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About us

Our people

Our team is made up of passionate and experienced staff - majority first and second generation migrants with lived experience of the UK's immigration system - who are guided in their work by our dedicated trustees.


Fizza Qureshi


Fizza is the CEO of the Migrants’ Rights Network.

Fizza joined MRN in August 2016. She previously worked at the Terrence Higgins Trust for just over 3 years covering the London and East of England sexual health and HIV services. Before this, she worked as a Programme Manager for an international medical humanitarian organisation where she was responsible for its UK independent health clinic, and health advocacy programme supporting migrants to access healthcare.

Fizza has a degree in Human Rights and Social Change, and a degree in Biotechnology. She has previously served as Board Member of MRN, the Institute of Race Relations and Healthwatch Newham.

She is the Co-Chair of the3million, on the board of Migrants at Work and on the honorary advisory committee for the Black Europeans.

Contact Fizza at: [email protected] (please note she works part-time: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday morning, 9am-12.30pm).

Eliyes Omar

Finance Administrator

Eliyes joined MRN in September 2017. He is in charge of MRN’s financial management. Eliyes has enjoyed maths since his childhood. He is a mathematics graduate and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Mathematics. He also holds a Level 3 Advanced Diploma in IT, and a Level 3 Diploma in Accounting (AAT). 

Contact Eliyes at: [email protected]. Eliyes works Mon (half day) and Thursday’s.

Katia Widlak

Community Projects Manager

Katia joined MRN in November 2021 as the Interim London Project Coordinator and is now our Community Projects Manager.

Katia was a trade union organiser in the National Strategic and Organising Unit of UNISON, and the organising lead for the EU Citizens’ Right to Remain campaign.

She joined the3million, a grassroots organisation led by EU nationals to safeguard existing rights post-Brexit, a few months after it was set up in 2016. Her involvement with the3million was organic and in continuity with her work and values. As a migrant herself, most of her work revolves around organising migrant workers in understanding their rights at work, and campaigning for better rights in general. She understood straight away that Brexit will be utilised to threaten and erode the rights of people who arrived under free movement, but also of all migrants in general.

In 2019 she co-founded a charity called Settled. Its aim is to reach out and to support EEA nationals and their family members in making applications for the EU Settlement Scheme, so as to avoid becoming undocumented after the cut off period. The charity is training and accrediting volunteers who are committed to supporting and reaching out to their local community.

Contact Katia at [email protected]

Ana Gavalas

Communications Officer

Ana joined MRN in December 2021 as the Digital Marketing Apprentice. As of March 2023 she has been working as the Communications Officer.

She has an LLB in Law and a Distinction in MA Transnational Queer Feminist Politics. She previously worked as a paralegal.

She is particularly interested in decolonisation, and in queerness a mode of resistance. Ana is heavily invested in analysing and critiquing the border as a site of violence for racialised and migratised communities.

She really enjoys content creation, music, art and writing.

Contact Ana at [email protected]

Julia Tinsley-Kent

Policy and Strategic
Communications Manager

Julia joined MRN in June 2022.

Julia manages MRN’s policy, public affairs, press and communications activities. She is an LGBTQ+ activist and artist, and is involved in numerous movements at a grassroots level.

She previously worked for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and the National Lottery Community Fund, gaining extensive experience in strategic communications, advocacy and policy. Alongside this experience, she has in-depth knowledge of issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK through her activism work.  

Julia has a degree in Politics and History from Newcastle University and a qualification in Public Policy Analysis from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Contact Julia at [email protected]

Simon Cheng

Hong Kongers’ MAP Coordinator

Simon joined MRN in August 2023.

He is a Hong Kong exiled pro-democracy activist, a founder of the UK-wide Hong Kong diasporic non-profit organisation – Hongkongers in Britain – which headquartered in Central London.

Simon studied at National Taiwan University and London School of Economics for political science, international relations and European studies, and worked for trade and investment at British Consulate General Hong Kong.

Due to his staunch pro-democracy stance, Simon is known by many when he was detained by Chinese authorities, hunted by state security police, stigmatised by the state media, and now as a political refugee and British National (Overseas) citizen in the UK.

Simon is a pioneer who firstly proposes three new but separate stages of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement under the Hong Kong ‘national (state) security law’ era, namely “Self-Help” (Haven Assistance), “Self-Reliance” (Hongkongers in Britain), and “Self-Empowerment” (Hong Kong ‘Shadow’ Parliament, lately renamed in Hong Kong Parliament), and he continues to be on the frontline.

Simon firmly believes in a bottom-up route for democratic enfranchisement which could keep the mass public engaged with the activists, while consolidating the exiled diaspora in solidarity with the faith in democratisation back to his old and new hometowns.

