Our team of Trustees
Dr Zara Layne
Zara was awarded her PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2007 and subsequently worked as a social policy researcher for City University and a number of national charities.
After a career break to raise a family, Zara set up and now manages the co-working space, The Foundry Bedford.
Zara is a founding member of the Black Tom Big Lunch group which runs an annual street party. She has been involved as a volunteer with FOR since 2017 and will be co-ordinating a team of volunteers as our lead for fundraising.
Tim Douglas – Chair
Tim looked for opportunities to serve the community on retiring, volunteering for the John Bunyan community boat, standing for election as Bedford Mayor, raising funds for the Nepal earthquake, and helped found Friends of Refugees in 2015.
He has since dedicated his time to 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.
Dr Helen Connolly
Helen is a senior lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire and an acknowledged expert in the forced migration of children and their subsequent resettlement.
She was recently asked to speak in Parliament about her research on Family Reunion for Amnesty International, Save the Children and the Red Cross.
Helen, who spoke at our very first fundraising dinner in 2016, will help shape our services for young refugees and oversee our safeguarding procedures.
Tom Boulton – Treasurer
Tom joins the board as Treasurer and maths tutor, having volunteered with us since 2016.
He is part of the community at All Nations Church in Bedford and works as an ice cream research scientist (what a great job!).
In his free time, Tom enjoys amateur dramatics, playing guitar and watching Doctor Who. Tom says: "My Christian faith led me to join Friends of Refugees; I'm passionate about affirming the dignity of all people and putting love into action to serve refugees as Jesus would have done."
Tanya has taught a range of subjects including RE, Philosophy & Ethics, History and Sociology, has an MA in Transnational Organised Crime, and was Head of a Sociology Department for many years.
Mother to two teenage children, she was born in Hertfordshire but has also lived in London, Dubai and Thailand.
Tanya brings a wide experience of volunteering to her role as FOR trustee – from a soup kitchen in Ladbroke Grove to tutoring for Centrepoint.
Johanna first started working with refugees some 25 years ago, running a club for those refugee children from former Yugoslavia who had been resettled in Finland.
She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science (Social Work and Development Studies) from University of Helsinki, and a Masters Degree in Computing and IT from the University of Bedfordshire.
Johanna has been involved in FOR's work since 2015, and will lead our aid operations.
Jenni is a semi-retired publications manager who still runs a small graphic design and editing business specialising in work for local charities.
A long-standing left-wing political activist, she has volunteered with a wide variety of charity organisations over the years – from Bedcoda, the former Co-operative Development Agency, through a money advice charity and, most recently, serving as a trustee of local charity Yarl's Wood Befrienders.
Jenni will help with our Comms strategy.