Meet our leadership team

ACH Leadership team

Meet our leadership team

Senior staff

Fuad Mahamed

Chief Executive Officer

I founded ACH and Himilo to empower refugees and migrants in the UK to lead self-sufficient, ambitious lives while contributing to society and the economy. I am also dedicated to changing people's perceptions of refugees and migrants to ensure that human dignity is always put first.

Besides coffee, what gets me up in the morning is working with world-class colleagues, who together are making a real difference in people’s lives.

In my spare time, I enjoy watching and supporting Arsenal (when they’re winning anyway…) and spending time with my family and friends.

Working the last 15-years in this sector, I have the ability to build relationships and bridges between the community on the ground and policymakers. I have an MSc in Management from Lancaster Business School and went on to become a Clore Social Fellow for Refugee and Migrant communities and a Churchill Fellow.

Fuad regularly contributes to international and local events, speaking on the topic of refugee resettlement and integration, including previously featuring on BBC, ITV and Channel 4. To book Fuad, please submit an enquiry via our contact form.

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Richard Thickpenny

Chief Innovation Officer

So many community organisations are held in poverty by the challenges that come with attracting the necessary funding to drive change. At ACH I saw the opportunity to challenge this model and create a sustainable difference.

What gets me up in the morning, is being able to work with a great diverse team and to take their lived experience and understanding as inspiration to transform people’s lives.

In my spare time, I enjoy socialising, home-brewing craft Belgian ales and going to gigs.

20-years working in telecoms equipped me with the skills to visualise, manage and problem solve within multi-layered projects. This combined with mature student study developed a mindset focused on finding the right solution to the right problem. At ACH and Himilo this manifests in the innovative work I lead around refugee integration.

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Paul Hassan

Regional Partnerships Manager | South West

I joined ACH and Himilo because I am passionate about ensuring that the lives of refugees and migrants are positive, productive, peaceful, and I want to do my best to ensure their potential is fulfilled.

Apart from a jug of freshly brewed coffee, what gets me up in the morning is the belief that I am playing my very small part in making the world a better place for everyone.

In my spare time, I love cycling and going on country walks. I am looking forward to savouring these and doing more of both as we move out of the pandemic restrictions.

I’m a seasoned communicator and bring my skill in building bridges between groups and policymakers to effect positive change.

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Nimo Jirde

Financial Controller

I joined ACH to make a difference and help the organisation be sustainable for the long term by finding ways to diversify its revenue streams and improve efficiencies.

What gets me up in the morning is knowing that the work I do makes a difference in people’s lives.
 
In my spare time, I love reading and travelling.
 
I am a qualified financial professional and bring 10-years of experience working in Corporate Finance. I wanted to use all the skills and experience that I developed working in Corporate to transform ACH's finance team and help the company grow year on year.

Nevinder Ram

Operations Manager | Himilo

Having spent the majority of my adult life working in the Welfare to Work sector and witnessing the true cost of unemployment on people's lives, I joined Himilo to ensure refugees and other marginalised communities can achieve their full potential through innovative approaches to education and learning.

What gets me up in the morning, is knowing that I am blessed to be part of an organisation that is forward-thinking, and takes every opportunity to change the lives of so many individuals who have experienced significant hardships to come to the UK.

As many of my coworkers are probably aware, I am a dog owner! I enjoy taking him on country walks as well as travelling abroad.

I bring to Himilo over 30-years of experience in operational management in the Welfare to Work sector as well as working with policy.

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ACH Board

John William Wells

Chair

I joined ACH to do something I’m passionate about - to help develop and grow the organisation and integrate refugees and migrants into UK society.

To live life to the full, doing things I enjoy and am passionate about is what gets me up in the morning.

In my spare time, I enjoy socialising with family, friends and colleagues; reading, walking and playing golf.

I bring many years of experience in helping high growth businesses to grow using my strategic, financial, quality and general management skill and expertise.

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Elisabeth Buggins

I joined ACH to help refugees feel safe and welcomed and thrive.

The chance to connect with people to make the world a kinder, fairer place is what gets me up in the morning.

In my spare time, I enjoy gardening - trying to create order and beauty out of chaos!

I bring to ACH many years' experience of governance and board work, and of helping refugees and asylum seekers.

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Saida Bello

I joined ACH because I am an immigrant. I came to the U.K. in 1994 because my parents wanted me to have a better education and career prospects. I have lived experience of moving to another country and I want to support other people who have gone through similar or even more challenging life experiences.

My passion to support people is what gets me up in the morning. I believe we are all the same on the inside, and that diversity and inclusion are key to the success of all businesses.

Some of my favourite things to do in my spare time include taking my kids to the movies, watching Netflix with them, and going swimming or doing other outdoor activities to stay fit.

I am a qualified solicitor (currently non-practising) and bring to ACH 13-years of experience in housing law. I am also an MBA graduate with leadership and management experience.

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Rokneddin Shariat BSc, MBA

I joined ACH because their purpose is very relevant to my own life story and supporting people at a critical point in their lives can make all the difference. This is both to their quality of life as well as the society in which they are integrating.

What gets me up in the morning is making a positive difference to the lives of people who face challenges. Although I like being close to the people we serve, my experience is more suited to organisational development, so I serve on the board.

In my spare time, I love travelling and experiencing how different people live their lives. Seeing life from different perspectives is the most enriching experience.

I hope that my lived experience can bring some value to the organisation. I also bring finance, social value, IT and organisational development experience to ACH.

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Abdi Mohamed

I joined ACH to contribute and help the integration of refugees and new migrants via the promotion of the social and cultural capital they bring with them, coupled with my lived experience.

