Friends of Refugees – Registered Charity Number: 1177693 (England & Wales)

© Friends of Refugees 2018; created by Jaymac Graphics:

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Our Team of Trustees

Julie Blunt – Secretary

Julie is the founder and Creative Director of The Art of Work, a learning and development consultancy helping leaders and organisations thrive in today’s world of work.

With a background of working with a range of organisations, she is experienced in helping others reach their full potential and working at all levels to influence and encourage change. 

In 2015, Julie formed a local social activist group, Groundswell, to share ideas, raise awareness and to tackle social issues. One of its key focus areas was supporting refugees, which resulted in the ‘Stoves for Calais’ project to design, produce and distribute small cooking stoves for people in the Calais ‘jungle’. This led to the group joining forces with the newly formed Friends of Refugees in 2015.

Tim Douglas – Chair

Tim began his career in bank management, an industry where he was also a trade union leader. He made the switch into HR and, over 30 years, developed a reputation as a successful specialist consultant, helping major organisations deliver significant organisational and cultural change.

On retiring, Tim sought opportunities to serve the community. He was a volunteer director and crew member for the organisation that runs the John Bunyan community boat, stood for election as Mayor of Bedford, raised funds for victims of the Nepal earthquake and helped found Friends of Refugees in 2015.

Since then, he has dedicated his time delivering support for refugees, abroad and in Bedford, and building the capabilities of the organisation, guiding it through to becoming a registered charity in March 2017.

Robert Baines – Treasurer

Robert is new to Friend of Refugees, recently taking on the role of Treasurer to help as the charity grows. He is currently training with

ACCA as a chartered certified accountant.

Robert has completed a Masters degrees in Psychology from the University of Essex (2012) and in Occupational Psychology from the University of Hertfordshire (2014).

He is licensed by the British Psychological Society to use Ability and Personality Assessment Tools, and has designed bespoke psychometric tools for client organisations to match entrepreneurs with potential mentors.

In 2014 he designed and ran a seminar for social workers and church members on how to help troubled children.

Nikki Firefly

Nikki supports Friends of Refugees by sourcing and applying for grants. She is Operations Director for a Biotechnology company and project manages large grants within the organisation.

Nikki has always had a passion for helping others and was a Youth Worker for a number of years, supporting young people in dance projects in the South West. She has been an active volunteer for numerous charities including; supporting a team to provide activities for children with autism, participating in fundraising to provide cinemas for children in hospital and their carers, supporting homeless children and the elderly in Peru, and providing educational activities at a city farm.

Nikki is also a STEM ambassador and works to support young people in their goals to work in scientific careers.

JoAnne Lambert

JoAnne has always been passionate about improving the life chances of others, which initially led to her becoming a leader in the Girl Guide movement for over 30 years.

She has worked as a Learning Mentor in a number of local secondary schools with children who were at risk of exclusion from school. Eventually training as a secondary teacher specialising in History and Special Educational Needs, she taught children with moderate learning difficulties for a number of years.

Having taken medical retirement, she joined FOR in 2017. JoAnne is involved in the fundraising committee, and jointly runs a weekly club for young refugees where they can get help with homework and learn skills which are helpful to their integration. 

Alex Levene

Alex is a native Bedfordian who is very happy he gets to share his home town with so many wonderful people who come from all over the world to enhance and enrich the local area.

His background is in Performing Arts, Arts Management and Cultural Strategy, and he has spent the past decade at The Place in Bedford.

He works at an international level through Edgeryders, a network/company.

Alex was heavily involved in Crew for Calais, a grassroots movement which mobilised arts organisations and professionals to provide volunteer support on the ground to 'the Jungle' camp in Calais, spending three months living and working there before the final clearances. He maintains a link to HelpRefugees.

He is also a volunteer for Q:Youth Bedford: a youth group for LGBTQ+ local young people.

Lissy Malt

Felicity began her career in teaching, working as an English, French and Drama teacher at Henlow Academy for 11 years.

In 2015 she moved on to pursue a career in the arts, teaching with a local theatre school and promoting The Place Theatre and performing in many plays with the Swan Theatre Company.

She and Julie Blunt collaborated to make rocket stoves to send to Calais, soon meeting other like-minded people such as Tim Douglas, to form Friends of Refugees.

In 2017 she was part of the fundraising group,  and has been an active member all the way through. After raising funds by planning an auction of promises with the fundraising team in 2018, she was asked to join as a trustee and head of fundraising.

Rosie Newbigging

Rosie, who has lived in Bedford for many years, is a qualified Social Worker, educated at Southampton and Oxford universities.

She has spent her career working for health and social care campaigns and with watchdogs campaigning to defend, extend and improve health and social care locally.

As Executive Director for Nations, Regions and Services at Asthma UK for seven years, Rosie has considerable experience of working for a UK-wide charity. She currently works for Bedford Borough Children's Services as a Quality Assurance Officer.

She has been a Trustee of Friends of Refugees since 2018, and has led on safeguarding and developing befriending support for young asylum seekers and refugees.