Speakers & Workshops

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9.45-10am: Welcome to Participants by our Event Chair

Name: Wendy Smith

Affiliation: IARS (Trustee)

Wendy is a Trustee at IARS. She has a distinguished professional career, spanning Public Relations, Journalism, and Media. She has appeared on television and radio, and written for publications such as the GuardianFT, The Times, Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday, and Director Magazine.


10-10.15am: Move-On Programme Overview and Objectives

Name: Dr. Simon Aulton

Affiliation: IARS (Deputy Director)

In his role as Deputy Director at IARS, Simon manages its work across Justice, Equalities and Youth, as well as overseeing finance for the charity, and supporting the team to deliver innovative user-led research on a range of topics and areas. As an experienced adult-trainer with over 25 years’ experience and a Diploma in Management, Simon has competencies in facilitating, presenting, directing and assessing adult training as well as NVQ qualifications in assessing and verifying NVQ studies.


10.15-10.45: Keynote Speakers

Name: Amanuel Woldesus

Affiliation: Migrants Resource Centre

Migrants Resource Centre (MRC) is a migrant-led organisation, one where most of the staff are themselves migrants or children of migrants. MRC has worked for over 30 years to help migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers overcome the barriers that prevent them from fully participating in British society. In this time, they have helped tens of thousands of people secure protection in the UK, regularise their immigration status, learn English, and find work.

Amanuel joined MRC in 2017 from Regenerate-RISE, a charity that supports isolated elderly people, where he was Chief Executive. Before that, he has been a senior manager at The Upper Room, at Media Trust, Freedom from Torture, and the Refugee Council. As someone with a refugee background himself as well as over 20 years’ experience working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, Amanuel has an excellent knowledge of the hopes and needs of migrants and refugee communities and a unique understanding of how integration can work for everyone in Britain.


Name: Jill Rutter

Affiliation: British Future

Presentation Title: Improving the Labour Market Integration of Migrants and Refugees

Jill is presently Director of Strategy and Relationships at British Future, a think-tank that focuses on migration, integration, identity, social and economic opportunity. She worked at the Refugee Council where she helped set up Refugee Week, now a regular summer fixture. She has also worked at the Institute for Public Policy Research, where she helped set up the Migration Museum Project. This organisation plans to create the UK’s first dedicated migration museum and to tell the long story of movement into and out of the UK in a fresh and engaging way.

Most of her research and writing has focused on migration, and she is the author of over 100 books, articles and reports on this subject. Her latest book Moving Up and Getting On (Policy Press, 2015) critiques policy on integration and social cohesion in the UK.


Name: Don Flynn

Affiliation: Migrants’ Rights Network

Don Flynn has worked in the field of migration policy since the mid-1970s, when he started work as a caseworker at a London law centre.  He is the founding director of Migrants’ Rights Network and led its work up until December 2016.  He continues his involvement in its work as an MRN associate. In this capacity he has a keen interest in work which aims to improve the quality of networking between migrant and refugee community organisations and other civil society organisations working to support the rights of all migrants. 

He is also involved in networking with migrants’ rights organisations across Europe. He is a recent past president of PICUM – the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants.

He is a member of the steering group of the UK Race & Europe Network (UKREN). UKREN brings together groups concerned with racial equality in the UK with an interest in monitoring and influencing development in the rest of Europe. 

He regularly writes on themes relating to the politics of immigration and blogs on the MRN website, (www.migrantsrights.org.uk). He tweets as @donflynnmrn. 


10.45-11am: Move-On Project

Name: Rosa Heimer

Affiliation: IARS (Equalities Projects Coordinator)

Rosa Heimer is the Equalities Projects Coordinator at IARS. In this position Rosa coordinates various UK and EU wide projects in the intersecting areas of gender, migration and LGBTI refugees. She is the UK coordinator of the Move On Project.  

Rosa is an intersectional feminist passionate about fighting for social justice, migrants’ rights and gender equality. Before joining the IARS, Rosa gained considerable professional experience in equality research and policy at the EU level. Currently, she also works part-time as a Knowledge Officer at the Latin American Women’s Aid, an organisation providing services to support and empower Latin American and BME women, especially those experiencing or at risk of domestic violence.


11-11.10am: Q&A (Chaired by Wendy Smith)


11.10am-12pm: IARS’ Gender and Justice Empowerment Project.

Migrant & Refugee Journeys

Gender and Justice Empowerment Project is an innovative, 3-year Comic Relief funded programme that aim at empowering, giving collective voice and protecting vulnerable refugee and asylum-seeking women affected by crime.

As part of this project, a group of refugee and asylum seeking women meet monthly to support each other, train themselves and deliver activities to their peers. Some of the women from this group will share their views, their experience and journeys of integration in the UK labour market and educational system.

12-12.10pm: Q&A - Chaired by Abdulwahab Tahhan

Name: Abdulwahab Tahhan,

Affiliation:  Researcher at Airwars

Abdulwahab Tahhan is a Syrian refugee raised in Aleppo. He previously worked on The Suffering Grasses – a documentary about Syrian refugees which went on to win eight awards. Now based in the UK, with the assistance of the Refugee Journalism Project Abdulwahab first joined Airwars in summer 2016 as a volunteer. He is a Syria researcher now and his work focuses in particular on Russia’s actions. 


