The team behind Local Welcome

Alice Newton-Rex


Alice Newton-Rex is VP of Product at WorldRemit, a fintech startup that helps migrants send money back to friends and family in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Before that she was a product manager on GOV.UK, and co-wrote the first digital strategy for the Ministry of Justice.


Ben Pollard

Co-founder & Director

Ben Pollard began his career documenting and supporting displaced communities in Bangladesh, East Africa and Zimbabwe before training as a community organiser in Washington DC and London where he co-founded the Citizens UK campaign to increase Syrian refugee resettlement.


Ella Fitzsimmons


Ella is a digital strategist and writer. She helps digital teams work out what they do and how they talk about it. She's Swedish and American and has worked in 3 continents, most recently at GDS, Doteveryone and now the Co-op. She recently submitted her PhD thesis about how new communities of Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women are emerging online.

Eva Farina

Project Management Assistant

After a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation, Eva Farina is currently completing an EMJMD in Inter-Mediterranean Mediation, specializing in migration and cooperation. From her volunteering experience in the Scout Mouvement, she got interested in community building and active citizenship.

James Darling

Co-founder & Director

James Darling has over 10 years of experience in the digital sector. He has been Technical Architect of the Labour Party, Head of Software Development at Ministry of Justice, Technical Lead at GOV.UK and Creative Technologist at design consultancy BERG. James also co-founded Rewired State.

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Kate Ivey-Williams

Service Designer

Kate is service design lead on GOV.UK at GDS. Before joining the civil service she studied for a Masters in European Design which took her from Glasgow School of Art to Germany and Finland. She then worked at Engine Service Design on a breadth of projects for clients including Dubai Airport, Channel 4, E.ON and Samsung.


Maria Izquierdo

Service Designer

Maria is a service designer at the Government Digital Service, currently working on Data Infrastructure. She has a Masters in Design Products from the Royal College of Art, and is interested in diversity, digital culture and wine.


Martin Dittus

Chair of board of trustees

Martin has a decade of experience in community organisations and social computing. He is currently completing a PhD at UCL, researching community engagement for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. He was a director and trustee at the London Hackspace, organiser and facilitator at Occupy London, Hack the Barbican, Electromagnetic Field, the Air Quality Egg DIY sensing community and others, and was a software developer for


Subhi Barakat


Subhi has more than a decade of experience in international law, including human rights, humanitarian law and environmental law. He has worked in law, policy and strategic direction across private, public and charity sectors and within the UN system. He has also been involved with charitable organisations in the UK and Canada. Subhi currently works with the least developed countries to get a fair and ambitious deal for the most vulnerable people in global climate change governance


Local Welcome has been co-designed with the support from Syrian leaders in the UK including:

Eiad Zeinah, Nasser Youssef, Adel Golan & Maher Barotchi


We wouldn't be here without help from Alex Pounds and Carmela Francolino