The Freelance Assistance Programme is at the heart of our work, providing direct financial and practical support to freelance journalists and their families globally.
We work with a wide network of international and local partners. These partnerships enable us to reach freelancers in countries where it is difficult to operate and to provide additional support where needed. The Programme supports freelancers in four main ways:
Lord Black of Brentwood (Patron)
Deputy Chairman, Telegraph Media Group
“I am hugely impressed by the vital work of the Rory Peck Trust… it deserves to be widely supported across the publishing industry.”
Lord Black is Deputy Chairman at the Telegraph Media Group, Chairman of the Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) Media Trust, and an Executive Committee Member of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA).
He is a passionate defender of press freedom and free speech in the UK and across the Commonwealth. From 1996 – 2003 he was Director of the Press Complaints Commission, and from 2003-2005 he was Director of Communications for the Conservative Party.
He is an active Member of the House of Lords and speaks regularly on matters such as freedom of speech; animal welfare; gay equality and music education. He is also a Churchwarden of St Bride’s Church and a Trustee of the Imperial War Museum.
Sarah Ward-Lilley (Chair)
Managing Editor, BBC News
“Being a Trustee is my way of trying to use my experience at the BBC to help the wider freelance community.”
Sarah has had a long-term involvement with the Rory Peck Trust, having produced The Rory Peck Awards for 5 years and serving as a member of the Board since 2004. She joined BBC News in 1989 as a producer in the TV Newsroom and after working as a field producer for many years, she became Managing Editor and later Deputy Head of BBC Newsgathering. In both those roles, Sarah had a special responsibility for safety, training and welfare. She currently manages all the BBC’s international news bureaux. Sarah is Vice President of the EBU News Committee and an advisor to the Dart Centre (Europe) for Journalism and Trauma.
“I’ve spent much of the last 10 years working to support BBC teams who cover dangerous and difficult stories around the world. These teams are often a mix of BBC staff and freelancers. We ensure that our freelancers have access to training, insurance and contracts, so that they are protected and safe and it’s this awareness of the specific issues and concerns that all freelancers face which has made me so committed to the work of the Trust. Being a Trustee is my way of trying to use my experience at the BBC to help the wider freelance community.”
Freelance Journalist and Filmmaker
“Quite simply the Trust watches our back, and without them the work of freelancers worldwide would be harder and more insecure.”
James Brabazon is an award-winning frontline journalist and documentary filmmaker. Based in London he has travelled in over 70 countries, investigating, filming and directing in the world’s most hostile environments. His awards include the Rory Peck Sony International Impact Award 2003, the Rory Peck Freelancer’s Choice Award 2003, the IDA Courage Under Fire Award 2004 and the IDFA Joris Ivens Competition Special Jury Award 2004.
James has also been nominated for two BAFTAs and two Emmys. He has made over forty international current affairs films broadcast by the BBC, Channel 4, CNN, SABC and the Discovery Channel. James lectures on the ethics and practicalities of journalism in war zones and has written for the Observer, the Independent and the Guardian. His international bestseller book, My Friend the Mercenary, was published by Canongate in June 2010 a memoir recounting his experiences of the Liberian civil war and the Equatorial Guinea coup plot. James joined the Board of The Rory Peck Trust in 2010.
“The Rory Peck Trust is a unique lifeline of help, care and support for freelancers who work under the most difficult conditions, reporting the hardest stories, facing the greatest risks. Quite simply the Trust watches our back, and without them the work of freelancers worldwide would be harder and more insecure. Being connected to the Rory Peck Trust is to be connected to the global community of freelancers – helping to keep our work as productive, and sustainable, and as safe as possible.”
Director of Strategic Relations for News & Publishers, Google
“The Trust supports a part of the news ecosystem that often gets overlooked – freelancers.”
Madhav Chinnappa is the Director of Strategic Relations for News & Publishers, working on partnerships and collaboration between Google and the news industry. In 2015, he launched the Digital News Initiative, which is Google’s overarching framework for engagement with the European news ecosystem. He joined Google in 2010 to focus on Google News & Magazines in the EMEA regions. He has worked in the news industry since 1994 – first in the launch team of Associated Press Television (APTV), a year in M&A at United News & Media and spent over 9 years at BBC News, latterly as Head of Development & Rights.
“I have known, and been impressed and humbled by the work the Rory Peck Trust has done from the early days of my career at APTV. The Trust supports a part of the news ecosystem that often gets overlooked – freelancers – and yet it is these self same freelancers who play an invaluable role in the news that we all consume. I am honoured to be on the board of the Trust.”
Bureau Chief, CBS News London
“As the only charity for freelancers, the Trust is a beacon of hope for all those who cover the news without the backing of a large organisation.”
Andy first became involved with the Rory Peck Trust in 2006 when staff cameraman Paul Douglas and freelance soundman James Brolan were tragically killed by a terrorist bomb in Baghdad. “I was so impressed with the way the Trust helped CBS News support the Brolan family that I knew it was an organisation I wanted to support.” Since the untimely death of his colleagues Andy, and CBS News London have organised a number of charitable events to raise money for the Trust.
Andy became London Bureau Chief in 2011 after serving 5 years as the Deputy Bureau Chief. Before that, Andy spent two decades covering stories around the globe as a producer for CBS News, more often than not in hostile environments. He was based in Tokyo and reported from the Far East for five years. Andy is the recipient of two national Emmy awards and an Overseas Press Club of America award for his coverage of the Kashmir Earthquake in 2005.
