Zeinab Aboutak (Refugee Employment Network Coordinator)

Zeinab Aboutak

REN Coordinator

Zeinab joined the Refugee Employment Network REN in 2020 as the Refugee Employment Network Coordinator. She has an extensive experience working with refugees and disadvantaged people inside the UK and internationally. She has a Linguistic and Media & Communications academic background. Zeinab is a refugee herself and she is passionate about employing the utmost of her overseas experience to help refugees have equal access to employment.

Zeinab believes that ‘‘employment is the cornerstone for refugees to integrate in their newly adopted home. I strongly believe that every refugee in the UK should have access to meaningful employment regardless of their background. I’m especially glad to be part of REN to support employers and NGOs in helping refugees achieve their full potential.’’

Janice Lopatkin (Chair of REN)

Janice Lopatkin

Chair of REN

Janice is World Jewish Relief’s UK Programme Director and runs the Specialist Training and Employment Programme STEP, which supports resettled refugees in to employment. STEP is run in partnership with Coventry City Council, Bristol Council, Bradford Base, Refugee Council, BITC, TERN and SBC Theatre Company. Janice has over 20 years’ experience working for a range of charities and social businesses, developing and managing large scale projects. Janice was award and MBE for services to refugees in the June 2019 honours list.

‘‘As chair of REN I am working with Zeinab to establish the network to enable greater opportunities for the sector to provide sustainable employment and self-employment opportunities for refugees. It is fantastic to work with so many excellent sector organisations, local authorities, the Home Office, the DWP and UNHCR all towards a purpose of creating a better future for refugees in the UK.’’

Charlie Fraser (Partnerships Director at TERN)

Charlie Fraser

Partnerships Director at TERN

Charlie is the Partnerships Director at TERN, an ambitious social enterprise enabling refugees to thrive through the power of their own ideas.

Since 2016, TERN has worked with over 350 refugee entrepreneurs as part of their goal to launch 2,000 refugee-led businesses by 2025.

Charlie has been part of REN since it's initial conception in 2017 and is driven by ensuring refugees have fair access to livelihood support wherever they are in the UK.

Rebecca Ross (Programme Officer)

Rebecca Ross

Programme Officer

Rebecca started at World Jewish Relief in 2018 where she works as Programmes Officer on the Specialist Training and Employment Programme (STEP). STEP supports over 500 resettled refugees in the UK to find sustainable and meaningful work. Rebecca also spends a portion of her time in the role as Programme Officer, at the Refugee Employment Network. With a masters degree in Development Studies, Rebecca worked on programmes supporting refugees in Thailand, Myanmar and Greece before arriving in the UK.

“The Refugee Employment Network offers an exciting opportunity for a co-ordinated and collaborative approach to supporting refugees into employment. For me, seeing our STEP beneficiaries journey into work continues to emphasise the importance of employment - not only in terms of economic stability but also integration, independence, mental well-being and hopefully a better quality of life. It is essential.”