His tactics and strategies are effectively bringing human rights of Hongkongers into the social policy and domestic issue of the UK and its global democratic allies, its work on Hong Kong BN(O) legacy with resettlement scheme and as a core part of British and universal heritage, history, value and future.

Lauren Fernandes

Policy and Campaigns Assistant

Lauren joined MRN in August 2023.

They have a BA in History and International Relations and an MA in Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies. Their research has focused on bordering and South Asian diasporas in Britain.

Lauren has previous experience in public advocacy concerning systemic Islamophobia in counter-terror practices, as well as decolonial work in universities. They are interested in the intersections of state violence in bordering and resistance to these systems.

Contact Lauren at [email protected]


Dr Javier Mármol Queraltó


Dr Javier Mármol Queraltó obtained his PhD in Linguistics at the University of Lancaster (2022), where he examined the (multimodal) representation of events involving migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, across British and Spanish quality newspapers. Javier is passionate about discourses of migration and firmly believes language (and other meaning-making systems) is an essential tool to facilitate people’s integration and wellbeing in society.

Javier combines his activities at the MRN with academic duties at the University of Southampton, where he focuses on Learning Design, Technology-Enhanced Teaching and other related disciplines. Javier is a Spanish and English trained teacher and focuses on pedagogical and critical aspects stemming from the adoption and integration of new and existing technologies in Higher Education contexts.

Ernest Ulaya


Ernest is an ambassador and policy research volunteer at the Migrant’s Rights Network. In his role, he works across a variety of areas including asylum accommodation, community outreach, and capacity building, where he passionately champions the invaluable “Know Your Rights Guide.”

Ernest’s journey has ignited an ardent desire for a more inclusive and welcoming environment in the UK. Through his efforts in community outreach amongst asylum seekers, he has come to realise that beneath the surface of every asylum seeker lies a unique story. This revelation has spurred him to launch ‘The Voices of Hope podcast,’ a platform that provides individuals with lived experiences the opportunity to showcase their resilience, by sharing their unique stories, experiences, ideas, and aspirations.

He holds a degree in Environmental Science.

Board of Trustees

MRN has an active Board of Trustees, responsible for the overall management of the organisation.

Sainga Tony


Sainga is the Chair of the Migrants’ Rights Network board. She started her Chair role in January 2023. Sainga has been on the board since 2019.

Sainga studied accountancy before working in a large local authority in a London borough, followed by a role in a small BAME housing association and a Directorship at a race equality charity, and brings over 14 years’ housing, local government and charity experience with her. Sainga spent many years developing strategies to combat the effects of various Government changes that disproportionately affect BAME communities, including welfare reform, and successfully implemented strategies to reduce evictions in temporary housing for 18-24 year olds. 

Sainga has been key in working collaboratively with local authorities and BME London housing providers to empower residents through access to employment and skills training, and has successfully set up a number of small business ventures. Sainga’s specialisms include: housing, welfare benefits, business development, stakeholder management, strategic leadership, influencing and motivational skills.

Sainga is passionate about creating an equal, fairer and inclusive society where everyone is given the opportunity to prosper, particularly BAME communities, young people, and other disadvantaged groups.

Contact Sainga at [email protected]

Edith Yembra


Edith Yembra is a qualified Accountant and a Fellow of the ACCA. She also holds a Diploma in International Financial Reporting Standards from the ACCA. Edith has an MSc in Charity Accounting and Financial Management from the London South Bank University. Prior to joining the Florence Nightingale Foundation, Edith worked with the YMCA North London, part of the YMCA Federation Movement, a charitable company, and registered housing provider as Director of Finance & ICT and Company Secretary from May 2012 to April 2021.

Edith also worked with the Institute of the Motor Industry, a membership organisation, and Sector Skills Council for the automotive retail industry as Group Finance Director from March 2009 to October 2010. She worked with Engerywatch, as Head of Finance & Projects from September 2004 to March 2010. Before joining Engerywatch, she worked with Interact Worldwide formerly Population Concern as Director of Finance & Administration and Company Secretary from February 1989 to September 2004.

Edith is currently Vice Chair of the ACCA Public Sector panel and does advocacy work for ACCA and contributes to the AB Magazine as and when required. Edith was Chair of the ACCA London and Southeast Women panel from 2009 to 2016 where she received an Outstanding Achievement Award from ACCA in 2016.

Edith also sits on the Board of Creating New Beginnings – a special needs charity for young children. She has worked in the charity sector for over 30 years.

Edith is interested in joining the vibrant MRN and to help contributes towards the vision and mission of an organisation that works so tirelessly in advocating and supporting migrants who would otherwise be unable to help themselves with the different changes and complexities of the immigration laws.