Ben de Pear
Editor, Channel 4 News
“Freelancers cover the stories we can’t or don’t – but often should.”
Ben became Editor of Channel 4 News in August 2012. Before that, he was Head of Foreign News at Channel 4 News, following a decade mostly in hostile environments as a foreign producer for ITN and Sky News. Ben was based in Johannesburg for Sky from 2000-2005 and worked all over Africa, as well as across the Middle East, Asia and Europe. In 1999 he produced Sky’s RTS Award winning coverage of Kosovo, and was their Producer in Baghdad for the US led invasion in 2003. In 2004 he obtained the only British TV interview with President Robert Mugabe this century. At Channel 4 News he has helped win over a dozen RTS awards, a BAFTA and 4 Amnesty International Awards for television. Ben has been on the Board of the Rory Peck Trust since 2009.
“The Trust is a vital organization to help those who want to find out the truth, but who don’t have the protection and support of a big organization. Freelancers cover the stories we can’t or don’t – but often should. The Rory Peck Trust supports them and there is no other organization out there doing this work.”
Andrea Diez de Sollano
Director of Philanthropy, UWC Atlantic College
“As an RPT Trustee, I hope to help broaden its global network of supporters, so it becomes a long-lasting initiative for future generations of freelancers.”
“I am a firm believer in the freedom of information and having worked in the international arena for more than thirteen years has made me value the importance of reliable information and supporting those who go out to seek it.”
Andrea joins us with thirteen years of experience in Philanthropy and International Relations. She is a senior member of the Kew Foundation, the second fastest growing charity in the UK. She is now responsible for broadening RBG, Kew’s global high-net worth relationships, developing and implementing the fundraising strategy for Europe and Latin America, with a special focus in Mexico and Brazil.
Andrea’s past experience includes working for the British Mexican Society, the Mexican Embassy in London and the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry. She is an International Relations postgraduate from the London School of Economics, and speaks fluent Spanish, French and English.
Freelance photographer, writer and story-teller
“Giles joined the Board of Trustees in early 2017.”
“Photography is a particularly solitary profession and as freelancers we are used to working alone. When you are injured doing that work, it can be even more isolating. That’s where RPT steps in, and I know from personal experience, it’s not just the financial support: it’s the chats on the phone, the follow-ups to make sure you are OK. When I needed support RPT reminded me I was not alone.”
Giles Duley, Hon FRPS, worked as a successful fashion and music photographer for ten years. However, having become disillusioned with celebrity culture, he then abandoned photography and left London to work as a full-time carer. In this role he rediscovered his craft and its power to tell the stories of those without a voice. He returned to photography in 2000, personally funding trips to document the work of NGOs and the stories of those affected by conflict across the world. In 2011, Giles lost both legs and his left arm after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan whilst photographing those caught up in the conflict. He was told he would never walk again and that his career was over. Characteristically stubborn, Giles told his doctors “I’m still a photographer”, and returned to work less than 18 months later.
Giles went back to Afghanistan in 2012 to complete his original assignment. His return was the feature of the award-winning Channel 4 documentary, Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline. Numerous papers and magazines have since featured his work, and he has talked about his experiences on television, radio and at several international and national events. In 2013 Giles won the May Chidiac Award for Bravery in Journalism and the AIB Founders Award for Outstanding Achievement, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. He is also a trustee of the Italian NGO Emergency and ambassador for Sir Bobby Charlton’s landmine charity Find A Better Way.
Head of Media Relations, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
“As a Trustee I hope that I can bring my broad experience to help amplify the voices of those the Rory Peck Trust has helped.”
“I’ve had an interest in the Trust’s work since my early days working in the BBC News press office, where I used to publicise the Firing Line programme featuring the annual finalists of the Rory Peck Awards. I watched admiringly as freelancers were seen taking risks to tell important stories in some of the hardest places to work on earth, and it made me appreciate how much they need to have somewhere with their interests at heart when things don’t go well. As a Trustee I hope that I can bring my broad experience to help amplify the voices of those the Rory Peck Trust has helped”.
Ciara joined the Board as a Trustee in January 2015. She brings with her over 14 years of experience in international communications. She currently works as the Head of Media Relations for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew where she is tasked with raising awareness of the value of plants and botanical science globally.
She was previously the Media Manager at the development charity VSO and a Communications Consultant for The World Bank, in Washington DC. After working as Acting Head of PR at BBC World Television for a time she also spend the period between 2003-2007 working as a freelance journalist based in Brazil. She currently sits on the board of the Irish VIVA Aid charity, which supports veterinary aid and training in developing countries.
Commissioning Editor for News and Current Affairs, Channel 4
“As a film-maker I know how quickly situations or just downright luck can change.”
Before joining Channel 4, Siobhan spent 4 years at the award-winning Quicksilver Productions in Oxford. Two of those were as Series Editor on Unreported World and as an Executive producer on Dispatches and First Cut. Previously Siobhan worked at ITV/Granada making a wide range of documentaries and current affairs programmes. In 2012, Siobhan took a secondment from Channel 4 to make ‘Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline’ a documentary about British freelance photographer Giles Duley who lost 3 limbs when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan. She believes that Giles’ experience demonstrates how, more than ever, the community of journalists and film-makers need to look after freelancers reporting from difficult places. Siobhan became a Board member in 2010.
