Third Sector Awards 2019: Charity Chief Executive - Stephen Hale, Refugee Action

Awarded to the chief executive who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her organisation, or the wider sector, over the past year

Stephen Hale
Stephen Hale

Category sponsored by Third Sector Jobs

Who is he?

Stephen Hale joined Refugee Action as chief executive in February 2015. Four months after his arrival he faced a profound crisis after the Home Office decided to close down a national programme that provided more than 80 per cent of the charity’s income.

What has he done for the charity?

Hale’s exceptional leadership over the past four years has enabled Refugee Action to bounce back from this crisis. He played a crucial role in increasing income from trusts and foundations by 450 per cent in four years, and public income by 350 per cent over the same period. As a strategic leader, Hale has developed and adapted Refugee Action's strategy during a period of huge turbulence for migration charities. In the summer of 2015 the charity developed a bold new strategy, extending its work from front-line services to tackling the root causes of the problems faced by refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. It established a new campaigns function to influence government policy and practice, and set up the sector’s first capacity-building team to increase the quantity and quality of support provided by the sector as a whole.

What else has he achieved?

Hale recently led the development of a new strategy for 2019-22, focusing on shifting power to refugees and people seeking asylum. The organisation has set targets to increase refugee representation in the staff team and board. Since 2016, Refugee Action has supported more than 8,000 people to access justice and escape poverty, won £10m for English language classes for refugees and enabled 129 organisations to increase their immigration advice capacity. It has also supported more than 4,000 refugees from Syria and elsewhere to rebuild their lives.

Highly commended

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall

Kate Lee, Clic Sargent


Ian Caren, Launchpad Reading

Christina Marriott, Revolving Doors Agency

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