Skip to main content

Portsmouth City of Sanctuary (PCoS)

PCoS is a grassroots humanitarian charity (CIO), primarily assisting Portsmouth’s migrant community with direct action. The PCoS volunteer team aims to compassionately uphold the dignity and independence of all individuals it supports, regardless of status, and strives to do so with respect and welcoming warmth for everyone.


Malcolm Little. Chair of Trustees. Born and works in Portsmouth, with a diverse military, commercial and NGO background. Also ran British Red Cross refugee services in Hants & Surrey for many years. Having worked with other cities of sanctuary, he founded PCoS as an independent charity with like-minded advocates for migrant dignity, safety and choice. He loves life and dogs!

David Handley. Trustee. Distinguished background in the UK Foreign Service, industry and commerce, and a lifelong interest in international relations and global cultures. Volunteer caseworker for 5 years with BRC Refugee Services until 2020. A more than passable Arabic and Spanish speaker!

Golam Chowdhury. Trustee. Military and industry background. Extended experience as a staff member and volunteer to different Red Cross services, including refugee services and emergency response. Born in Bangladesh and highly motivated to empower and defend refugees and asylum seekers, supporting their human rights.

Denise Callender. Trustee and founder member of PCoS. BA (Hons) Fine Art, MA Curating Contemporary Design. Private and public sector, and arts charity trustee experience. Promotions Manager in the University of Portsmouth’s Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries. Skilled project manager, creative producer, administrator and mentor. Passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion. Member of the University of Sanctuary working group which recently announced its first Sanctuary Scholarship for asylum seekers.

Patience Mutunami. PCoS Trustee with 7+ years’ experience working on gender-related issues in a development context, Patience is a UoP post-graduate researcher (and employee) with a particular interest in tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Harmful Cultural Practices (including FGM), and poor women’s health (specifically HIV).

Project leaders

Shamila Dhana. Founder member of PCoS, Head of Operations and Safeguarding. Considerable lived experience as a migrant, refugee casework volunteer, Vice President of the Red Cross in Hampshire, and latterly as a Citizens Advice Portsmouth trustee. She is recognised and respected as an inspirational champion and passionate supporter of women at risk locally, especially victims of abuse and gender violence.

Lucy Bertram.  Asylum and Refugee Community Manager. Experience working in frontline Healthcare. BA (Hons) in Illustration and a background of performing and arts project management. Fluent in English and German.

Roni Edwards. Energise Me project lead for PCoS, encouraging refugees to take up sporting and dance activities. Creative Practitioner with 16 years’ experience in curriculum-led schools dance, creative exchange projects for young people in disadvantaged communities in Africa, and dance-theatre production. 2023 Award-winning CEO of Pamodzi Creatives CIC in Portsmouth.

Mary Helm. Joint lead for Welcome Box Project. Mainly an education background, with considerable Early Years and ESOL experience. Volunteering has included support for Women’s Aid Refuge, a Rape Crisis Line, and as a British Red Cross Refugee Services caseworker for some 11 years in Portsmouth.

Carol Lupton. Joint lead for the PCoS Welcome Project. Retired academic and civil servant. One of the founders of the original Portsmouth Women’s Aid Refuge, and latterly as a British Red Cross Refugee Services volunteer.

Jane Turner. Project Lead for English at PCoS who has taught Religious Studies and English at various Portsmouth schools, including St Johns College (and periods in their Lasallian schools in India, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia) at both GCSE and A-Level. BA English Literature, MA Religious Studies, TEFL Qualified and passionate about welcoming migrants and helping them with the English skills they need to flourish in the UK.

Connie Kirabo. From Uganda originally, Connie is a third-year UoP student pursuing a BA (Hons) in Childhood and Youth Studies. Working in a Nursery as an early year practitioner, and supporting clients as an established PCoS casework volunteer, she is now project leading our mental health work.

John Ashlin. Action Asylum Project Lead for Portsmouth, working in partnership with Portsmouth City of Sanctuary. We provide a platform to connect asylum seekers with local people; volunteering together to improve neighbourhoods and the environment. More broadly, John seeks to collaborate in innovative ways to nurture ecology and community through empathy, creativity and artistic expression.

Leah Little.  Volunteer Coordinator.  Leah has worked and volunteered in Portsmouth and Gosport for 30 years.  She has many years of experience as a Personal Assistant in the legal sector.  In recent years, Leah has worked in a primary school as a Library Manager and Clerk to the Governing Body.  Leah’s roles have also included Volunteer Coordinator and Reception Supervisor at a local Council for Voluntary Service. Leah is coordinating over 30 volunteers, most with lived experience, at Portsmouth City of Sanctuary.


Dr. Bonny Ling. Advisory Board Member of international NGO, Human Rights at Sea, and a Research Fellow with the Institute for Human Rights and Business. Previously at the Centre for Human Rights Studies, University of Zurich, she is an independent researcher affiliated with the Cambridge Centre for Applied Research in Human Trafficking. Highly qualified (and an author) she consults as a legal analyst on responsible business conduct with a focus on Asia; serving as an election observer in East Timor and for the OSCE.