“I am a passionate believer in the Trust’s core functions: emergency assistance for, and safety training of freelancers. As a film-maker I know how quickly situations or just downright luck can change. When I’ve been in dangerous places I’ve nearly always been on assignment, and had someone at the end of a phone to step in when things go wrong, I’ve had insurance, medical evacuation cover, and all the things that make a terrible situation more bearable. But so many freelance newsgatherers don’t have that person at the end of phone. It’s left to their families or friends to try to work out what to do. As a commissioning editor I believe passionately in the importance of training, particularly first aid training for people going into hostile environments.”
Independent Reporter and Producer
“Through my own work I have experienced first hand the importance of freelancers across the world.”
“In my 25 years covering international TV News and Current Affairs I have worked many times with freelance camera people and journalists in some of the toughest parts of the world. Twelve years ago I moved to London and started freelancing myself, working for Channel 4 and others, and setting up my own production company.
Through the courts of all this work I have experienced first hand the importance of freelance work and the needs of freelancers across the world. Through this I have learnt the extraordinary and unique role the Rory Peck Trust plays in helping the vital work of freelancers, many of whom are in dangerous and vulnerable situations due to their commitment to telling the truth.”
Evan Williams has been a print, radio and television journalist for more than 20 years, most recently specialising in TV current affairs programmes and documentaries on a wide variety of international investigations.
He currently works as an independent reporter and producer. His work has featured on a number of major news programmes, including Channel 4’s Unreported World and PBS, and he has reported from many of the world’s most dangerous environments (Egypt, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Burma). He previously worked as one of two Senior Staff Reporters with the Australian ABC’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’ programme, and between 1992-1997 was Australian ABC’s Southeast Asia correspondent.
Evan has been a finalist for several Australian Walkley Awards, won commendations for TV interviewing and won several New York Festival TV Awards.
Alex Crawford, OBE
Special Correspondent, Sky News
“The Trust does tremendous work highlighting the role of freelancers, and helping them when it’s difficult to get media organisations to take responsibility.”
Alex is based in South Africa. She reports across the continent and is deployed to big stories around the world. Formerly based in Sky’s Dubai bureau, Alex has reported on the Gulf and the Middle East, most recently covering the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya. Her work has been recognised by the Foreign Press Association in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. She has been cited in the Bayeux War Correspondents Awards for her reports from hostile environments every year since 2007. She is a four-times winner of the Royal Television Society Journalist of the Year Award. Alex is married and has four children.
“Wherever I have reported, from places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the Middle East and the ‘Arab Spring world’, I have been indebted to the army of freelancers and casual workers who have toiled alongside me in the most difficult and challenging of situations. They’ve helped me, engineered access for me, organised interviews with the people who count, got me out of the brown stuff, been fantastically brave and been an incredible inspiration all round. Somehow they have tolerated me and educated me to boot – usually for very little financial gain and at tremendous potential cost to their lives, families and well-being. I look at some of the journalism produced by Rory Peck members and others presented at the RP awards which I watch every year and I leave feeling knocked-out by the bravery, the tenacity, the determination and the sheer skill and talent of some of these individuals and teams.”
Presenter and Chief International Correspondent, BBC
“…an organisation that, in a big way, tells freelance journalists you are not on your own. None of us should forget what it’s like to be a freelancer.”
Lyse has been reporting for the BBC for nearly 30 years, with posts in Abidjan, Kabul, Islamabad, Tehran, Amman and Jerusalem. In 1999 she joined the BBC’s team of presenters but most of her time is spent going back to regions where she lived, and also discovering new ones. Lyse often presents from the field for BBC World News, and the BBC World Service’s flagship Newshour programme, as well as the News Channel. She works as a correspondent, reporting across the BBC’s global and domestic TV and radio outlets. She also writes for BBC online and posts – judiciously! – on Twitter and Facebook. Lyse feels at home in many places but is still Canadian. She was educated in Canada, at Queen’s University, and the University of Toronto, and has been awarded several honorary doctorates as well as major journalism awards.
“Who could ever forget Rory Peck? And who can forget what it’s like to be a freelancer? I first met Rory when I moved to Pakistan in 1988 to work as a freelancer for the BBC, and others. Rory’s curiosity and courage to pursue the compelling stories of the Afghan war drew many to him. Many journalists share his drive and determination to tell the stories of our time that must be told. Many are freelancers who work with constant risk and uncertainty. They need our support – when they are in the field in pursuit of stories that matter, and when they are in difficulty or danger. That’s why I support the Rory Peck Trust. It’s a small way to pay tribute to a colleague and friend whose determination to be where it mattered cost him dearly. And it links me to an organisation that, in a big way, tells freelance journalists you are not on your own. None of us should forget what it’s like to be a freelancer.”
Presenter and Chief International Correspondent, BBC
“Nowadays, freelancers are under more pressure than ever. I have always admired how the Trust provides support to them, and celebrates their work with the awards.”
Lindsey Hilsum was based in Kenya as a freelance at one time and has been a supporter of the Rory Peck Trust for many years. She has covered the major wars and refugee movements of the past three decades, including Syria, Ukraine, and Afghanistan. She has also reported extensively on the Arab Spring in Egypt and Libya, from Iran and Zimbabwe, and was Channel 4 News China Correspondent from 2006 to 2008. She is the author of Sandstorm; Libya in the Time of Revolution and has been Royal Television Society Journalist of the Year. She has also won the Charles Wheeler Award, the James Cameron Award and recognition from the One World Media and Amnesty International. Before becoming a journalist, she was an aid worker, first in Latin America and then in Africa. She is currently writing a biography of the war correspondent Marie Colvin.
