Synergi Governance Board
The Synergi Governance Board is comprised of members who all have lived experience of the issues Synergi is trying to address – they are from a racialised community, with lived experience of mental ill-health, distress, trauma and/or racial trauma.
The role of the Synergi Governance Board is to uphold Synergi’s strategy and vision, to advise NSUN’s Board of Trustees and to support the staff team in developing a radical and robust framework for good governance. This will ensure we meet legal requirements and fiscal responsibility, whilst also keeping us within the project brief of centring abolitionist practice, with focus on benefitting movement spaces.
The Governance Board currently comprises of 5 members and you can find out more about each of them below.
Baljeet Sandhu is a UK human rights lawyer, educator and pioneer of the global ‘knowledge equity’ movement. She has designed and developed successful systems-led models of practice in the UK legal, social and investment sectors and is a global thought leader on the value and power of lived experience in social impact work.
As a Yale World Fellow, Baljeet supported the development of the Tsai Centre for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY), in 2017 to serve Yale students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines seeking innovative ways to solve real-world problems. In 2018, she launched the Knowledge Equity Initiative at Yale University, a ground-breaking research, education and practice hub exploring the value of both lived and learned experience in systems change, innovation and entrepreneurship. The initiative supported student entrepreneurs and innovators and established cross-disciplinary knowledge exchanges and learning ecosystems to connect local, national and global change-making strategies to understand the value of lived experience in systems practice. Her work also included the design of the Neighbors in Residence Fellowship at Yale, as well as the critical innovation fund.
Baljeet was awarded UK Young Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year in 2011. She is a UK Clore Social Leadership fellow and a fellow of the Vital Voices Female Global Leaders Partnership. In recognition of her work, she was honoured with the DVF International Award during the Women in the World Conference at the United Nations in April 2017.
Marcia Willis Stewart
Marcia Willis Stewart is a Managing Partner at Birnberg Peirce Solicitors. She is a well respected practitioner who has spent her career fighting to uphold the civil liberties of individuals and families in actions against the police and state, inquests, extraditions, etc. Amongst those she has represented are the families of Jean Charles de Menezes, Mark Duggan, 77 of the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster, the bereaved, survivors and former residents of the Grenfell Tower Fire and more recently Dawn Sturgess.
On the current legal landscape, it’s not hard to identify that minority groups are disproportionately affected regarding access to justice. Marcia fights passionately and her desire to achieve justice for the disadvantaged has long outstripped financial reward or public recognition. Her commitment to diversity extends beyond representation.
She is renowned for giving lawyers from all walks of life a chance to prove themselves often bucking the trend favouring those from Russell Group or Oxbridge universities. In terms of gender and racial diversity, the array of 30+ lawyers she instructed on Hillsborough was a testament to her commitment.
Marcia Willis Stewart doesn’t just talk diversity, she exemplifies it.
Asif Afridi is Deputy CEO at brap, a UK-based equality and human rights charity. Asif is trustee for Lankelly Chase Foundation and Baring Foundation. He was previously Chair of Equally Ours (a national network of equality and human rights charities) and Panel Member on the Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in England. Asif has worked within civil society in England for twenty years. He has a PhD in public policy and has published widely on this topic, with a particular focus on responses to poverty and inequality.
Shuranjeet’s (he/him) work sits at the intersections between academic research, mental health advocacy, and community organising. Following his experiences of mental health challenges he founded Taraki, an organisation working with Punjabi communities to reshape approaches to mental health. Shuranjeet is interested in the politics of mental health research, conceptions of evidence and how we include/exclude certain voices from these processes. Every day Shuranjeet is reminded of how little he knows, but how he feels more confident and excited by working alongside others to learn. He is hugely excited by Synergi’s work and potential, and looks forward to seeing how he can support shaping a more equitable and responsive world with them.
Sandra cofounded Catalyst 4 Change, a CIC that supports community organisations, social enterprises, faith groups or businesses that have a significant African and Caribbean mental health / wellbeing service user base.
Catalyst 4 Change has a powerful mission to strengthen the capacity of voluntary, grassroots and user led organisations to ensure the right care, at the right time and in the right place. They speak to the failure to synthesize evidence drawn from lived experience, good practice and practical expertise with theory and evidence from the research literature.
Sandra holds lead responsibility for the development of Catalyst 4 Change’s strategic partnerships and business opportunities. She is also our key representative in the areas of national collaboration and intelligence, research and evaluation, policy development and community training initiatives.
She has over 40 years experience of delivering local, regional and national innovative programmes. She has worked as a consultant in partnership with The NHS, mental health charities and a wide variety of third sector organisations and stakeholders to review and develop strategies and policies, undertake research and design and deliver training and engagement programmes to enhance their capacity to achieve their goals and improve health outcomes.
In 2010 Sandra founded Red Earth Collective a public health consultancy which facilitates social change and promotes dialogue to improve the mental wellbeing of marginalised and racialised communities in the UK utilising creative and visual arts, debates and community engagement.