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Meet our new Trustees

BHN is delighted to welcome two new members to our board of Trustees, Ben and Rhodri, both joining their first meeting in July. We spoke to them to find out a bit more about why they support BHN, and their hopes for the next few months.


Ben


Tell us a little bit about you. I'm a child of the 80s so I only know how to do this through the medium of Top Trumps:

  • Age: 38

  • Years married: 16

  • Months since visiting a barber: 17

  • Height: 6'5 (if you include lockdown hair)

  • Favourite sports team: Leyton Orient FC

  • Least favourite food: mayonnaise

  • Official job title: freelance marketing consultant

  • Most likely to be heard saying: 'does that make sense?'

Why did you decide to get involved with BHN? My wife and I have been long-time supporters of BHN; we are continually impressed with and inspired by the organisation’s approach to its mission. We are both fully committed to solidarity with people who are destitute asylum seekers – and, indeed, to anyone who finds themselves marginalised, overlooked or underrepresented by an oppressive, power-preserving status quo. It seems to me that BHN’s work tackles both a pressing, immediate human need and also a wider societal/worldview issue that needs urgent, drastic attention: modelling selfless compassion, generosity and welcome over-against the dominant narratives of self-interest, zero-sum/cruelly competitive grasping, toxic nationalism and protectionism. I wanted to be a Trustee of BHN to be more actively and directly involved in supporting asylum seekers, and to channel more of my time into work I believe to be of fundamental importance.


What skills, experience, and knowledge are you hoping to contribute through your role as a trustee? I like to think that I'm good at helping people to be really clear about what they want to accomplish, and then working out how best to make that happen. I hope I can help BHN to strive for and succeed in its goals – because they're much more exciting and important ones than 'maximise shareholder value' or 'increase revenue 17% year on year' or whatever! I've been a digital and strategic communications professional for over 15 years, working with organisations from local arts charities to The White House, so I hope I can especially support the BHN communications team to be really confident and effective in their work.


What are you excited about/looking forward to working on during your term as a trustee?

In life in general, I think it's really important to find ways to get outside of our echo chambers, and to have authentic connections with other people so that we avoid that temptation to think that our experience of life is the only, or principal, one. I would love for my involvement in BHN to be one more way that can happen. Also – this is quite sort of functional and businesslike – but I really do find it satisfying to see organisations hone their systems and processes, so I'm looking forward to that as well!


Rhodri


Tell us a little bit about you. I've lived and worked in Bristol for just over ten years now. I have two young daughters, aged 1 and 4, and they really are the centre of my world! I currently work for a financial institution, but will shortly be starting a new role with an international NGO, which I'm very excited about. Any spare time I get, I like to spend outdoors walking, jogging or cycling - and sometimes surfing (badly!).


Why did you decide to get involved with BHN?

The pandemic made me realise that I wanted to spend more of my time engaging in making a positive social contribution. As a result, I started searching for appealing charity trustee roles. I jumped at the chance when the opportunity arose with BHN: I have held an interest in the legal status and human rights of people seeking asylum since university, when I was first exposed to some of the issues they face through my studies. I feel strongly that those who are destitute should not be left without support, and it's really important that there exist organisations such as BHN, who stand in solidarity with those who find themselves in this very difficult position.


What skills, experience, and knowledge are you hoping to contribute through your role as a trustee?

I'm a practising solicitor and have ten years or so of legal experience in professional roles. I've also volunteered over the years with various organisations, including as an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau and working to support street vendors at The Big Issue, where I gained insight into immigration issues and the harsh realities of destitution. I'm hoping I can draw on both my professional and volunteering experience to ensure that BHN continues to serve its members to its full potential.


What are you excited about/looking forward to working on during your term as a trustee?

I am excited about helping BHN to continue providing its services, and hopefully to further improve those services in a way which makes a real difference to members.


There are challenges connected with coming out of COVID, the impact on members from recent political developments in the UK, and some very important action needed on diversity and the promotion of member voices - and I am very much looking forward to helping BHN meet these challenges.


Right now I also can't wait to visit the Welcome Centre and to meet some of the members, staff and volunteers. I've had a very warm welcome from the other members of the board, but it will be brilliant to meet and get to know the wider BHN community!




We’re really excited to have Ben and Rhodri joining us as Trustees, and are looking forward to working with them to walk with people seeking asylum in Bristol who are facing destitution. If you have a skill or a desire to help, please check our volunteering pages or get in touch via email. Opportunities are limited at the moment due to on-going COVID-19 precautions, but we would love to hear from you.



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