“I used to be a freelance so I know what it’s like to screw your courage to the sticking place and ring up an editor – and then do it again when you’re turned down. Nowadays, freelancers are under more pressure than ever, both financially and in terms of safety. I have always admired how Rory Peck Trust provides practical support to freelances, and celebrates them with the annual awards.”
Barrister, Matrix Chambers
“Without it independent free journalism would be significantly poorer. I am proud to be an Associate of the Trust.”
Raj is also a solicitor advocate, mediator, arbitrator and a Crown Court Recorder, a Director and Trustee of the RCJ Advice Bureau and International Justice Mission (UK). Raj was a Trustee of The Rory Peck Trust from 2002 – 2011. As a result of his ongoing commitment, the Trust continues to benefit from pro-bono legal support when necessary.
“I am pleased to have been involved with the Trust for more than 20 years. My connection dates back to Rory Peck himself who was the elder brother of my best man Colin. As a commercial lawyer who specialises in contentious work and crisis management for large corporations in many industry sectors, I know how difficult some parts of the world are and how unpredictable they can be. The Rory Peck Trust does extraordinary work to support freelance newsgatherers and their families. Without it independent free journalism would be significantly poorer. I am proud to be an Associate of the Trust.”
Director Corporate Functions, Badenoch & Clark
“Now more than ever, I understand the importance of the Trust’s work as the environment for freelance journalists becomes more and more dangerous.”
James is a head hunter in Geneva, Switzerland where he has lived since 2004. As the eldest son of Rory, he has been attending the Rory Peck Awards since the beginning in 1995 and has seen the Trust grow and change with the times. He is proud to be representing the Peck family and maintaining the strong links that have been formed since his stepmother Juliet started the charity. James is looking forward to doing whatever is needed to raise awareness of the Trust and promote its work.
Europe Editor, ITV News
“…I am hugely proud to support the work it does – work that no other charity is doing – and believe it must only get stronger as the demand, sadly, increases.”
James Mates began his career as an editorial trainee ITN, and has held various roles, including diplomatic editor and Washington and Moscow Correspondent. James’s assignments have covered the refugee crisis in Yugoslavia, the NATO invasion of Kosovo, Yeltsin’s attempt to put down the uprising in Chechnya and the Arab Spring uprisings and Rwanda, where he reported on the Central African Republic’s genocidal civil war. As the only television journalist left in the capital Kigali in 1994, James watched the city fall to the rebel army of the Rwandan Patriotic Front. In 2001 James played a key role in ITV news coverage of the September 11 attacks, reporting from New York and Washington. Together with his ITN/C4 News colleague Alex Thomson, James has been instrumental helping to generate significant funding support from the media for the Trust’s work.
“I got to know Rory and Juliet Peck well when we all lived in Moscow in the early ’90’s. Our children are the same age and used to romp together for hours on the floor of the wonderful Peck ‘dacha’ on the outskirts of the city. I’ve been involved with the RPT for some years now, and I am hugely proud to support the work it does – work that no other charity is doing – and believe it must only get stronger as the demand, sadly, increases. The RPT continues to be a magnificent tribute to two very special people.”
Senior Vice President, Worldwide Newsgathering, NBC News
“We, at NBC News, are proud and honoured to support the Trust, these journalists and their families around the world.”
David Verdi joined NBC News in 1990 as a producer on “Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.” He served as Assistant News Director from 1992 to 1993, and Executive News Director from 1993 to 2005. David has 33 years of experience and is the recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for the 2011 Best Video Newscast, “Iraq, The Long Way Out”, NBC News live coverage of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. David has championed the Trust for many years, and his support led to NBC becoming the first broadcaster to make a long-term financial commitment to support the Trust.
“A free press, exposing injustice, brutality and private and governmental corruption, is essential in protecting the rights of individuals and societies around the world. Freelance journalists, at their own peril, are often at the forefront of this reporting. The Rory Peck Trust’s support of these freelancers and their families is vital to enabling this type of journalism. Without such support, truth and justice would be the casualties. When NBC News lost our freelance soundman outside of Fallujah Iraq in 2003, the Rory Peck Trust provided financial and emotional support to his family. We, at NBC News, are proud and honoured to support the Trust, these journalists and their families around the world.”
Managing Director, ENEX
“…who is there to help them when things go wrong? For nearly 20 years the answer to that question has been the Rory Peck Trust.”
Before joining ENEX, Adrian spent his career working for both BBC and Sky News. Previously he was Launch Director of Sky News Arabia, Head of Foreign News at Sky and has held various positions at BBC News, including World Assignments Editor and Middle East Bureau Chief. Adrian joined the Board of RPT Trustees in 2004 and was Chairman of the Trust from 2009 – 2011. During this time he encouraged the Trust to re-engage with its core community of supporters, both freelance and media and stepped up efforts for new sources of funding.
“Anyone working in international news knows that a good local fixer, driver, cameraman or journalist is the key to getting a good piece of journalism on the air or published. Freelancers, whether locally based or intrepid newsgatherers from abroad, are very often the first to a story. They break news without the support structures of big broadcasters, safety officers and 24 hour news desks to help them. But who is there to help them when things go wrong? For nearly 20 years the answer to that question has been the Rory Peck Trust. I’ve worked with the Trust for much of my professional life and am proud of the work they do. Often the most valuable contributions are behind the scenes and away from the headlines or awards ceremony. It’s vital that everyone in the industry continues to support the RPT.”