1-2pm: Roundtable of Interactive Workshops

Group A

Name: Theodora Cadbury and Anna Aitken  

Affiliation: Xenia

Presentation Title: Taking a step back to take a step forward - Integration and language learning in women-only spaces

Xenia brings migrant, refugee, asylum-seeking & British women together for workshops that encourage English language practice & fun, meaningful two-way social integration. At, Xenia we are providing a much-needed safe space for women of all backgrounds to support and befriend each other.

Theo Cadbury is a feminist organiser and bringer together of people. She founded Xenia in 2016 to tackle the isolation, xenophobia and sexism experienced by many migrant women.

Accessing the labour market is a twin-peaked challenge for many migrant women; the first, an uphill climb towards self-confidence, language fluency and understanding of British systems; the second, an ongoing journey of gaining the skills needed for higher paid work while battling sexism and xenophobia hand in hand. 

This workshop will share best practice for language learning, confidence building and integration with English-speaking women in women’s only spaces, using the example of a volunteer-run model in Hackney. We will take a step back to assess the challenges faced by many migrant women, delve into the value of English-speaking participation in integration projects, and share the Xenia toolkit of what is needed to replicate this simple model.

Group B

Name: Dr. Panagiotis Pentaris

Affiliation: University of Greenwich

Presentation Title: Exploring the not unlawful discrimination faced by migrants who wish to enter employment

The workshop will explore the concept of microaggression and how that relates to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who seek employment. More specifically, the workshop will be an interactive platform for participants to engage in a dialogue about what constitutes microinvalidations, microinsults and microassaults. From there, the participants will be asked to place such concepts in the experiences of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and will be invited to make recommendations toward improving the circumstances under which people from foreign backgrounds may be approached in the process of entering employment.

Dr Panagiotis Pentaris is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Social Work and Counselling at the University of Greenwich. He is also a Post-doc Research Fellow for the Faiths & Civil Society Unit at Goldsmiths University of London. Further, he acts in the role of a trustee member for IARS, Country Director and representative for the International Peace Centre in Africa, Death Café practitioner for the death movement, and is a member of several academic boards and ethics committees. Panagiotis’ work also focuses on migration and asylum seekers, and people’s experiences of loss and grief when at a distance, inclusive of loss of identity, religion, language or sense of belonging.


Group C

Name: Aloysius Ssali

Affiliation: Say It Loud

Presentation Title: Working with LGBT refugees, sharing experiences

Say It Loud Club was founded in 1994 by Aloysius, a Ugandan activist who has worked tirelessly to improve the rights of LGBT persons around the world. It is an organisation that has led campaigns against homophobia in Africa, with a particular focus on Uganda. Since 2010, it has been helping a number of LGBT persons in London, offering support groups, workshops, and one-to-one casework.

In this workshop, Aloysius will draw on his extensive professional experience to give a clearer picture of the situation confronting LGBT persons around the world. He will begin by considering some of the particular difficulties LGBT persons often experience as refugees and asylum-seekers. Legally sanctioned gender-based discrimination is still pervasive: homosexuality is criminalised in 42 of the Commonwealth nations for instance. Information regarding rights and legal redress is difficult to access. Personal testimonies reveal the stress and trauma of “proving” one’s LGBT identity, and the systemic discrimination and marginalisation experienced in proceeding through the legal system to attain asylum. In line with the central theme of the event, he will then move on to consider the obstacles to employment that LGBT refugees confront. 


Group D

Names: Ruth Appleton and Sharif Muhammed

Affiliation: Santé Project

Workshop Title: Current Challenges in Policy & Service Provision of Mental Health for Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in the UK.

Ruth and Sharif will co-present this workshop. Ruth presents her extensive experience and expertise in the passage below. Sharif has personal experience of confronting the institutional barriers that exist for asylum-seekers in the UK. He is a homeless asylum-seeker from Afghanistan. He lost his family of origin and suffered war trauma.  He is a survivor.  He entered the UK at age 14 and has been trying ever since (6 years) to gain asylum.

My family were Jewish refugees who fled the pogroms in Poland in 1911.  I am a qualified social worker and development worker with an MA in Sociology & Social Policy.  I was a Refugee Mental Health Development worker for Mind in Harrow and founded the Santé Project in 2005 in Camden.  We have 25 Befrienders supervised by myself and a Mental Health professional who worked for Freedom from Torture. We direct migrants to appropriate solicitors and specialist counselling.  Some gain work in the caring professions with refugees.  This is positive for the UK and for refugees. Those who have experienced the challenges are best placed to provide the service.  However, they must recover and integrate before they can seek work.  Our volunteers make a regular weekly commitment to one service user each, to whom they give emotional and practical support. Our workshop will show how refugees work with us for a co-produced outcome’ - Ruth

2-2.45pm: Final Roundtable: Conclusions - Chaired by Abdulwahab Tahhan

2.45-3pm: Next Steps & Closing remarks - Dr. Simon Aulton