Our Ambassadors

The Community Sponsorship Ambassadors Scheme has been established to support groups who are considering community sponsorship. It matches interested groups with community leaders and refugees who have direct experience of community sponsorship, allowing them to share their stories and exchange best practise.

If you'd like a visit from one of ambassadors email us at [email protected] 

Our Ambassadors

Alaa Khattab

Alaa is former humanitarian worker in Syria, he has a Structural Engineering background and a master degree in International Development from the University in Birmingham. He has been working in construction, development and humanitarian sector through the private, and NGO sector over the past 12 years. Alaa supported two Sponsorship groups in Devon (Ottery Saint Mary, and Georgeham) through providing interpretation and cultural awareness to the hosting communities there. He is working currently at Embrace UK in supporting eight Syrian families who resettled in Haringey – London.


Rev David Butterworth

David encouraged the Methodist Church in Britain to be founder members of the National Refugee Welcome Board, informing the Community Sponsorship pilot. His Interfaith team were the first to be visited by the Home Office, and he was subsequently invited to speak in the initial committee stage in the House of Lords. A keen champion of refugee resettlement, David challenged Birmingham City Council to receive 50 Syrians, and welcomed a family through Community Sponsorship in February 2018. 


Eva Jonsson

Eva is a recent MA graduate in Development & Emergency Practice, specialising in Conflict and Humanitarian Action which took her took Greece and Turkey researching the refugee migration flow and EU's legal framework for her dissertation. Studying migration, trafficking, human rights & international development for her BA in 2005 lead to job with the Swedish Foreign Department as a migration case worker followed by WASH projects in the field to the private sector but much preferring the charity side of migration work she is now currently Vice Chair for Herne Hill Welcomes Refugees.


Ellie Stacey

Ellie is Vice-Chair of Bude Refugee Support Group, one of the first groups in Cornwall and in the UK to resettle families through community sponsorship. She sees the potential of community sponsorship not only to embrace, guide and support the most vulnerable into safety but also as a way to bring communities together by acknowledging  decency and their wish to help somehow, and by building on their kindness. Originally from London, she taught primary aged children in London and in Oxfordshire before moving into two headships. Her passion for the very best in education for everyone, to fulfil potential and transform lives continues, specialising in advice and support to the not-for-profit sector.


Lisa Westlake

Lisa is one of the co-founders of CHARIS, a charity that was formed by three churches in Taunton to offer hope and sanctuary to those affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. CHARIS is a community sponsor based in Somerset, they received their first family in 2017 with a second family due in 2018.  Lisa is a volunteer family resettlement coordinator for the first family; aswell as being a Trustee of CHARIS.  She has recently taken on the role in the region of building the capacity of Community Sponsorship in the South West.  She has personally been challenged, transformed and enriched by supporting a refugee familiy and is a keen advocate of other communities coming together and offering a generous welcome to those in need of support.


Paul Eedle

Paul Eedle learned Arabic in Damascus 40 years ago as part of a degree in Arabic which led him into a career in journalism. He reported for Reuters in the Middle East in the 1980s and 1990s and produced television reports and documentaries for Channel 4, Al Jazeera and the BBC in the 2000s. Paul coordinates a Community Sponsorship group in north London which welcomed two Syrian families to live in Tottenham in March 2018, and has been translating for an Iraqi family who resettled in Enfield in 2017.


Jill Simpson

Jill is a trustee of Croeso Arbeth, and acting chair. The group welcomed its first family in July 2017. It is a large, extended family of 6 adults, one teenager and now a new baby. The three Croeso (Welsh for Welcome) groups in Pembrokeshire are currently developing a model for how community sponsorship groups can work with the Local Authority in order to support more families. Jill has a background in education and is currently employed by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. Volunteering with Croeso Arberth has been an enriching and rewarding experience and it has been wonderful to play a part in how a small, rural community has embraced the family.



Tom Underwood

Tom is a member of Raynes park Community Church, the first group to bring a refugee family to London through the community sponsorship scheme. Tom has a long interest in peace. He previously wrote the play 'After Violence' based on stories of reconciliation from his interviews with perpetrators and survivors of violence from South Africa, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and many other places of conflict. During the last few years he has been involved in campaigning against the arms trade. Tom sees his work with refugees as a continuation of his passion for peace. Tom is a teacher in London working with teenagers with learning difficulties, with a particular focus on autism and drama. Outside of work he is the Chair of the MyRaynesPark Festival, an annual community arts festival which links in with Refugee Week.



Bob Goldsmith 

Bob was key to initiating the Muswell Hill Methodist Church’s Community Sponsorship Project in London to resettle a family from Syria. This followed a life in local government, managing and co-ordinating services at a neighbourhood level in partnership with residents’ groups and local service providers. Roles including leading estate regeneration programme, commissioning youth programmes and community development. This experience greatly assisted planning support for the newly arrived refugee family. Currently Bob is working on governance of schools. On a personal basis, Bob is the son of a German-Jewish refugee who arrived in 1939 as a young boy from Berlin. As a historian this inspired him to study successfully for a Masters Degree in European Jewish History, and now guides his commitment towards the humanitarian resettlement of Syrian families to London.



Dr Maggie Stringer

Maggie has worked with multi-cultural communities in South America and has a wide educational background working among Adults and young people in the UK. She is a Trustee of Croeso Abergwaun and the Co-ordinator of the ESOL programme. The group welcomed the first family in July 2017 two weeks before the end of the school year so a children’s programme was created in partnership with the Deputy Head of the Junior School where three of the children were scheduled to attend in the September. The baby stayed with mother. As the parents had virtually no English the language team began to develop a new model for English language learning called ‘Community ESOL’. The group welcomed a second young family in November 2018. Sharing the journeying of these two families is a privilege and especially rewarding as they become integrated as valued friends living and working in rural North Pembrokeshire.