Freelance Producer and Writer
“Rory’s bravery and ability to be in the right places was more than matched by his charm and generosity of spirit.”
Tira first met Rory Peck in Bucharest during the Romanian Revolution in 1989.
Tira has worked as a news and documentary producer for British, Canadian and American television networks, and for Frontline News Television, covering stories in over 50 countries: the Iran-Iraq War, Nicaragua and the Contra War, the Soviet Coup of ’91, Iran War 1991, the Balkans, Yemen, Jordan, post-2003 Kurdistan, Somalia. Recently, Tira has worked extensively in East Africa. She co-authored the book “Lifting the Veil: Life in Revolutionary Iran” and has written for the UK and US press. Tira also wrote and produced a BBC comedy series about journalists,”Taking the Flak”. Tira has been on the Board of The Rory Peck Trust since 2000.
“Within a few hours of first meeting Rory, we were caught in several street battles, had commandeered the car of a fleeing Securitate officer after we fed our video to London, and then watched the National Library burn to the ground. By the end of that memorable week, Rory seemed to know everyone in Bucharest and all doors opened for him. Rory’s bravery and ability to be in the right places was more than matched by his charm and generosity of spirit. His career ended in Moscow in 2003, leaving a large Rory-shaped hole in our lives.”
Senior Communications, Marketing and Events Manager
Originally from Canada, Leanne joined the Rory Peck Team after nine and a half years at One World Media, where she served as Deputy Director, leading on events and communications and working closely with the Director on fundraising, financial management and strategy. In her spare time, she is also Co-Director and Curator of the Gustav Metzger Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to stimulating social change through art. She has worked in the charity, arts and public sectors in the UK and abroad, including at the Canadian Space Agency, Camden Arts Centre and International Institute for Environment and Development. She has a BA in Anthropology with a specialisation in Journalism and Professional Writing from the University of Victoria, and an MA in Art History with a focus on globalisation from UCL in London.
Syracuse University Communications and Awards Intern
Olivia is a third year undergraduate student majoring in Human Development and Family Studies at Syracuse University in upstate New York. She is currently based at Syracuse’s satellite London campus while gaining international work experience at the Trust.
As Director of the Rory Peck Trust, Clothilde is responsible for raising the profile of the Trust in the UK and internationally, building relationships to bolster our programmes and widen our reach. She works closely with the Board of Trustees and Advisory Committee to ensure freelance journalists are supported to work safely and professionally and can call on us should they need assistance in a crisis. Clothilde started her career in France working for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. After a year in Sydney working for Marie Claire Magazine, she moved to London in 2005 and joined the Media Trust’s production team, making documentaries for the Together Channel – of which she is now a proud shareholder. She then spent four years at Channel 4 working in the Documentaries department. Prior to joining the Rory Peck Trust she was the Director of One World Media, a non-profit organisation supporting journalists and filmmakers to report from developing countries. She has been a member of the advisory board for the Department of Media at Brunel University and currently sits on the Board of the ACOS Alliance.
Digital Communications Officer
Lauren is new to the world of non-profit after working as a freelance multimedia journalist back home in Canada, as well as in London. She has been a reporter for rural newspapers and most recently a freelance associate producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Some of her written work has appeared in Canadian national publications The Globe and Mail and Broadview Magazine. In her spare time, she also works as a freelance television and event producer. Lauren has a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre with a minor in Creative Writing from York University and a Master’s of Journalism from Carleton University.
Training Fund Manager
Lisya manages all requests to our training fund and produces our safety surgeries around the world. Her recent work focuses on supporting journalists and media makers internationally, through providing funding, training and mentoring. She has worked with the Barbican Centre, Open City Documentary Festival and DocumentarIst Istanbul Documentary Days, among others, as a programmer and coordinator. She also currently manages One World Media’s new talent projects, including their Fellowships, International Reporting Workshops and the Global Short Docs Forum. She has experience in commercial video production, and her latest short films are touring festivals worldwide. She has an MA in Film Studies, and a background in Political Science.
Yauheniya Burshtyn is an established Belarusian freelancer working for local print and online media. She and her family have suffered at the hands of the government because of her work; in the past two years, she has been wrongfully charged twice by the police for covering public protests and for drawing attention to illegal building works. The RPT has provided her with a grant to help cover basic subsistence and medical costs incurred as a result of the repression of her work.
Matthew Caruana Galizia
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a high-profile freelance journalist who reported on political corruption in Malta, making her subject to intimidation and threats, libels and lawsuits. In October 2017, she was killed in a car bomb attack close to her home in Bidnija. At the time of her death, Caruana Galizia was the target of 42 civil defamation actions and five criminal defamation proceedings, which her family has inherited. As a result, RPT assisted Daphne’s son Matthew, who is also a freelance journalist and works for the foundation set up in his mother’s name. Grants went towards basic subsistence and laptops for Daphne’s sons to return to investigative work. They also contributed to court fees to help the family fight the defamation suits and impunity for Daphne’s murder.
Photo: Berge Arabian/Agos.com.tr
In Mozambique, state-run media’s influence remains strong. Journalists and media who upset the authorities are often exposed to threats and intimidation, with the result that self-censorship is widespread. Estacio Valoi is a Mozambican investigative journalist and photographer whose work focuses on environmental crime and corruption in Southern Africa. In December 2018, Valoi was ambushed and detained by government soldiers while on the job. They confiscated his cameras, laptop and mobile phones and violently interrogated and threatened him. A grant from the Trust not only helped him to acquire new equipment, but also helped cover the cost of security and psychological support. He is now working again.
