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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. If you would like to support our work, donate, or are a migrant in need of support please email us at –

[email protected]

[email protected]

Our Team:

Shamila Dhana. Trustee and founder member of PCoS. 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.

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!

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!

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.

Anita David. Action Asylum project lead, helping to integrate refugee volunteers with other local citizens. With many years’ experience teaching and volunteering in the charity sector, she draws on her vast knowledge of living and working with people of various backgrounds in southern Asia and the UK. Anita champions community learning, making a positive difference to people’s lives, especially migrant women from the BAME community.

Roni Edwards. Energise Me project lead, encouraging refugees to take up sporting and dance activities post Covid. Creative Practitioner with 15 years’ experience in curriculum-led schools dance, creative exchange projects for young people in disadvantaged communities in Africa, and dance-theatre production. Director to Pamodzi Creatives CIC in Portsmouth.

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.

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. Retired Religious Studies and English teacher at various Portsmouth schools, including St Johns College (and periods in their Lasallian schools in India, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia). A relatively new and committed PCoS volunteer, leading our Neighbours for Newcomers 9N4N) project-support for refugee nurses at QA Hospital.

Patience Mutunami. A Gender and Development expert with 5+ years’ experience working on gender related issues in a development context, Patience is our Safer Streets (SS3) and Safety of Women at Night (SWAN) project lead. A post-graduate researcher with an interest in tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Harmful Cultural Practices (including FGM), and poor women’s health (specifically HIV).

Emily Gould. Lives in Portsmouth, has been working in accountancy for the last 20 years, previously been treasurer and trustee of a small local charity supporting children with Cystic Fibrosis. Has been an active member of the NHS Volunteer Responder during the Covid pandemic supporting local people though contact, tasks and transport.

Valeria Robinson. Admin volunteer. Lives in Portsmouth, with background in Civil Service.