Charity details

At FODI, we believe that everyone deserves a chance to thrive.

That’s why we help asylum-seekers and refugees in Sunderland find their way in the community, whether it’s through the charity’s programmes or just by being part of something bigger than themselves.

We see people who have been forced to flee their homes and are living in limbo, without support or a place to call home. We want to give them a chance to be active members of their communities again—and better yet, we want to do it together!

FODI is a not-for-profit charity that provides funding for projects that improve the lives of asylum seekers and refugees in Sunderland by providing access to community resources and opportunities.

FODI aims to improve the mental health and well-being of the asylum-seeking and refugee community of Sunderland. In doing so we hope to lessen their social isolation and promote their integration into the wider community, by supporting and extending the activities of the Drop-In. FODI has no religious affiliations. All asylum seekers and refugees are welcome.

Our objectives:

  • To provide opportunities for the clients of the Drop-In to participate in wider societal activities of a suitable nature.
  • To foster closer links into the wider community, providing opportunities for clients to link into this.
  • To work in partnership with other local organisations/groups to further this aim.

FODI officially began in November 2011 when our constitution was signed. With a vision to support the Drop-In and expand the positive impact, FODI achieved charitable status in July 2013 and became a CIO in 2018. Our registered charity number is 1176524.

Our team

Fanni Ngambi Tel:+447548756382

Fanni took over as manager in December 2023 after working for almost two years as FODI Operations Assistant. She is continuing the supervision of all basic services of FODI for the asylum seekers and refugees in Sunderland as well as the development of new projects and collaborations helping to develop a sense of belonging and inclusion. Fanni is committed to her role, advocating widely for the future of the asylum seeker community. She acknowledges the dedication and care that goes into the running of FODI through its impressive team of volunteers. She brings a wealth of lived experience to the role.

Farkhunda Nawzadi Tel +447918814057
Operations Assistant

Farkhunda Nawzadi is originally from Afghanistan. She has a BA in journalism from her country and MA in Business Administration, Mass Communication and Public Relations from National Institute of Business Management of India. She is also a certified translator/Interpreter in UK. She previously worded as a news reporter for Radio Free Europe, Senior Information Officer for Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, Health Magazine manager for Premier Urgent/Aid Medical International, Translation Officer for Medicines Sans Frontiers and Translator and Subtitler for Peace of Mind Afghanistan. She joined the staff team in the role of Operations Assistant in November 2023. She helps to run all FODI regular activities such as the drop in and women’s group and supports many individuals through her language skills. She has recent lived experience as an asylum seeker in Sunderland and is able to assist services users who speak Pashto, Dari, Farsi and Urdu.

Luke Shannon : ESOL COORDINATOR +447901276938

Luke is a TEFL and CELTA-qualified teacher who currently works part-time as our ESOL Project Co-ordinator. The ESOL Project, funded by the National Lottery’s Know Your Neighbourhood scheme, aims to not only help FODI clients improve their level of English, but also promote opportunities for engagement in the local community through social events, volunteering, and cultural excursions. Originally from Ireland, Luke attended secondary school in Sunderland and has lived and worked in China, Germany, Czech Republic and Hungary, before returning to the UK in 2020.

Maria Overton: Finance Officer

Maria joined FODI in April 2023. She is responsible for the weekly finance operations of FODI. Although not in direct contact with FODI clients, she has a wealth of experience in working with asylum seekers & refugees from her various past roles in different organisations, among them  Freedom from Torture and Oxfam. “I am fortunate to be part of such a small, committed and hard-working team of colleagues, trustees and volunteers.”

Our Volunteers

The important work of FODI is not possible without our dedicated volunteers who give up their free time to help run the Drop-In and its many associated activities. Our volunteers are a diverse mixture of people from both the local and asylum-seeker & refugee community.

Management Committee
Our Trustees

Chairperson: Stephen Newman: Steve started volunteering with FODI when he retired from teaching after more than 30 years in secondary schools in Sunderland. He became a trustee in 2018 and Chair in 2020. “My long-standing association with Amnesty International led me to FODI, and I’m endlessly grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve interacted with as a result- asylum seekers, volunteers, FODI workers,  trustees and donors.”

Treasurer: Mahnur Roushan

Committee members:

Jane Nikolarakis: I am a trustee and volunteer and one of the founding members of FODI. I grew up in South Shields and studied modern foreign languages at University College London. I have had a varied career including systems analysis, restaurant business in Crete, modern foreign language teacher ,police interpreter and finally Community Engagement officer in Sunderland with Northumbria Police. As part of my police role, I was the asylum seeker liaison officer and attended the drop in at St Mary’s on a regular basis. I found it to be a welcoming, safe space for refugees and those seeking asylum. I understood from experience how difficult it is to have left behind everything you know and come to a country where you do not speak the language and have no friends or family support. After discussions with those running the drop in, we decided to set up FODI as an organisation to extend the work at the drop in. We ran FODI with volunteers only for several years, achieved charity status and eventually got funding to employ a paid manager, Sandra Watt, who has worked tirelessly to extend the work of FODI, create new projects and partnerships and make FODI a successful and respected organisation. I feel so proud of the work FODI does and that from our little acorn of an idea, a great oak tree is growing.  


Abraham Eiluorior: Abraham joined the Board Trustees in 2016, having been a volunteer since 2014 when he relocated to Sunderland.  He has a PhD (Law) from Durham University and is currently teaching in Jersey.   As an asylum seeker and now a refugee, Abraham thought it was necessary to continue to support the wonderful work FODI is doing, having himself been a beneficiary. 

Brenda Reardon: I worked with Asylum seekers and refugees for over 10 years as a Housing manager and welfare manager. I started to volunteer at FODI in 2022  when I changed my career to work with Mental Health Services at HopeWood Park Hospital. I wanted to contribute to supporting asylum seekers and share my knowledge so volunteer with FODI. I became a trustee in 2022. 

Talha Mahmood

Talha became a trustee in November 2023. He grew up in Pakistan but has been living in the UK for a decade. He studied engineering at City University London.

He has been part of the immigration system for a long time. “I have learned many things and want to share my knowledge and experience with newcomers. I am very proud to be a member of a great team.”

Melika Azandeh

Melika Azhandeh has lived in Sunderland since April, 2023. She volunteers with FODI to help with translation and ESOL classes.


The work that FODI does is beyond amazing within the limited resources they have. The wraparound care service they provide to clients is thoughtful, well intentioned  and clearly appreciated by service users.

Supporting partner

FODI would like to thank all of our funders, without them we would not be able to carry out our work. We are very grateful to our core services funders – the National Lottery Community Fund, Tudor Trust, Leathersellers’ Foundation and Sir James Knott Trust. In addition, the NHS Sunderland ICB who fund our gym and swim project and various activities and outings we run for our members, The Temple Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear who fund our Bike project and Sunderland City Council who fund our hardship programme and SCC for funding the new Links for Life projects .

Please contact us if you too would like to make a huge difference to the asylum-seeking and refugee community of Sunderland.