Like many Egyptian journalists, Eman’s career began with the uprising in 2011. Reporting from various hostile environments, she was injured on numerous occasions. Although she managed these kinds of situations as best she could, she wanted to receive proper training on how to stay safe as a journalist. Yet with an income that barely covered her living costs in Egypt, the opportunities for her to do so were limited. A grant from the Trust covered the costs of Eman’s flight to Turin, Italy, allowing her to take part in a hostile environment training course organised by RISC.
Bellancile was a freelance journalist for the national radio of Burundi, RTNB, before being forced to flee after threats of imminent arrest by Burundian security officials. At the time she contacted the Trust, Bellancile was a refugee in Rwanda with five children under her care, no income and no support. She had been unable to locate her husband after fleeing Burundi, which left her completely alone. A grant from the Trust contributed towards Bellancile’s immediate living costs whilst she adjusted to her situation in Rwanda.
Sim Chi Yin
In 2015, Chi Yin’s camera was violently grabbed from her by an angry mob, tearing a ligament in her hand. Doctors advised that while she would regain use of her right thumb in time, there would be some permanent disability and the possibility of arthritis in years to come. Chi Yin was left unable to work as the costs of her rehabilitation mounted and she struggled to cover her basic living costs. The medical care, braces and physiotherapy alone cost her thousands of dollars. A grant from the Trust covered three months of Chi Yin’s physiotherapy costs.
Jovo Martinovic is a Montenegrin freelance investigative journalist with over 20 years of experience. He was detained in October 2015 and accused of participating in a drug trafficking ring that he was investigating along with arms smuggling to France. He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Despite the lack of evidence, Martinovic spent over 14 months in jail before he was conditionally freed after heavy international pressure on the government. His appeal is underway. Martinovic denies the charges, emphasising that the sole reason for contact with the traffickers was for the documentary that he was producing. He was unable to cover the legal fees independently, so the RPT helped him with two grants to cover these crippling costs.
As one of the only voices reporting on the Taliban insurgency in the Swat region, Zubair was discovered in 2008 by those opposing his work. In the following months he fled from place to place, never staying more than a few nights in one town. During that time he continued to receive threats to him and his family. As a result, Zubair limited his movements and lived with a self-imposed curfew. His lack of income subsequently affected his ability to protect himself. The Trust provided a grant to cover the costs of a security guard for six months, as well as bus transportation to a trauma centre for counselling for eight weeks.
In 2014, Reda published his interview with an ISIS fighter. The interview was not well received by the extremist group and Reda was forced to flee the country immediately – with help from an emergency grant from the Trust – seeking asylum in Germany. He began learning German, attending workshops in English and applying to university, using internet cafes to carry out the research and work required. A grant from the Trust contributed towards the cost of a laptop, allowing Reda to research potential training sessions and search for work opportunities.
In 2014, Khadija was formally arrested on spurious claims of “inciting a colleague to suicide” and placed in solitary confinement, before being additionally charged with embezzlement, tax evasion, abuse of power, and running an illegal business. If convicted, she could face up to 12 years in prison. Before her imprisonment, Khadija supported her elderly mother. Whilst a number of human rights and freedom of speech organizations covered the costs of Khadija’s legal team, a grant from the Trust contributed towards her mothers’ rent and well-being.
After covering the funerals of Afghan refugees who had lost their lives in the Syrian conflict, Mujtaba was arrested by military police, held for two days and his professional camera confiscated. Fearing that he might be detained a second time, he fled to Holland to claim asylum. A grant from the Trust contributed towards a replacement camera for Mujitaba, allowing him to publish his own photo-reportage and find work whilst in exile.
Baraa Al Halabi
After travelling to France to receive an international award for his photography, Baraa and his wife were harassed by local extremist factions who accused him of collaborating with the West. At the time he contacted the Trust, Baraa was confined to his house and warned that members of the group were looking for him. Not long after, his home in Aleppo was damaged by a Russian airstrike. The stress of being threatened by an extremist group and wanting to protect his pregnant wife, forced him to flee to Turkey, where a grant from the Trust covered his rent and living costs for the following months.
Indalecio is the founder of a community radio station based in the city of Luvianos, Mexico State. Driving home with his family in 2014, unidentified men opened fire on his vehicle, killing his 12 year old son, Juan. He and his family fled to Mexico City where living costs were much more expensive. In addition to these financial concerns, the family attempted to cope with their grief, receiving emotional support and medication where necessary. A grant from the Trust contributed towards Indalecio’s basic living costs and also covered the costs of his children’s education in Mexico City.
Kholoud is a Syrian freelance journalist and co-founder/editor of ‘Enab Baladi’, an underground newspaper which reports on the atrocities of the Syrian conflict from their base in Turkey. After travelling to London in March 2016, she was detained in the UK after technical issues with her residency permit arose. The Trust provided Kholoud with an emergency financial grant to support her as she applied for a tourist visa to return to Turkey and normalise her residency status. The grant covered her flights, visa application, and basic subsistence whilst in London.
