Below are some short bios of ours which should help give a little context as to how we all ended up here in this beautiful, busy little group helping combat gender-based violence in Edinburgh and beyond.
Angela Voulgari is the Service Team Leader for Bright Choices at Sacro, supporting individuals, families and communities affected by Honour Based Violence. Angela’s interest and involvement in this area of work started very early in life: the child of a migrant family to Greece, she grew up familiar with the impacts of migration on an individual as well as a collective level.
At the age of 15 she started volunteering at the Mother Theresa Foundation in Athens, supporting women and children refugees from the Middle East and the Balkan region through therapeutic and educational activities. It was that experience that consolidated Angela’s passion to work in the area of equality and human rights. At 18 she travelled to Edinburgh to study Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, while volunteering with organisations focusing on disability, mental health and women’s rights. As a psychotherapist specialising on issues around culture, migration, identity and trauma, Angela worked extensively with survivors of forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) which led to her ongoing activism in the area of Honour Based Violence.
To date, Angela continues to lead in the area of Honour Based Violence in Edinburgh by supporting individuals with therapeutic interventions while running the SSSC Award winning Bright Choices team. She is involved in a number of networks on Forced Marriage and FGM, while also working closely with Police Scotland, the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government. Angela’s mission is to contribute to creating a world with equality of opportunity for all where discrimination, stigmatisation and violence are things of the past.
Niharika (Nika) Puri made her mark across her home country of India with a broad swathe of successful projects: from developing gender sensitisation initiatives in policy-level government organisations, to personally delivering sensitisation trainings in police hubs, law offices, schools, civic halls, and various statutory organisations. As part of her role in the Gender Training Institute (Centre for Social Research) India, Nika managed four Rape Crisis Intervention Centre for two years, furthering mediation, intervention, and counselling procedures, and contributing to the legal proceedings against perpetrators in some of the most crime-ridden areas of north India. In the south, she curated several projects aimed at human trafficking and violence against women in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Around this work, Nika has travelled extensively as a solo backpacker across the Indian subcontinent, engaging in volunteer tourism with a range of charitable organisations.
Moving to the UK has not slowed Nika’s momentum at all; alongside attaining her MSc in Festival and Event Management, she started a project with Edinburgh Napier’s Bright Red Triangle themed on community development and active citizenship, Changing Perceptions, now a well-established entity working collectively with 35 charities and statutory organisations across the UK. She currently works as the Programme Officer at BRT alongside continued involvement in third sector organisations combating honour-based violence and violence against women.
Nhabeela Rahmatullah is a law graduate having recently completed her Professional Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Glasgow. She has worked within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for over 16 years in specialist departments such as the Appeals Unit, High Court, Health and Safety, Wildlife and Environmental Crime, Human Resource, and most recently as ICP Manager in the Procurator Fiscal’s Office. During her time in the service she has worked closely with Procurator Fiscals and assisted in the prosecution of a number of high profile cases. She has attended court and dealt with sensitive information, witnesses and engaged with a number of different agencies.
Nhabeela has been a keen member of the COPFS Equality team and has lead, and promoted a number of diversity events both internally and externally . She continues to raise awareness of hate crime and gender based violence, and is a human rights activist continuously promoting diversity. Over the years Nhabeela has worked as a volunteer, trustee board member assisting organisations such as the Salvation Army, Refugee Survival Trust, EARN equalities network in supporting those in destitute situations.
Nhabeela hopes this platform will allow her to reach out to many more in order to combat gender based violence, and allow our heroes/survivors to share their stories!
Hannah Lawrence is currently completing her doctorate at the University of St Andrews. Her thesis is on current exclusionary practices in the British heritage industry and the industry’s responsibility to discuss and disseminate BME historical narratives within the British built environment. In this capacity she has worked as a curatorial intern and guest blogger for the National Trust of Scotland.
Outwith academia, Hannah has worked as project coordinator for a project entitled ‘Barriers of Poverty and Inequality’ with the Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Equality Council (ELREC). In this project she worked with and researched African, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi communities to Edinburgh in order to better understand their barriers to personal and economic success. Her report served to give a voice to these disenfranchised communities in hopes that they can personally inform change at both the governmental and non-governmental levels. This report can be accessed here: http://www.elrec.org.uk/publications/
Hannah has also consistently been involved in editing and writing academically and professionally. She was an analyst for the St Andrews Foreign Affairs review specialising in women’s rights and the international affairs of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. After this she became an editor of the St Andrews Foreign Affairs Review, again specialising in women’s and human rights articles. She is now currently the editor of the St Andrews Postgraduate Magazine and runs the blog associated with Edinburgh’s 16 days of action against GBV. In the past she has been a volunteer for a project which chronicles immigration stories of BME communities in Edinburgh, and a mapping volunteer through the United Nations for the Tanzania Development Trust, which helps organisations in Tanzania to find and save girls at risk for female genital mutilation (FGM).
Her passion for female empowerment and tackling gender inequality worldwide continues to drive every personal and professional decision she makes.
Dr. Kathy Velander’s role as an academic has enabled her to become involved in projects world-wide
advising communities on the how, what, when and where of developing ecotourism. Her emphasis is
on capacity building as well as developing the product, by helping communities to address their
training needs. Her work has involved assessing the viability of teaching tourists about indigenous
medicines in Colombia, developing ecotourism in Honduras and funding conservation and community
development in Ecuador. In Nepal and Fiji she carried out capacity building exercises and advised
on infrastructure development, marketing and rewards in Honduras. In Estonia she helped produce a
Strategy for Development for the Setomaa Eco-villages project and was consultant on a project to
improve tourism competitiveness in Estonia and Finland. In Scotland she recently provided
Ecotourism development training and fact sheets for the Loch Lomond area as well as co-facilitating
a ‘have your say’ exercise in the Broomhouse, SIghthill and Parkhead, Edinburgh.
A US Native, and resident of Scotland since 1993, Audrey Barnes gained a passion for non-profits and volunteering at an early age. Inspired during her time as a volunteer presenter for Edinburgh University’s Sci-Fun Roadshow at the age of 13, she was able to witness the value of collaborative work between industries, as well as communities, due to the outreach nature of the organisation. Since then, she has remained an active volunteer in several projects focused on collaboration and intersectional representation, working with organisations such as Changing Perceptions, EIFA, Equality Network, Honor The Earth, Idle No More, Remembering Srebrenica, Women’s Engineering Society, and NUS UK.
Audrey is currently studying towards her Masters of Science degree in Intercultural Business Communication, at Edinburgh Napier University. A previous student of BA International Business Management, and prior to that, BEng Aerospace Engineering, she brings an interest in various industries and sectors, and a passion for opening up greater opportunities within them for individuals from under-represented groups, and fostering cross-cultural collaboration.
Gon has a diverse professional background ranging from poetry and creative writing, through to artificial intelligence and computer science, and most recently nursing and corporate social responsibility. Gon’s uniquely varied background makes him exceptionally innovative, creative yet pragmatic.
He is the current Head of Research and Innovation of First Aid Africa, an international charity committed to the development, delivery and promotion of sustainable first aid education in rural areas of southern and eastern Africa. During his time in this position he has led an innovative restructure of the research department, establishing half a dozen different research projects in collaboration with academics from Edinburgh Napier University, St. Andrews University, Cardiff University and other institutions around the UK.
His innovative perspective and enthusiastic attitude is a valuable asset for any project. Gon is also vehemently committed to the promotion of individual and social responsibility.