Eduardo Lopes

Secretary to the Board

Eduardo Joined the MRN board in October 2022 as Secretary.

He works within the Greater London Authority’s migration team, where he supports the coordination of the capital’s Hong Kong BN(O) Integration Programme.

Earlier in his career, Eduardo advised charities, grassroots groups, and global businesses on their political advocacy and communication strategies. He worked in Public Affairs firms in both Brussels and London, specialising in the human rights and sustainability sectors.

As a first-generation migrant and LGBTQ+ Londoner that arrived from Portugal under free movement, Eduardo is passionate about challenging negative narratives of migration and promoting the richness and diversity migrants add to British society. He holds a Masters Degree in European Affairs from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (SciencesPo Paris) and an Undergraduate Degree in International Relations from Queen Mary University of London.

Nick Sigler

Board Member

Nick Sigler worked for the labour movement for nearly forty years, firstly for the Labour Party in a range of positions, and latterly as the head of the International Department of UNISON, Britain’s largest trade union.

In addition Nick has worked overseas in a number of positions including in the European Parliament and for the OSCE in Serbia. Throughout his career Nick has been responsible for managing a range of projects in different parts of the world, working with emerging political parties, trade unionists and other activists. 

Following his ‘retirement’ in 2013, Nick has been a trustee of a number of charities including the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and RefugeeYouth. The son of refugees from Nazi Germany, Nick has always felt a commitment to protecting and enhancing the rights of migrants and refugees, and to ensuring that the enormous benefits they bring to the country and their communities are better understood and valued.

Contact Nick at [email protected]

Michael Raff

Board Member

Michael Raff is a trainee solicitor in the City of London. Before this, he gained significant experience on the island of Lesvos in Greece, which is considered to be the epicenter of the “refugee crisis” in Europe. In 2018, he volunteered as a Team Leader for an emergency response NGO, helping to coordinate rescue efforts for asylum seekers crossing from Turkey. In 2020, he returned to the island with an NGO providing legal aid to asylum seekers. Michael assisted individuals by preparing them for their asylum interviews, as well as submitting a number of family reunification applications under the Dublin III Regulation.

Through this experience, Michael has developed a passion for helping and standing in solidarity with those forced to flee from their homes.

Joanna Knight

Board Member

Joanna is a monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) consultant, who works with the migrant rights sector and other social justice organisations, campaigns and movements to support them to evidence their successes, learn from their challenges and think about how they want to achieve positive change. She specialises in collaborative inquiry, qualitative MEL techniques (such as Outcome Harvesting and participatory action research) and facilitating Theory of Change processes. She is a skilled facilitator and partnership broker, with significant hands-on experience with the design and implementation of multi-country, multi-stakeholder monitoring and evaluation support to migrant rights, civil rights and humanitarian programmes. She has recently set up her own small consultancy, MERL, which aims to take an anti-racist and decolonial approach to learning and knowledge generation. 

Prior to starting her consultancy work, Joanna worked in the development and humanitarian sector for over 15 years. She has worked with and for people forced from their homes since starting her career in the humanitarian sector, working for Right to Play in the Republic of Guinea with Liberian refugees. After working with Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) for several years in Central African Republic, Ethiopia and South Sudan, she returned to the UK and came to recognise her white privilege in being able to travel, work and live in other countries, as well as the unequal access to rights, opportunities and safety for migrants in the UK. She has been volunteering, campaigning and working with and for migrants’ rights ever since. She is currently finishing her MSc in Global Migration and Social Justice. She is co-chair of the MSF UK Association Take Action Group against the Hostile Environment, and is also involved with local migrants’ rights campaigns. 

Joanna strongly believes that everyone should be free to live where they want to live and not face hostility and oppression for it. She is passionate about the vision and values of MRN, and is determined to fight for migrants’ access to rights, and for the creation of a more inclusive and just society.

Sunflower Seeds 2010 Ai Weiwei born 1957 Purchased with assistance from Tate International Council, the American Patrons of Tate, the Art Fund, and Stephen and Yana Peel 2012 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T13408

Sara Battey

Board Member

Sara joined the MRN board in September 2023 as their Fundraising Trustee.

She is currently working for Hackney Foodbank as their Head of Communications and Fundraising. Sara has worked in the charity sector, supporting a variety of different organisations, since she finished her MSc in Global Criminology in 2017. Her academic focus was on the issue of human trafficking in the UK and has been continually providing charities, who focus on the issue, with support in communications, campaigns, fundraising and policy.

Sara is herself a migrant who moved to the UK in 2012 and is passionate about supporting MRN and other migrants in their fights for rights and justice.