Our Senior Staff and Board Members
Fuad came to the UK as a refugee from Somalia with no English, and went on to obtain a first class degree in Engineering from Bath University followed by an MSc in Management from Lancaster Business School.
Setting up ACH in 2008 in order to support the resettlement of refugees like himself, he has built the organisation into one of the leading providers of integration support for excluded and marginalised people. It now spans across 3 cities, employs 65 people and works with 2500 individuals a year.
He has since graduated from executive Programmes at the Cranfield School of Management, Aston Business School, SAID business School of Oxford University, was a 2016 Clore Social Fellow for Refugee and Migrant communities, and is currently a 2018 Churchill Fellow. Together with his colleagues at ACH, Fuad has argued for a new approach to refugee assistance based on development rather than just humanitarianism.
Fuad has contributed to events in Brussels, Stockholm, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton and Wolverhampton over the past two years, speaking on the topic of refugee integration.
Working with refugee communities since 2004, Richard has brought his lived experience into the design of innovative programs which challenge the status quo, resulting in ACH becoming recognised as a thought leader in refugee integration.
Richard leads ACH’s ambitious research and consultancy plans, which links world-renowned academics with our #rethinkingrefugee ethos.
He presents regularly on the topics of refugee self-integration and policy-controlled integration, providing inspirational and insightful discourse around how barriers are created by policy and the enhancement of agency necessary to overcome them.
As the Chief Innovation Officer for both ACH and HIMILO, Richard’s focus is on delivering strategic priorities as identified within the businesses plans and objectives. His aims are to increase sustainability through; diversification of income, driving the capability to increase our impact at all levels and increase national and international political/ sector engagement.
Richard is currently undertaking an Executive MBA at Aston Business School focused on International Business, specialising in Advanced Strategy.
ACH Board members
John is a Fellow of the Institute of Consulting, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute a Companion of the International Management Centres Association and a Fellow of the Institute of Independent Business.
He has over 25 years corporate experience at senior management level in the UK and Europe and for the last fifteen years has been advising and helping SME’s in developing, growing and improving their businesses, through his own consultancy companies abio limited and Barwel Consulting Services Limited.
He has worked with Aston University, Goldman Sachs 10k Small Business programme and he is a Growth Accelerator Coach. He is also a firm believer in continuous improvement, be it on a personal or business level.
Councillor Paulette Hamilton has been a Labour Councillor in Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, since June 2004; and took up the position of Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care in May 2015. Her interest in politics developed following her active involvement in a number of health projects at a local, regional and national level. She has also held the role of the City’s Mental Health Champion.
Councillor Paulette Hamilton is passionate about raising awareness of Mental Health. Outside the Council, she held a number of nursing roles before going on to work at the Royal College of Nursing as a Professional Development Advisor.
As Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care; she is determined that she will use this role to be an ambassador for change; to make a difference and improve the outcomes for some of the City’s most vulnerable citizens and their families and carers. She is actively involved in working with our citizens, and health partners to create a more joined-up health and social care service that improves outcome for our citizens with a focus on prevention, independence and enablement.
Saida Bello works part-time as a Housing Solicitor in Bristol City Council’s Legal Department and part-time as a Diversity and Inclusion Adviser. She has over 10 years post qualification experience as a Housing Solicitor in three local authorities, namely Birmingham, Bristol and the London Borough of Camden.
Saida was appointed as a member of the Valuation Tribunal England (VTE) in July 2017 and is required to sit twice a month as a judicial member of the VTE. In this role, she deals with business rates appeals, council tax appeals and other matters. Saida’s appointment as a member of the VTE entailed going through the Judicial Appointments Commission’s (JAC) rigorous recruitment process.
Saida has undertaken several voluntary roles. She has served as a committee member of the Social Housing Law Association in London and in the Midlands for about five years. She has served as a school governor in London and Bristol for five years. She sat as a Youth Offending Team (YOT) panel member for two years at the London Borough of Camden. Saida also served as an Independent board member of the Central London County Court governance body for almost two years.
Saida currently sits on the governing board of the Golden Key Partnership in Bristol and is a director of the Bristol Law Society Council.
