Staff Team and Trustees.

Lisa Westlake

 

Lisa has worked for many years in administration and project management.  She has heart for reaching out into communities in practical ways. In 2015 she was moved by the unfolding refugee crisis in the Middle East; moved to take action!  When she heard about the Community Sponsorship Programme she met with the churches involved in CHARIS and is delighted to have been involved in CHARIS from the outset. She is a volunteer family resettlement coordinator for the first family, as well as being a Trustee of CHARIS. She has recently taken on the role in the region of building the capacity of Community Sponsorship in the South West.  She has personally been challenged, transformed and enriched by supporting a refugee family and is a keen advocate of other communities coming together and offering a generous welcome to those in need of support.

 

Gordon East

 

Gordon worked in various roles as an engineer and in senior management within the oil and gas industry for over 30 years, living for nine years in the Middle East and South East Asia.  During his career he has served on several Boards and brings a wealth of experience to the role as Trustee.  He has always had a heart for compassion and for justice, and feels a close affinity to the sufferings of those from the lands of the Middle East.  Working with CHARIS is a truly wonderful and exciting opportunity to express that calling.

 

Board of Trustees.

Simon Billington
Taunton Vineyard 

 

With his wife Rachelle, Simon leads the Vineyard Church in Taunton. Vineyard, as a movement of churches, has long had in-built into its DNA serving of the poor, the stranger, and the least as one of the ways in which we can see the Kingdom of God break in and redeem our broken world. The pages of Scripture ache with the heart of a compassionate God. Which is why the opportunity to be involved personally with the resettlement of refugees in our local area (and to lead our church into it) was one that captured Simon. He is grateful for the opportunity to live out his faith in a practical way by serving the board of trustees and the charity's vision itself.

 

Rev Ewen Huffman
Creech St Michael Baptist Church

 

Ewen is Lead Pastor of Creech St Michael Baptist church and found his heart for the current refugee crisis in March 2015 which led to a few of the founding members of Charis meeting together to discuss possibilities. The rest is history - and a somewhat astonishing one at that. We can hardly believe how far we have come in being  able to express the heart and compassion of God for the refugee and homeless and do something practical about it. Ewen considers it a huge privilege to be involved in Charis and work with people who have turned a flutter of the heart in March 2015 into reality. What an amazing team.

 

Richard Austin
St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton

 

Richard claims he became a CHARIS volunteer by mistake. "When my wife and I heard that accommodation was needed for a refugee family we thought - we have a spare bedroom , we can help. At the time we did not realise that the appeal was for a self-contained house or flat. But God works in mysterious ways and once we heard about the plan to sponsor a refugee family we were keen to offer what help we could."

Richard's career in the media has meant that he can help with promoting CHARIS and advising on how to help with press enquiries.  He enjoys driving, so early taxi duties were no problem. Previous experience as a trustee of another Somerset charity has given Richard the confidence to accept an invitation to join the board.

Richard says that working as a volunteer with 'our refugees' has been a delight.  It has broadened his mind and, like most service, is spiritually rewarding.

 

Rathika Chinnadurai
Creech St Michael Baptist Church

 

Rathika is an employment lawyer and set up her own law firm, Pioneer Law, in 2014.  She has also recently become an adoptive parent and sees the community sponsorship program as an opportunity for local communities to essentially adopt refugee families, providing a safe and secure environment for them to grow. As a teenager she had the privilege of spending her summer holidays visiting her father whilst he was working for UNHCR in Ethiopia and then Indonesia. Those formative teenage years, and the experiences she gained, gave her a heart for the plight of refugees and whilst she was at university she set up Cardiff STAR (Student Action for Refugees).  Rathika is passionate about the work CHARIS does and is excited to see what the future has in store for CHARIS, our refugee families and our community.

 

Phil Hindle (Treasurer)
Taunton Baptist Church

 

Phil has been a travel agent for 10 years and has run his own business for 8 of them. Previously he was Bursar at Bristol Baptist College, and a team manager with the Baptist Missionary Society.

A member of Taunton Baptist church, Phil was drawn to CHARIS at its first public meeting when his concern for suffering people chimed with CHARIS’ desire to help refugees in practical ways.

Phil is finance officer of the South West Baptist Association, which brings skills which are important in his role as CHARIS’ Treasurer.

 

Ralph Bullock
Creech St Michael Baptist Church

 

Ralph has worked in education since 1981 and throughout his career he has been employed in Somerset Primary Schools. He was Headteacher at Churchstanton Primary and then Bishop's Hull Primary (both near Taunton). He retired from Headship in August 2015.

His present job role for Somerset Local Authority takes up the bulk of his working time, which predominantly involves supporting newer Headteachers at the start of their careers. Ralph is also employed by the University of Worcester on their School Improvement Team and is currently fulfilling a contract supporting Primary and Special Schools within Stoke on Trent Local Authority.

Since moving to Somerset in 1981 with his wife Marjorie, Ralph has been a member of Creech St Michael Baptist Church. When CHARIS was first formed Ralph volunteered to sit on the Management Group, taking responsibility for Safeguarding and School Placement. He joined the Board earlier this spring. For him, working for CHARIS has been incredibly satisfying and humbling. Being able to show love and compassion to families of strangers and help them settle and flourish in safety he believes to be both a joy and a privilege.