Despite the risks to her life, Gulhabor continued her work as a local reporter and fixer in Uzbekistan. In 2015, Gulbahor was told that she would be killed. Fearing for her safety and that of her husband and five children, she fled to Georgia. In exile, her daughter was diagnosed with lung cancer, forcing most of the family’s savings to go towards her medical tests and treatment rather than food and basic subsistence. A grant from the Trust provided 3 months’ basic subsistence for Gulbahor and her family as they focused on her daughter’s health.
After working as a fixer for two French journalists reporting on the current political situation in Chechnya, Milana was summoned by authorities and threatened. To make matters worse, she discovered that an astigmatism she had from birth was gradually eroding her optic nerves. As a freelance journalist working regularly with film and photography, Milana urgently required surgery to save her eyesight and continue her work. A grant from the Trust contributed towards the costs of Milana’s eye surgery and recuperation.
Barbara Kavugho Kamwira
Barbara was kidnapped at gunpoint, tortured, and ultimately released back to her family after her investigations into a criminal network. Further attempts were made against her life over the following weeks; one of the worst occurring as two men forcibly injected her with syringes of HIV infected blood. Barbara suffered paralysis and sciatic nerve damage to her foot as a result of the injections before fleeing to Kenya, but with no employment or stable support system she struggled to complete her physical and mental rehabilitation. The Trust provided a grant to support Barbara’s medical expenses.
In 2016, Nabil was attacked by two gunmen and shot in both legs because of his coverage of the war. He believed their decision not to kill him was calculated to spread fear amongst his colleagues. As a result of the attack his wounds became infected, and he was transfered to a hospital in Jordan. If left untreated he risked amputation. Fellow journalists coordinated funding efforts to ensure he was able to move safely to Jordan and undergo surgery as soon as possible. However, they needed support to reach the target. The Trust gave a grant towards Nabil’s medical costs.
Gaius Vagheni Kowene
Gaius was named as a threat to the country by DRC’s main opposition leaders and would soon be “systematically dealt with” by those in power. A few weeks later a contact of his close to the intelligence services warned that secret agents had been ordered to track and arrest him. He immediately fled with the help of his professional network, but was forced to leave behind all his work and belongings. The Trust gave a grant to cover Gaius’s immediate concerns; rent, food and basic living costs for 3 months.
Gulnur experienced regular threats, arrests and intimidation from the Azerbaijani security services throughout her journalistic career. In 2014, police raided the Baku office of RFE/RL where she worked and ordered its staff to stop their activities. Following the raid, the security services issued a warrant for Gulnur’s arrest, forcing her to flee with her family to Georgia. An initial grant from the Trust helped to cover her family’s accommodation in Tbilisi, but with her husband unemployed and Gulnur unable to work, a second grant from the Trust went to cover subsistence in Georgia.
Hasan Husain Qamber Yusuf
Hassan was forced to leave Bahrain and flee to Lebanon in 2011 due to his work as a journalist, combined with his work as a healthcare supervisor for a hospital accused of working with opposition forces. Fearing for himself and his young family, he made plans to leave the country. With access to public services and support for refugees extremely difficult in Lebanon, Hassan could only secure irregular freelance work and was struggling to support his young family. A grant from the Trust helped Hassan to cover school fees for his three daughters so he could focus on covering living costs for his family.
Junpei entered Syria alone in 2015 to report on the conflict. Reports that he had been kidnapped by the Al Nusra Front only started to filter through after he stopped updating his social media accounts and blogs. Whilst authorities attempted to negotiate his release, his wife Myu, a singer, was left to cover the rent and living costs of their home in Japan. Since the disappearance of Junpei she has been unable to work. The Trust provided a grant to cover Myu’s rent and living costs in Japan for one month, helping to relieve some of the burden as authorities searched for Junpei.
Ezzat Mustafa Mohammed Ahmed
Ezzat’s high-profile reporting from the south of Yemen gained him unwanted attention from militias controlling the northern capital. He went into hiding briefly in Sana’a after discovering that the Houthis were interrogating colleagues for his whereabouts. Along with his pregnant wife, Ezzat fled to Oman. Shortly thereafter he was separated from his wife as she fled to Saudi Arabia to safely deliver their child. At the time he contacted the Trust, he was stranded in Jordan, paying high rent and living costs, unable to find consistent freelance work. The Trust provided funds to help pay Ezzat’s living expenses.
Hussein Mohamed Hussein
Hussein is a Somalian freelance radio journalist and whilst on his way home from work one day, Hussein was attacked by a group of men who stole his equipment, including his laptop, camera, recorder, and cell phone. With his main equipment gone, it became almost impossible for him to do his job properly. With the quality and quantity of his work affected, his monthly income decreased dramatically. The Trust awarded Hussein a grant to help him replace his equipment and get back to work.
Most of Lucy’s work was focused in Turkey’s capital, where she was based. Following a short assignment in Germany, the Turkish authorities refused to allow her to re-enter the country, despite the valid tourist visa she was using. Not only was her apartment and all her possessions in Istanbul, but most of her contacts were based in the country. After dedicating two years of her career to reporting from the country, she was unsure how she’d be able to support herself. The Trust gave Lucy a grant to cover her legal fees as she contested the entry ban against her.
From the onset of civil war in Yemen in 2015, Al-Migdad and his family received numerous threats, attempted arrests and accusations from high-ranking officials within the fledgling Houthi government as well as from members of local militias in the capital. Sometimes these threats would force him to seek temporary refuge away from the capital, but he would always return to continue his work as a freelance print journalist and support to visiting journalists. A grant from the Trust gave Al-Migdad the opportunity to feed his family and cover their rent for three months. Sadly, Al-Migdad was killed in 2016.
