COLIN FALCONER (CHAIRMAN)
Colin Falconer is Director of InspireChilli, a consultancy that specialises in asset-based and youth-led approaches. InspireChilli’s ‘Team Young People’ collective of youth entrepreneurs judge the annual Room for Young People awards and support Colin’s varied work with charities, housing associations and funders, which spans from the UK all the way to Australia.
Previously, Colin was Director of Innovation at youth homeless charity The Foyer Federation over 15 years, during which time he introduced the charity’s ground-breaking ‘Advantaged Thinking’ approach and led on the development of its internationally recognised quality assurance scheme. Colin has worked in various community learning and education roles. He holds an MA from UEA, has a first-class honours degree and teaching qualification, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. His many speaking credits include a TEDx performance in Thessaloniki and a London theatre show. He is also a trustee for SoundDelivery Media.
Keshon is a Law undergraduate student at SOAS, University of London. He trained as a paralegal with the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP) but began work as an Administrative Clerk with a Criminal Legal Aid practitioner. Since then, Keshon has been working as a volunteer paralegal - assisting solicitors on criminal, civil and family litigation proceedings. Keshon's foremost aspirations are to progress through tertiary education, obtain an LLB Law degree, and take the Bar Course with a view to becoming a barrister. Keshon has a passion for Criminal Justice and hopes to change the national discussion around Criminal Legal Aid.
BUDDIKA PERERA ACCA MPAcc MSc (TREASURER)
A charted qualified accountant with over 15 years’ experience, he is employed in Accountancy Practice where he works to improve the quality of financial controls and financial reporting.
He started his career in Non-life Insurance and spent a decade working with British Credit Unions and Banking regulation. Buddika moved to Accountancy Practice in 2018, where he started collaborating with multiple clients specialising in charity accounting. Talk to him about corporate governance, strategy, corporate reporting, corporate finance, performance management, risk, problem solving, change management, outsourced back office and systems migration, and set up.
MAHERAJ AHMED LIAN (VICE CHAIR)
Maheraj Lian is a gap year student currently working as a backend developer at an EdTech Startup with aspirations to work at a FAANG company. He is greatly interested in the fields of technology and healthcare and holds offers to study both Computer Science and Medicine at university.
Born in Bangladesh, Maheraj immigrated with his family to the UK at the age of 5 in 2008 and has lived here since. Finding out he was ineligible for student finance due to immigration status in 2020 led him to We Belong and from this, an appreciation for the large numbers of young people in the same position. He now works to raise awareness where possible for the problems young migrants face through the network developed during his time at Eton College, where he studied A levels on a sixth form scholarship, and as a governor on the board of his secondary school.
Stewart MacLachlan is Legal & Policy Manager for the Migrant Children’s Project, part of Coram Children’s Legal Centre. He has worked at Coram for 7 years and focuses on policy, training and guidance. His expertise is in child law and the overlap with immigration, asylum and nationality law. Stewart is a Scottish solicitor, qualifying in 2010, and was previously accredited as a level 2 supervisor under the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme in England. Stewart previously worked at a legal aid immigration firm in England and worked for over 4 years in law centres in Scotland, representing children and young people. He is co-author of Seeking Support (fifth edition), a guide to working with separated children and young people. He sits on a number of working groups related to children and asylum, education and care. He is current chair of the Board of Trustees at the Scottish Child Law Centre, having been on the board since August 2018
Joel is a qualified Youth Worker and has worked with young people for over 15 years, specialising in youth participation and empowerment. Joel is the Head of Safeguarding and Participation at the youth charity ESTEEM, and brings this expertise to the WB board of trustees. Prior to this, Joel was the Director of Programmes and Participation at Just for Kids Law where he developed the participatory involvement of young people in the running of the organisation, and where he met We Belong co-CEOs Chrisann and Dami.
SUFINA AHMAD MBE
Sufina joined John Ellerman Foundation in January 2020 as their Director. The Foundation is an endowed grantmaker that aims to advance wellbeing for people, society and the natural world, through its grantmaking (in the areas of the arts, social action and environment), investing and wider operations. In 2022, Sufina finished a two-year Executive MBA programme, with a specialism in Strategic Leadership, at Warwick Business School.
Before joining the Foundation, Sufina worked in corporate strategy and performance at the City of London Corporation. She has also worked for the National Lottery Community Fund and City Bridge Foundation in grantmaking, strategy and policy roles. Sufina started her career in service delivery and business development roles for charities working with adults with learning disabilities and older people.
Sufina is a Trustee for We Belong, The Charterhouse and the Association of Charitable Foundations. She is also a Grants Committee Member for Youth Futures Foundation. Sufina is an honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, having chaired their Expert Panel on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Sufina was awarded an MBE for charitable services in 2020.
Jamilla is the Senior Advisor to Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, London’s Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, at the Greater London Authority, where she works to improve Londoners’ life chances, boost social integration, enhance equality, and ensure that community voice is heard across the Mayor’s programmes. Prior to that, she worked at the Greater London Authority to support the establishment of the Violence Reduction Unit and develop its work with communities, as well as build relationships with the boroughs, members of parliament and central government on behalf of the Mayor. Prior to the GLA, Jamilla worked at a number of national charities including Save the Children, where she led campaigns to improve opportunities for children facing barriers in the UK.