Antoinette is a Barrister called to the Bar in 1994 and sits as a member of the Valuation Tribunal for England. During her working life, she has always worked within the Court system, appearing in the Civil and Criminal Courts to the Tribunal system. Antoinette has always worked in an environment where quality is essential, and this is a value which she holds dearly. As a former Manager, Antoinette has knowledge of case management procedures. She has also trained staff for LEXCEL, International Quality Assurance Standard ISO9001 and Investors in people.
Antoinette is also a local government specialist with an emphasis on Housing Law. She specialises in assisting Council and Housing Association Tenants in housing disrepair issues. She has advised and represented on all aspects of anti-social behaviour law.
Her roles have involved obtaining and enforcing injunctions preventing nuisance and annoyance and acquiring possession of properties. Her work includes anti-social behaviour matters, possession proceedings, warrant suspensions, housing fraud, lodgers in occupation, homelessness and unlawful evictions issues. For several years she has been the Senior Lawyer for a large Local Authority in the Housing Litigation Department.
Antoinette is an accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator; she also specialises in Special Educational Needs Mediations.
She offers representation at Immigration Tribunal hearings including asylum, human rights, visa applications and applications for leave to remain
Abdi has been the Company Secretary for both ACH and Himilo since 2015. He has more than 20 years of valuable experience in leadership and management, governance, project development, teaching and training, and community development.
Projects he has involved have addressed refugee integration and employment, media and community voice, training and education, and health inequalities. He is a former member of the interim commission for race equality for Bristol. Currently, he is also a director at The Bristol Cable and Black South West Network, and a trustee at Wellspring Settlement (a merger of Wellspring Healthy Living Centre and Barton Hill Settlement).
Ruth Pickersgill is a Bristol City Councillor, representing the inner-city ward of Easton, chairing the Public Safety Committee and leading on a number of refugee-related initiatives. She has had a long involvement in the refugee sector as a trustee on two other Boards, and through her work in education and equalities, focussing on raising the achievement of BAME young people and English as an Additional Language. Prior to retirement, Ruth held a number of senior leadership roles in education-most recently as Assistant Principal in St Brendan’s College and previously Student Services Manager in Leicester College and Equalities Manager for the Bristol Education Dept.
After gaining a History Degree at University College London and a PGCE, Ruth’s career began as a teacher in London. She then worked in community development and became CEO of two disabled people’s organisations in London and Bristol. She has been a member of many Boards and has previously chaired Bristol Refugee Rights and Leicester Centre for inclusive Living. She is also Chair of Governors at a local secondary school and is actively involved in a range of education and safeguarding related committees. From being the first Equal Opportunities Officer for Avon Council in 1988, all her professional roles have focussed on equality, diversity and inclusion, and she was awarded an MBE for this area of work in FE in 2010.
Noelle joined the ACH Board of Directors in October 2019. In her day job, she is Head of Data Assurance at Uniac, a company that performs internal audits for universities across the country. This follows 10 years in Higher Education at the University of Bristol, UWE, and the University of Wolverhampton, in a variety of roles covering business intelligence, planning, student information, and statutory regulations, but also student-facing advice and support. She has led services of up to 100 people, cross-campus and cross-city, and can wrangle Excel like nobody’s business.
On evenings and weekends, Noelle is active in Bristol’s community and voluntary sector where, over the years, she’s been involved in service delivery, community development, and campaigning organisations, both as a leader and a member-at-large. Currently, Noelle is Chair of University of Bristol Students’ Unions, and a board member of the new organisation formed from the merger of Up Our Street, Felix Road Adventure Playground, and Easton Community Centre.
Shariat is a business consultant with extensive experience across private, public and the third sector. His first 10 years’ experience was focused on IT integration in multinational companies, followed by another long spell in publicly funded business support at Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.
Over the last 5 years, Shariat has led the establishment of social value policies, procedures and practices at Birmingham City Council, including the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility. This is a best practice example of implementing Social Value in a Local Authority. He has also contributed to the development of the West Midlands Combined Authority policy.
Shariat’s experience includes a thorough study of various social value measurement methodologies as well as developing an automation system.
Shariat has recently established Social Value Plus Community Interest Company, a not for profit company dedicated to helping businesses deliver quality social value that addresses the needs of their public sector clients.
