Jess MacIntyre - Founder & Chair
Following 7 years’ experience in frontline refugee services in Leeds, I noticed a gap in services for individuals who were doubly marginalised as LGBT+ individuals and as refugees/asylum seekers. Knowing the importance of community in my own coming out experience as a teenager, I was inspired to set up ReachOUT to fill this gap whilst I was studying for my Masters in Human Rights from York University. For 3 years I have been delivering LGBT+ sensitivity and awareness training to refugee services, legal centres, NHS trusts, school inspectors and mental health, counselling, and psychotherapy services . I have taught modules on this topic on three different postgraduate degrees at the Relate Institute at Birkbeck University of London, and undergraduate courses at Leeds Beckett University. I am so proud of how far we have come since our first meeting with 3 service users in 2012, and am honoured to be passionately involved with ReachOUT as it grows.
Pat McCusker, Secretary
I moved to Leeds about 9 years ago to study a Masters in Cultural Studies. During my time here I've been involved in the LGB&T* and Queer scenes, particularly in various kinds of social activism and putting on parties. A few years ago I was involved in Leeds No Borders. I have a strong belief in the importance of defending the rights of migrants. In the past few years I have been working for Yorkshire MESMAC, a charity that supports LGB&T* people - part of that work has been helping to set ReachOUT up with Jess. I'm really proud of what we have achieved in our first year and am excited about the group's future.
Cara Banerji-Parker - Treasurer
After graduating with a law degree from Leeds, I went on to study a Masters in Public International Law & Human Rights at LSE. Whilst in London I also gained experience in the running of a small charity, For Life. In the last year I have been the designated number-cruncher for ReachOUT and have watched it grow. As a caseworker for the Red Cross in Manchester, I have experience working with destitute refugees and asylum seekers, and was previously the project coordinator for the Red Cross' 2013 Refugee Week event. I am currently completing a PhD at the Manchester University Law School and will continue to keep ReachOUT's books in shape.
I have a Degree in Management and MSC in Environment and Development from University of Natal South Africa. After completing my studies, I worked at the Ministry of Agriculture in Eritrea as a national Project Assistant Coordinator. I have also worked as a volunteer with Groundwork Leeds, ATL Social Enterprise and the Refugee Council and as a freelance Interpreter and translator for NHS Leeds, Leeds City Council, Refugee Council and Wakefield Language Services. Before joining the British Red Cross as a Refugee Services Coordinator in 2011, I was an NHS Health Support Worker at York Street Medical Practice, which works with vulnerable and destitute adults in Leeds. It has been a pleasure to be part of ReachOUT since its beginning and I look forward to being on board for another year.
I have been an advocate for the rights of LGBT refugees, precarious workers, and other vulnerable populations since graduating from Stanford Law School. In my previous role as Head of Advocacy and Legal Services at the Organisation for Refuge, Asylum and Migration (ORAM), I oversaw and contributed to several publications on LGBT asylum issues, and built relationships between NGOs, inter-governmental institutions, legal institutions and academia. A recent San Francisco transplant to London, I currently work for the charity Reprieve to hold corporations and governments accountable for unlawful detentions in Guantánamo and for extrajudicial killings by drones.
Originally from Jersey City, I’m a cultural activist, arts programmer and curator now based in Manchester. I co-founded and for five years have run the Liverpool-based multimedia project Chew Disco, the flagship club night which raises money for LGBT and women’s rights support/advocacy organisations and safehouses operating in countries where legislation does not provide protection for (or explicitly denies rights to) these groups. More recently, I have been involved with community groups for LGBTs of colour and am currently involved in the creation of a global virtual support space for queer/gay male-identifying sex workers of Afro-diasporic heritage.
I am really excited to be the first ReachOUT service user on the board. As a transman from India, I understand the issues faced by sexual and gender minorities claiming asylum in the UK. In India I practiced as a lawyer, and intend to carry on representing trans* individuals across South Asia once I receive leave to remain. A passionate activist and committed group member, I look forward to helping guide ReachOUT this year.