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CoS Sanctuary Ambassadors have diverse backgrounds and a variety of skills and interests. Are you interested in joining City of Sanctuary as a Sanctuary Ambassador? Please contact Megan.

Alice Mpofu-Coles

Alice is currently finishing her PhD on Identity and Transnational activities for young immigrants in the UK and supporting her community as an elected councillor for Reading City Council.

For over 15 years she volunteered at the Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) both as vice-chair and chair including being involved in the Gruntivig Women’s Project – Women Refugees Learning together in Europe. She is currently a trustee of the Reading City of Sanctuary and Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality (ACRE) and a specialist Ambassador for Global Female Wave of Change. She is also involved in Universities of Sanctuaries in the UK supporting them with accessing for awards and is a member of the Experts-by-Experience Operational Advisory Group.

She advocates and portrays a more positive image of refugees, BAME people by participating in numerous projects. She has done BBC television documentary and interviews on refugees’ plight, poverty, women and speaks at events and conferences. She furthers her activism by writing, actively involved with different human rights organisations, democracy, education and poverty. 

Alice was given the most inspirational refugee women Driver award in 2020. She nominated the Reading Refugee Support Group for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, and this was awarded in 2019 receiving it from the Queen’s representative, Sheriff of Berkshire. She was given an Honorary Masters of Universities by the Open University in 2013 at Poole’s ceremony for her services to refugees, communities, education, and civil services.

Samsoudini Abdou Moussa (Shams)

Shams has been advocating nationwide on behalf of people seeking sanctuary in the UK. 

He is the Co-Chair of Tees Valley of Sanctuary, Sanctuary in Politics graduate and a member of the Experts by Experience Operational Advisory Group. He is Member of the Regional Refugee Forum (North East) and a member of Doctors of The World Advisory group. Shams is also a Volunteer Assistant for the in the North East for the British Red Cross and a member of the UK Voices Networks group.

Living in Darlington, he volunteers with the local Community Centre, Firthmoor and Darlington Assistance for Refugees (DAR). Shams Is a Member of More In Common Darlington and The Unity Group of Darlington working with the Constabulary of Durham to make his community safer.

During the pandemic, Shams has used his skills to better the life of many local families by taking donation of old digital devices which he then fixes and passes on to local families, Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

Shams is a clear believer that:

“When we come together we will always prevail, no matter what the challenges we face. It easy to love and share the love as hate consumes, when loves comes natural to the heart.”

Gaida Dirar

Gaida is a member of the Operational Advisory Group, Sanctuary Ambassador and is actively involved in the Schools of Sanctuary Stream.

Prior to seeking sanctuary in UK, Gaida had a dream of becoming a journalist or doctor, she always wanted to make a difference and help others. Back in her country of origin she did embark on two university degrees and started a career on the national television, and lots of other things besides. She had a good life and lots of friends, she was happy. One day the war came and without warning destroyed everything, dispersed all her family and friends and some were sadly killed. Her and her family were forced to flee, and fortunately she was able to seek sanctuary in the UK. She is now a refugee but is keen to tell her story and advocate on behalf of others who end up in the same situation. She said “Through my journey as a refugee everything changed, I lost my hope, my smile, and somehow, I lost who I am, I was just a number. But when I was resettled to the UK, I had a second chance to rebuild a life. I proudly joined the labour market and got back to university”.

She has volunteered with the Refugee Council and is a Sanctuary in Politics graduate. Her Sanctuary in Politics course project focused on Schools of Sanctuary and involved her speaking at various schools to raise awareness of refugee issues. She says “A human with dignity, that is who I am now”.

We aim to provide case studies / profiles of Sanctuary Ambassadors and their achievements on this page.

If you want to be profiled on this page please contact the Sanctuary Ambassador Network Coordinator, Megan at [email protected].