also requires us to be flexible and responsive to the changing world faced by refugees and asylum seekers and the developing requirements of our funders. The Board is committed to ensuring that this track record continues and that asylum seekers and refugees in Suffolk are given the best opportunities to build the lives they wish for themselves. To guide us, we have agreed an SRS three year strategic plan for 2020-23, with Trustees having responsibility for leading and supporting its delivery.

Trustees meet once a month (the second Thursday, 6.30 – 8.30), currently alternating between face to face and Zoom meetings. We encourage them to join one of the sub-committees (which also meet once a month). Many of our current trustee body work full-time in their own careers, and sub-committee meetings are organised around their availability.

If you are interested in becoming a Trustee, please contact trusteesecretary@suffolkrefugee.org.uk to find out if there are any current vacancies and then apply using the Trustee Offer To Serve form.

Our current trustees

Our current trustees bring a wealth of experience from the private, public, voluntary and academic sectors:

Gerry Toplis (chair) has worked in social services as a social worker, commissioner and senior manager. He also worked for the NHS across the east of England, focusing on mental health and learning disability issues.

Dr Keith Faull (vice chair and treasurer) has worked in both social services and the NHS for many years as both a social worker and a family psychotherapist.  He is particularly interested in the mental health of children and young people.

Will Atkins is a writer who has been interested in issues around migration, refuge, exile and displacement for many years. He has volunteered with Walthamstow Migrant Information Centre in London, and with aid organisations assisting migrants on the US-Mexico border – a subject he has also written about.

Kevin Clements has spent 15 years building fundraising and marketing teams for causes including hospices, neurological care, mental health, scientific research and homelessness. He is currently Director of Fundraising with East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, where he leads the team across the Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk region.

Greg Dodds has worked in housing for over 20 years in various capacities for both housing associations and local authorities and is currently Assistant Director of Development at Orwell Housing Association. He also currently volunteers with SRS.

Mary Engleheart is a communications professional with twelve years’ experience working for international humanitarian organisations. She currently leads on global digital communications strategies at the International Rescue Committee, and has worked with grassroots refugee organisations in the UK.

Christina Sweet-Escott moved to the UK from Germany in 2001. The former editor in chief of several international publications, Christina’s background is in marketing, PR and journalism. She works for Suffolk County Council and serves on the Suffolk Refugee Support Client Partnership sub-committee.

Felicity Szesnat has previously represented detained asylum seekers in their claims for refugee status. She holds a PhD in International Law, specialising in international humanitarian (armed conflict) and human rights law, and currently works at the University of Essex, managing a consortium of ten UK universities focused on the social sciences.

Amelia Whitworth has 15 years’ experience working for humanitarian charities in policy, lobbying and research. For the last 10 years this has focused on gender equality and child rights, particularly those who have been forcibly displaced by conflict or natural disasters.

Alan Blackshaw (honorary trustee) spent most of his career in social work education.  He was a founder trustee of SRS in 2000, and has been treasurer and chair of the Human Resources sub-committee.

Beteja Grajqevci Dovao (honorary trustee)