Improving, innovating the governance system that provides tools for the leadership and management of the organisation is what gets me up in the morning.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading and writing, and community activism particularly giving a voice to the youth and the elders.

I have skills and experience in community development, teaching and training, governance and policy, community journalism, and curiosity for positive habit development and leadership studies.

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Noelle Rumball

My experience of the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ was stark enough as a white, middle-class, English-speaker that I’ve been committed to supporting refugees in my country of adoption for many years. ACH does great things in the refugee space, not just locally, but nationally, and I love being a part of it.

What gets me up in the morning is my curiosity. I love any opportunity to learn, but I am most fascinated by people.

There is only one hobby I consistently find time and energy to do on cold, wet Thursday evenings when sensible people are tucked up under a duvet: non-executive board work! And I’ve had the great privilege to work with some absolutely phenomenal organisations, including this one.

I am a senior leader with 15-years’ board experience and particular expertise in the higher education and charity sectors.

Mashkura Begum

I joined ACH as I love the work they are leading on and wanted to play a role in advancing the ‘cause’ and be part of an organisation that is providing cutting edge services to migrant and refugees.

I am motivated by making a difference whether that incremental or big. When I can see I am part of something that is making a positive difference in an individual or within communities that gets me up in the morning!

In my spare time, I love reading and travelling with my husband and three children, South Asia is a personal favourite. I enjoy collecting stories from different communities using oral history methodology. This interest stems from the fact that I want to preserve the stories of those often not heard yet have been the backbone of British society.

I am a strategic thinker and get the ‘bigger picture’ having worked in various regeneration and community development programmes. I have a great deal of experience in governance in the not-for-profit sector and understand compliance and regulatory bodies’ requirements.

Antoinette Lynch

I joined ACH because in short, I liked what I saw and wanted to be a part of that growth. I witnessed the drive and ambition of the organisation to make a change and a difference within the Housing Sector.

What gets me up in the morning? A can-do, must do, don’t give up mentality. Unfortunately, nothing comes easy in life and every day brings a different challenge. I get up in the morning for my family, to make a difference for them and to create a future.

My favourite thing to do is to spend quality time with my family. I take pleasure in the simple things like going for a walk, trying to be healthier (although I may go off track sometimes) and making sure I keep in contact with family and friends.

After qualifying as a Barrister, I continued to practice immigration law and then laterally focused on Housing Law. In 2015 I trained to become a self-employed Special Educational Needs Mediator. Being from an ethnic minority, I’ve experienced and understand the impact inequality and social deprivation can have on a person’s development and self-worth.

Himilo Board

Balvir Dhillon

Chair

I joined Himilo as their values aligned with my own. I have a passion for helping refugees, asylum seekers, displaced and disadvantaged groups become active empowered citizens in their new country. I felt I could contribute towards their work and help its customers, clients, and staff by providing leadership to deliver their vision into a reality.

My sense of purpose is that my Guruji or God has granted me another day to do good for others, and I am humbled for this opportunity to change life for all.

In my spare time, I enjoy mentoring and coaching people to empower them to achieve what they originally felt they could not.

I am of Asian origin and an immigrant. I bring to Himilo the understanding of working towards becoming an active citizen whilst facing the constraints of entering a country where you do not understand the culture, value or language.

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David Jepson

I find it absurd that the talents and abilities of all people are not fully respected and utilised in the interests of us all. I believe that it is important not just to describe a problem but to try to solve it. ACH and Himilo’s work with refugees and migrants is doing just that.

What gets me up in the morning is either the alarm clock or better, the sun coming through the window!

In my spare time, I enjoy travelling, walking, eating, and cooking, but more importantly, learning new things and meeting new people.

I have 30-years of experience in economic development and labour market consultancy, as well as previously being an elected member of a major local authority; I believe these are useful experiences to bring to the governance of Himilo.

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Ted Fowler

I have long been interested in the new (“disruptive”) approaches to improving the life experiences of refugees that ACH and Himilo are developing. I joined Himilo to become a part of the dynamic, skilled and committed team and apply my knowledge and experience in the development and leadership of Social Enterprises.

What gets me up in the morning is the number of projects that I operate with a variety of foci, geographies and people.

My best days involve walking in the open country or talking and learning with enthusiastic people and sometimes planning what and how we should do next.

The most relevant experience I bring to Himilo is remembering being new: being new to Bristol without any locally employable skills or money and navigating the challenges and opportunities that come with urban life. I was lucky and found support and good people. After being a successful community-based social entrepreneur, I went on to develop Bristol-wide, regional, national, and then EU-wide policies and practise models for an inclusive economy.

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Laila Kasem

I strongly believe in ACH's mission to empower refugees and migrants who reside in the UK to lead self-sufficient and ambitious lives. Being from Syria, and an immigrant myself, I have first-hand experience of the importance of providing high-quality support to enable refugees and migrants to successfully lead their social and economic integration into their new environments. ACH is a leading provider of such support and I am proud to be a member of the Board.

My two kids, who are the joy of my life, and the desire to do something good that will hopefully make a positive impact on someone's life is what gets me up in the morning.

Besides my own experience being an immigrant and my close observation of the experience of refugees, I bring research expertise in the area of refugee entrepreneurship and integration and a deep knowledge of strategic marketing and business strategy.

In my spare time, I enjoy walking up a hill or being by a beach!

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Andy Burkitt

I was a founding member of ACH and got involved because I believe that it is essential we build a great future for migrants and refugees in this country in general and in Bristol and the Midlands in particular.

Toast, radio and an alarm clock plus a full to-do list are what gets me up in the morning.

As a political animal, in my spare time, I work on environmental issues.

I have chaired and been a member of many Boards over the years. I have been involved in housing since the 1960s and was Head of Community Work in Avon.

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