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The Team

Debra Barnes

Lead Project Coordinator (London and South)

I joined AJR in January 2017 to run the My Story project in London and the south-east. My background is in writing; I studied journalism and worked as communications manager for various large retail companies and as a freelance journalist for The Jewish News, before joining AJR. Although I am a second-generation Holocaust survivor (my mother was a hidden child in France) I only became interested in the subject around ten years ago. It would be true to say I have made up for lost time. As well as the My Story project I also lead AJR’s Second Generation work, and my first novel – a Holocaust story – will be published in 2020 by Duckworth Books.

I have the best job in the world. I get to meet the fabulous volunteers who want to work on this project, and the inspirational members who we write about. Handing over a finished book to a member and their family, and a copy for the volunteer of course, is a special moment and it is wonderful to be able to help keep their stories alive. 

As of November 2019 I have now project-managed 15 printed books and currently have a further 11 in production.

Naomi Kaye

Project Coordinator (Leeds & surrounding areas)

I joined AJR in May 2015 as the Memory Loss Befriending coordinator in the North. In the summer of 2017 I took on the additional role of the My Story coordinator in Leeds. I have a BSc (Hons) in Human Communication; studying the psychology and physiology of communication breakdown. I have studied counselling and used this qualification in a number of schools and as a volunteer for a number of charities. I have always had an interest in my European ancestry and am very passionate about hearing from refugees and survivors, and helping their stories be passed on to future generations.

I have wonderful volunteers who show great interest in helping to produce these special books. The members I have the pleasure in working with are all inspirational and I feel honored to be welcomed into their homes and be trusted with their incredible stories.

The My Story Leeds project is expanding to its surrounding areas and we hope to produce more books from further afield. To date I have produced three books with seven currently in production.

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