New Trustees for BEARR

The Trust is delighted to welcome four new Trustees, who will bring additional experience and enhanced skills to the Board.

Charles Garrett

Charles Garrett left the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in 2023 after 36 years working largely on East Asian, East European and EU affairs.  Most recently he served as HM Ambassador to North Macedonia (2014-18) and to Kyrgyzstan (2019-22).  His diplomatic postings before that include Cyprus, Hong Kong (where he worked on the transfer of sovereignty to China), Switzerland and Taiwan.  His work in the FCO in London included leading the Eastern European and Balkan programmes of the UK’s Know How Fund, and coordinating the Central & Eastern European programme in the Conflict Prevention Fund.  

He also worked outside the FCO on secondment as Head of International Relations at the Organising Committee of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games (2010-12), and as Head of Commonwealth Relations at the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (2012-13).    

He was appointed in late 2023 as Director for Strategy and Commonwealth Relations at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Charles was born in Helsinki in 1963 and spent much of his childhood living in Moscow.  That experience sparked a life-long interest in Russia and the region.  He read Russian Studies at the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, as part of which he studied at Moscow’s Pushkin Institute in 1982-83.  In 2018-19 he continued his study of Russian in Kyiv as preparation for his posting to Kyrgyzstan.  He is a fluent Russian speaker and has a keen interest in Russian and regional history, literature and music.  He has been closely involved in the development of Downside Up, a charity co-founded by his wife in 1996 to support people with Down’s syndrome in Russia.  

Helen Goodman

Helen Goodman spends most of her time in County Durham, where she used to be an MP. She is Professor in Practice in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University and on the board of their Inenergy Institute. As well as taking on this role at BEARR she is a trustee of two anti-poverty charities in the UK : Z2K and Church Action on Poverty where she is Chair. Last year she hosted a family from Kyiv (Mum and two children) under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and from this learnt a great deal about Ukrainian culture and society. 

As a Member of Parliament, Helen was a foreign affairs spokesman and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Human Rights and for Ukraine. Following a trip to Azerbaijan for a UN conference on free expression, she secured the release from prison of two political prisoners. She also visited Ukraine during the Orange revolution and was the first person to speak in Parliament about the problem of oligarchs’ funding flows to the UK. She later ensured the insertion of “Magnitsky” sanctions into law.

She previously worked in the children’s voluntary sector and visited Romania to see the fledgling growth of their children’s charities.  Before that she was a Treasury civil servant working, among other things, on international energy markets, EU and OECD trade negotiations. During this time she was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Office in Prague in 1990-91 just after the Velvet Revolution to advise on their transition to a market economy. She has also travelled for holidays to Russia, Germany and Poland.

Helen believes BEARR’s mission of fostering and developing the voluntary sector in the FSU and Eastern Europe is an important way to build their social resilience and civil society.

Sam Thorne

Sam Thorne has worked in higher education since 2007 and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He was at The Open University for 15 years, where he led a number of strategic change and quality improvement programmes, as well as completing a Master’s in Online and Distance Education. He now works as a consultant, advising various universities in the UK and EU on topics such as student support, learning technologies and organisational development.

Alongside HE consultancy work, Sam is working towards a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, exploring journalism and opposition activism under an authoritarian regime. He has also been doing Ukrainian lessons for the past year.

Sam has a long-standing interest in the BEARR region, having first visited Kharkiv on a school exchange in 1992 and later studying Russian and French at the University of Oxford as an undergraduate. After university, Sam worked in Russia as a teacher and journalist, including eighteen months at The Moscow Times in the early 2000s. 

More recently, Sam spent a month as a volunteer for the Kharkiv and Przemyśl Project (KHARPP) charity, assisting Ukrainian refugees at the train station in Przemyśl, Poland, near the Ukrainian border. This experience showed the power of small, local organisations to make a big difference on the ground, particularly when working collaboratively – and The BEARR Trust’s approach to supporting partner CSOs in the region very much resonates with him because of that.

Sabrina Vashisht

Sabrina joins the BEARR Board after 6 years as a Trustee for Unfold – Empowerment through Mentoring, a London-based charity that draws on a diverse group of volunteer mentors to empower young people and women to identify and attain their personal goals, often overcoming social welfare issues in the process. She hopes to apply what she has learnt through years of mentoring and governance to BEARR’s mission. 

Sabrina has spent much of her education and career focused on BEARR’s focus region, particularly Ukraine, Russia and Moldova, starting out as a volunteer translator for BEARR back in 2013. After completing her degree in French and Russian language and literature, Sabrina went on to study Politics, Security and Integration at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (UCL), which led her to the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, where she spent five years as their PR and Development Officer. Through this role, she gained a thorough understanding of prevalent human rights issues in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, including navigating the challenges that NGOs themselves face. After two years at Anti-Slavery International, Sabrina joined Street Child, launching and leading their Ukraine Crisis Response Programme in February 2022, and developing partnerships and projects with local, regional and nationwide children’s organisations. She joined the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change in January 2023 as Development Manager, where she leads new funding proposals and donor engagement.

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