STAR is led by a team of staff and a board of trustees. The national staff team provides training and support to our student groups at colleges and universities across the UK. We work together at a number of levels to bring about lasting change for refugees.
I joined STAR in autumn 2009 as the Volunteering Project Coordinator, took on the role of Deputy Director in 2012, and have been the Chief Executive since 2019. I’ve been working in the refugee sector since 2006 and in the charity sector since 2004. Before working at STAR, I led a research project into mental health service provision for asylum seekers and refugees in England and Wales at Mind. Before that, I was the Volunteering Coordinator at the North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, a project originally established by the Glasgow STAR group. I am CELTA qualified and teach English to refugees and migrants as a volunteer.
I joined STAR in the summer of 2020. I coordinate STAR’s national campaigns, with a particular focus on the Equal Access campaign to improve access to university for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in the UK. I have an MSc in International Development and Management, as part of which I researched higher education for refugees in Jordan. I’ve previously taught history and politics to secondary school students in the UK and France, and have volunteered with a range of organisations supporting people seeking asylum.
Student network manager
I joined STAR in October 2022. As the Student Network Manager, I oversee the STAR student network and focus on supporting students to run successful volunteering projects with refugees in their communities. Before joining STAR, I worked as the Volunteer Officer at Breaking Barriers, a charity that supports refugees into employment. I have an MA in Publishing from City University where I also set up and ran a STAR group as a student, and have volunteered with various organisations that support people seeking asylum.
Student Network Organiser
BA in History from the University of Bristol, during which I was on the committee for Bristol STAR.
Access to university project Coordinator
I joined STAR in January 2023. I coordinate the Displaced Student Opportunities UK portal at STAR, working to make information about accessing higher education for people who are displaced in the UK as accessible as possible. I have an MA in Inclusive Education, SEN, and Disability and am currently pursuing an MA in International Child Rights and Development at King’s College London. I have worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross and volunteered with various organisations that support gender equality in Afghanistan.
Dave has worked in advice services in the UK for 20 years. Beginning as a volunteer in street homeless services, he developed extensive grounding in working with vulnerable people with complex needs. He began managing homeless services in 1995, developing first single services, then networks of residential and day-care provision. Moving to the refugee sector in 1999, Dave spent 15 years as a senior manager for Refugee Action, first as Operations Director and then, from 2010-15, as CEO. Dave joined STAR’s board in 2014 and became Chair in 2016. Dave is also a trustee of the Asylum Support Appeals Project.
James’ background is as a fundraiser, and he has worked and volunteered for a range of charities, including Oxfam, Third World First, and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. Currently, he is also treasurer at National Ugly Mugs, who work to end violence against sex workers, and is on the working group for Music Declares Emergency, which supports artists in speaking out on climate change. As Treasurer, his role is to help manage STAR’s accounts, work with the STAR team on day-to-day finances and report back to STAR groups at the annual conference.
Raj Burman is a seasoned entrepreneurial leader with 30+ years of experience in scaling ventures across diverse sectors. As a Fellow at the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs, Raj successfully served as CEO of Techfugees Foundation, a global non-profit using responsible technology to promote inclusion for displaced individuals. With a strong track record in startup investments, he also spearheaded a European Commission program for scaling businesses, empowering entrepreneurs for maximum impact. Raj’s role as a UN Global Poverty Project Ambassador underscores his commitment to international humanitarian efforts aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in maternal and child health, education, and marginalised community inclusion.
Matthew as worked with and for charities since 1993, when he joined the Refugee Council. He is currently the Business Development Director at HACT, working with housing associations across the UK to enhance the services they provide to residents and local communities. Prior to joining HACT he ran his own company, working with refugee and human rights charities to deliver strategic communications campaigns. He has written and edited numerous research reports, articles and blogs, as well as co-authoring a book on Chinese communism.
Christine Bacon is Artistic Director of Ice&Fire, a theatre company with a human rights focus. She founded Ice&Fire’s national Actors for Human Rights network in 2006, a project that has seen countless collaborations with STAR group across the UK and continues to tour on a rolling basis. She has written and produced over a dozen scripts for ice&fire and has been commissioned by a several third sector organisations because of her expertise with collecting and presenting first-hand testimony on typically thorny issues. She holds a Msc. in Forced Migration from the Refugee Studies Centre (Oxford University) and much of her work at ice&fire has focused on refugee and migrant rights. She regularly volunteers with The Unity Project and Hackney Migrant Centre.
Maryam graduated from the University of York in 2019, where she was a recipient of the Equal Access scholarship. She was the Volunteering Coordinator of York STAR and campaigned for Equal Access. After graduating, she became a STAR Equal Access Activist and uses her expertise to guide the campaign. She represented STAR at the Global Refugee Forum in 2019, co-organised STAR’s Refugee Scholars Conference in 2020, and helped to establish the Equal Access Network for students and applicants from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds. She now works at City of Sanctuary as Universities of Sanctuary Coordinator.
Haya Al- Sheikh
Haya is on the committee for Cardiff STAR and was voted onto our board of trustees at the 2021 AGM. She studies Neuroscience at Cardiff University. Her favorite part about being a student trustee is getting the opportunity to work with people from many different backgrounds who are vocal about a cause that she is passionate about and gaining insight on how a charity is run. This past summer she spent three weeks volunteering at a slum clinic in Jaipur, India. In Cardiff, she is a part of the university of sanctuary working group and was involved in the first open day for refugees at Cardiff university. She is also currently working on starting up another volunteering project in Cardiff in collaboration with Care4Calais.
Salem is the president of Leicester STAR. He was elected onto the board of trustees in 2021.
Shreeja Skrikanth is the President of Bath STAR, and was elected onto the board of trustees at the 2023 AGM She is a student of Psychology at the University of Bath. Shreeja loves to meet new people and hear their life stories. STAR has helped her grow as an individual and meet some of the most wonderful people. As a part of Bath STAR, Shreeja has been instrumental in implementing various projects including working with Somerset Council to support refugees, mentoring for UCAS, and university open days for refugees.
Jess Schofield Wood
Jess is a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer for Frontline AIDS and was previously a Partnerships Officer at Hope for Justice. She was a member of KCL STAR while at university.