Himilo Board Members
Balvir Dhillon is a Fellow of the International Entrepreneurial Educators, the Founder of Golden Ethics, a solution-based company focusing on entrepreneurship, employability, business development, leadership and education. She is Chair and non-Executive of Himilo part of Ashley Community Housing (ACH) focusing on asylum and refugee settlement while advocating and providing leadership for the Community Impact Group. Balvir works tirelessly in delivering international humanitarian rights and ensuring the empowerment of diverse communities for justice, freedom of speech and instigating positive actions at home and overseas. Her leadership, management and teaching career led to senior positions within the different sectors as Ambassador, Governor, Chair and Vice Principal within Further Education.
An experienced NLP executive coach, Balvir focuses on coaching and mentoring, creating innovative cultures, and shifting fixed mindsets to nurturing growth mindsets through a practice of organisational development at corporate, public and third sector levels. An active member of Operational Black Vote (OBV), and an Ambassador for Global Poverty Project, she practices genuine interest in closing the gap on child poverty, human rights of women and disadvantaged groups both local, national and international.
Tom has a varied background with a career in sport, education, diversity and property. Tom is CEO of Active Gloucestershire and holds a position with Sport England as part of their extended workforce.
Over a twenty-year career, Tom has focused his time on delivering projects that support the creation of cohesive communities. This has included new schools, business and invocation premises and undertaking systems leadership to increase physical activity levels and reduce health inequality. Tom has experience in using social investment to deliver social outcomes and has specialist skills in business development.
Andy has been involved with housing and housing policy since the mid-1960s. He has especially been involved in the areas of youth homelessness and research into how housing impinges on the ability of people to work. Andy has been involved in a number of schemes to help train the homeless, including two national pilot schemes. As well as being a former chair of ACH, he is also involved in developing its employment and training initiatives.
Ted is a place-based practitioner in social and civic enterprise. He has played a leading role in developing Bristol and Bath Regional Capital, City Academy Bristol, Easton Community Nursery, Bristol Credit Union, the Malcolm X Centre, the Community Development Finance Association, Immigration and Nationality Advice Services, VOSCUR, Bristol Community Transport, Creating Excellence and various inner-city community development, place-making and education initiatives.
In all these, his aim has been to maximise productive local engagement in making our city a better place to live and work. He has made substantial professional contributions to national and EU policy and best practice on business support and investment, financial inclusion, inward investment and relocations, financial and economic inclusion, procurement, social value, and incubation and asset transfer.
Ted is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (recently Regional Chair) and the Schumacher Institute.
David is a director of our training subsidiary, Himilo. He also works with ACH / Himilo in relation to labour market and economic development opportunities for refugees and migrants, including building better links to employers, business and development organisations, as well as local authorities and other stakeholders.
David has worked in local and regional economic development consultancy in the UK and internationally for more than 25 years. He has focused on capacity development, institution building and stakeholder development as well as programme and project design and qualitative evaluation. He has worked extensively on aspects of social innovation and their application for local and regional development. Previously he was a Birmingham City Councillor for ten years, a visiting research fellow with the School for Social Policy at Anglia University, and an advisor on social innovation to the European Association of Development Agencies.
Laila Kasem is a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Marketing at Worcester Business School, University of Worcester with versatile academic expertise spanning strategy, international business, marketing and entrepreneurship. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with over 10-year teaching and research experience at the University of Strathclyde, the University of Bedfordshire and the University of Worcester.
Given her living and working experience in both Syria and the UK as well as her academic interest in cross-cultural interactions, Laila provides a unique position and wealth of cultural experience to appreciate the transition many immigrants, including refugees, have to make to resettle into the UK.
Laila is passionate about supporting immigrants to achieve successful integration into their new societies. She has been conducting research about the experiences of refugees in the UK and she volunteers with Malvern Welcomes, an organisation that facilitated the resettlement of a number of refugee families into Malvern. She is also a skillanthropist supporting Bpeace (the Business Council for Peace) in its exploration of how to support refugees.
As an associate board member at Himilo, Laila aims to contribute to Himilo’s endeavours for supporting refugees in their attempts to become active economic agents who positively contribute to the UK.