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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.


Malcolm Little. Chair of Trustees. Malcolm has a military and commercial background.  In addition he previously ran British Red Cross refugee services in Hants and 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. Retired Promotions Manager at the University of Portsmouth’s Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries. She is a skilled project manager, creative producer, administrator and mentor. Passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion. Emeritus member of the University of Sanctuary working group which offers two Sanctuary Scholarships for asylum seekers.

Patience Mutunami. PCoS Trustee and Research Fellow in the School of Area Studies, Sociology, History, Politics and Literature at the University of Portsmouth.  Her research focuses on issues of gender and development, specifically the intersectionality of harmful practices such as FGM, child marriage, bride price, polygamy, and women and girls’ vulnerability to HIV infection. Patience is interested in the role that conservative gender ideology plays in legitimising violence against women and girls and perpetuating gender inequality. As a feminist researcher activist, she is interested in how vulnerabilities and subjectivities are formed and how agency and autonomy is negotiated.  Through an applied research lens, Patience critiques approaches to development policy and practice, arguing for policy makers to maximise opportunities to end violence against women and girls.

Shamila Dhana. Trustee and 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 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.

Project leaders

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.

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.

Ang Weston is a FMAAT (fellow member of association of accounting technicians) and provides PCoS financial support. She has lived in the Gosport and Portsmouth area all of her life and has worked in the voluntary and charity sector since 1999. She provided voluntary financial help to smaller organisations whilst working as the Finance Head in local council community services. Ang’s specialism includes financial support at a granular level as well as complex financial reporting to official bodies such as The Charity Commission.