During one of her reports on the civilians being evacuated from eastern parts of Ukraine, Victoria was taken hostage by separatists. She was held for four hours without charge and her belongings were confiscated. Although she was eventually released she believed her arrest was directed at her personally as a Russian photojournalist providing commentary on the conflict. The Trust provided a grant to cover Victoria’s accommodation and basic subsistence in Ukraine for one month, as well as money to replace the equipment stolen from her.
Umida is a veteran freelance photojournalist in Uzbekistan. In 2010, Umida was charged with insulting the Uzbek people after she made a documentary on the traditional ban on premarital sex in Uzbekistan. She was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. Fortunately, she was pardoned, but she has since found it almost impossible to find work as a journalist. Her calls and other correspondence are regularly monitored by the government. A grant from the Trust helped cover some of her living costs and buy a new camera.
Kateryna, from Donbass, Eastern Ukraine, covered the Malaysian Airlines MH-17 crash which killed all 298 people on board. Around the same time her house was shelled and she was threatened because of her job. Then in 2017, when she was covering the Grenfell Tower fire in London, she began to experience flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms. The Trust provided an assistance grant that enabled her to receive the short-term, specialist therapy she needed to help her process her trauma and manage future situations.
Chandler is a Canadian freelancer living in Bangkok, who was seriously injured while covering the Red Shirt protests in May 2010. Hit by shrapnel from an M79 grenade, he was left unconscious, with multiple injuries to his body and head. The Trust provided financial assistance for specialist physiotherapy and lost equipment days after the incident. However, the blast left Chandler partially deaf, which had a tremendous impact on his work. In 2011, the Trust gave Chandler a second grant to cover the cost of a hearing aid.
Family of Mehmood Khan
Mehmood died in a suicide bombing while on assignment in Quetta. His widow is illiterate and local Pashtun culture makes it extremely hard for her to earn a living or even to leave the house. After Mehmood’s death, a grant from the Trust allowed the family to cover school fees and move to a more liberal area of Quetta so Shumaila could move around more easily. With support from the Trust, Al Jazeera and Dawn News, Mehmood’s colleagues are helping her set up a home business to try and make ends meet.
Rehana, an NYC-based independent filmmaker, was in Pakistan in November 2016 filming in the house of the imprisoned political leader, Baba Jan, when they were suddenly given an on-site stop order. The crew’s equipment – including her camera, film gear and footage – were confiscated by Pakistani authorities. Rehana had no option but to return to New York without her equipment. A grant from the Trust contributed towards her rent and subsistence costs during this time, giving her the breathing space to replace her kit and get back to work.
Family of Rebecca Vassie
Rebecca, a British freelance photographer, was covering a story at a large refugee camp in Western Uganda when she suffered a severe allergic reaction which killed her. The guesthouse where she was staying served her sauce made with peanuts which triggered a massive asthma attack. She died in the ambulance on her way to Kampala hospital. Rebecca had been unable to secure health insurance for her long trips to Africa, so a grant from the Trust helped her family to repatriate her body back to the UK and cover the costs of her funeral.
Camille was working on a story about refugees in Western Sahara. Shortly after her arrival there, she was arrested by six armed policemen, military and secret service agents during the night. They denied her the right to know their identity, the reason for her arrest, or to see a judge or representative of the French embassy. A grant from the Trust contributed towards the costs of a new computer so she could continue her work.
Portuguese photojournalist Joao was in Argentina following the story of a local football team. As he and the reporter walked away from the team’s morning training session they were approached by a man with a gun who stole Joao’s bag along with all his camera equipment. According to the police, it was likely that someone from inside the football club had tipped off the robber. The Trust provided a grant to contribute towards new equipment for Joao, helping him get back to work as soon as possible.
Family of Cecilio Pineda
Cecilio was killed in March 2017 in Ciudad Altamirana having posted a video about the leader of the drug trafficking gang, El Tequilero, and accusing local police of protecting the group. Cecilio left behind a wife and two daughters, who were dependent on his income and who were left in shock following his sudden and tragic death. The Trust provided a grant to cover basic subsistence and health needs for the family, giving his widow the requisite time to think through how she would continue to provide for them.
Claudie Julieta Duque
As a result of Claudia’s investigative journalism, she was marked as a “priority target” for the Administrative Department for Security. She fell victim to illegal surveillance, interception of emails, threats, psychological torture and harassment by officials – she was even forced to leave the country. The attacks and threats only increased over the years, forcing her and her daughter to rely heavily on the protection from the National Protection Unit. A grant from the Trust went towards helping her with legal fees of the drawn-out lawsuits.
American photojournalist Tracie Williams was documenting the arrests of two men praying by a sacred fire at Standing Rock camp, North Dakota, when police swept in. She was arrested shortly afterwards, despite protestations that she was a journalist. Her equipment was seized as she was handcuffed and taken to jail. She was later charged with obstructing government functions and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine or face a year in jail. A grant from the Trust enabled her to pay her bills after she was left unable to work.
As a young freelancer in Western Libya, Mohammed has seen friends and colleagues killed due to a lack of basic safety awareness, hostile environment training and equipment. Travelling to Sirte from Misrata every week to cover stories for western broadcasters, he often encountered numerous checkpoints controlled by militias hostile to journalists. A grant from the Trust helped Mohammed cover the travel, accommodation and visa costs of attending a safety course in Turkey.