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February 12, 2024

LRMN’s CEO standing down after over a decade

After guiding us for nearly 14 years, Rosario Guimba-Stewart is standing down as CEO.

In Rosario’s time here, we have grown from 3 paid staff to over 25, from an annual income of £200k to now over a million, and our services have expanded to meet the increasing needs of sanctuary seeking communities in London.

At LRMN, we support over 1,500 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers every year with vital advice, support, and community engagement. Last year, over 1,600 people came to LRMN for advice, we gave out over 1,700 food parcels, and provided over 1,000 people with immigration and housing support. This means that people who come through our doors are able to find immediate and longer term support, able to put together a warm meal for their families, improve their mental health and wellbeing, and build the foundations for a secure future. 

During her time as CEO, Rosario has led a team of staff and volunteers that has weathered an increasingly hostile environment, the challenges of a global pandemic, and ongoing economic and political instability. Through these challenges, she has ensured that we remain a space that is safe, supportive, and accessible for all sanctuary seeking people.

A member of the community recently described the organisation as a “fortress for vulnerable people”, while another said: “When I came in [to LRMN], the first words I heard made me feel alive again: ‘We are going to help you.’’” 

Over the last 14 years, we have become an advocate for those rebuilding their lives, and have been a key institution in South East London, pushing to undo the barriers that migrant, refugee and asylum seeking communities face in accessing services.

One of our recent key achievements includes giving out over £38,000 in emergency funds during 2020/21, which allowed those in the most precarious situations to afford food and essentials during the most challenging times of the pandemic. We also supported Lewisham Council to become the first ever awarded Borough of Sanctuary, embedding policies and practices that encourage safety and a welcoming community for all. 

“I am absolutely honoured to have worked for LRMN for nearly 14 years,” Rosario said. “I have had the pleasure of working alongside fantastic staff, trustees, volunteers and partners in order to ensure that sanctuary seekers are truly able to thrive. I cannot overemphasise the resilience, commitment and support that our team and our community has shown in the years I have been here. I am extremely proud of the organisation we have built together and I am confident that LRMN will continue to be a leader in supporting sanctuary seekers across London, and that the organisation will continue to fulfil its strategic aims.” 

Dr Claire Morris, Chair of the Board of Trustees at LRMN, said: “Rosario has served LRMN commendably for 14 years, and in the last five years overseen a significant growth of its team of staff and volunteers, services and income. She has navigated the ups and downs of last years – including the challenges of Covid-19 lockdown and its consequent impact on service delivery – with charisma, passion, resilience, and an exemplary work ethic. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I’d like to express our gratitude to Rosario for her leadership and wish her every success in her new role.”

Rosario has ensured that collaboration is key to our work. LRMN’s work with Southwark Law Centre (SLC) has provided crucial support for homeless sanctuary seekers, as Sally Causer, Executive Director of Southwark Law Centre, said: “Rosario has the respect of funders, and stakeholders and was a dedicated champion for LRMN and the rights of refugees and migrants. SLC worked with Rosario to set up a successful partnership funded by London Councils which has helped many homeless migrants. We are sad that she is leaving LRMN but sure that her legacy will have a lasting impact.”

Sam Hawkesly, CEO at Lewisham Local, a Lewisham based charity and valuable partner, celebrated Rosario’s impactful work, saying: “Congratulations to Rosario and the Trustee team on all you have achieved. LRMN has continued to grow and is such a well-respected and impactful local charity that makes a real difference for people in need. Rosario has been a great partner to work with, she has been engaged and committed to Lewisham and local people’s needs and will be much missed!”

Stepping into her shoes as Interim CEO is the current Head of Operations, Alan Robertson, who joined LRMN in 2020. Working alongside Rosario, Alan has been key to defining strategic plans for the coming years, and has been pivotal in supporting our expansion during and after the covid-19 pandemic. 

Rosario will be joining the London Catalyst, a grants giving foundation, as their Executive Director. 

We are now looking for a personable and proactive CEO to help the charity to continue Rosario’s legacy of championing sanctuary seekers across London, from our home in Deptford.