Supporting survivors of abuse across borders.

Chayn (pronounced ch-ay-n) means “solace” in Urdu.

Chayn is a global nonprofit, run by survivors and allies from around the world, creating resources to inform and support the healing of survivors of gender-based violence. We create open source online resources and services for survivors of abuse that are trauma-informed, intersectional, multi-lingual and feminist. 

We flip the design default, and put the experience of marginalised people at the heart of what we do, opening up access to our resources for all. We work across all forms of gender-based violence, especially domestic and sexual violence, and technology-facilitated abuse. We’ve reached 400,000 people across the globe, and reach more every day.

Chayn was started in 2013 by Hera Hussain. Hera was born in the UK but grew up in Pakistan. She helped two friends from the UK and Pakistan escape abusive marriages and  experienced significant challenges in finding the basic information they needed, like their rights and how to cope with trauma. She thought if she could put together critical information in easy to understand language online, it could change, and even save, lives.

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How we work

Started initially as a volunteer-run tech for good project, Chayn has now evolved into a hybrid organisation that operates collaboratively through the power of a team of paid staff and a committed volunteer network, many of whom are survivors ourselves. Lived experience is at the core of our governance model and strategy, and we, and shapes the organisation. Most of our volunteers join because they experienced trauma first or second hand and they want to contribute to a feminist future free from violence and abuse. 

Our team of skilled staff (some of whom first joined us as volunteers) support organisational administration, operations, and strategic development. Our global team come from all different personal and professional backgrounds and our collaborative structure allows us to work towards our strengths and knowledge, as well as learn from one another. 

We believe in radical transparency, participatory design and community-driven decision-making. Our volunteers are invited to operational and strategy meetings – including board and budget meetings – and are encouraged to give input. 

We care that our work is proactively anti-racist, decolonising and equity-based.

Team

Our globally distributed team is made up of full time and part-time staff, and contractors. Our expertise ranges from mental health care to design, research and technology. Our volunteers’ are a part of our team. 

Hera Hussain is the founder and CEO of Chayn. She has years of experience supporting survivors, and is responsible for oversight of the project, as well as being our Safeguarding Lead. Born in Scotland, raised in Pakistan and living in the UK, Hera knew from early on she wanted to empower women. Hera was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 and MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 list, and was awarded the British Empire Medal by Her Majesty the Queen. Hera speaks English, Urdu, and Punjabi.

Naomi Alexander Naidoo is the Movement Builder at Chayn. Naomi was previously Head of Community and Communications at the Finance Innovation Lab, building and supporting a community of systems-changemakers and leading the Lab’s communications. Naomi is an organiser with POCIMPACT – a community connecting, recognising and supporting people of colour working in social impact. She also sits on the advisory board for Friends of the Earth’s Own It initiative. Naomi has an academic background in philosophy, with a particular focus on the ethics of climate change. She graduated from King’s College London with a first class degree in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in 2013, followed by an MA in Applied Ethics from Utrecht University in 2015. Her master thesis explored the role of hope in enabling climate action.

Kim Burnell is Chayn’s Operations Manager, working closely with the Board she leads on finance, HR and governance. She has worked in the third sector for over a decade and is an expert in charity management and trauma-informed operations. Prior to Chayn, Kim was Company Manager at Cape Farewell, an international non-profit working with artists and scientists to fight climate change through culture. She lives in the UK and speaks English.

Zoë Firth is a British-American who grew up in California and the UK. She has a background in Psychology with experience working in acute mental health, and recently completed a clinical research MSc. As Bloom’s Project Lead, Zoë writes, edits, and facilitates the Bloom courses, manages our live chat, and leads admin and project schedules. Zoë speaks English and French.

Flora Butler is a Master’s student in Gender Studies at SOAS University, where she specialises in Gender in the Middle East. She is the founder of an independent publishing house, and is a practicing painter and poet. Based in London, Flora speaks English, French, and Italian.

Beatriz Diaz is a service designer based in Colombia. She has experience in service design for social innovation and mental healthcare. She is a course facilitator responsible for graphic design and user research. She speaks Spanish, English, and Italian.

Nooreen Khan is a public health professional focusing on gender-based violence prevention, community education, and social justice. She is Chayn’s People Lead responsible for recruitment and team leadership, and a course facilitator for Bloom. Nooreen grew up in the UAE and now lives in Canada. She speaks English, Bengali, and Hindi.

Anna Hughes is a tech lead and web developer specialising in Tech for Good. She has experience building web services prioritising accessibility, security, and impact. She is Bloom’s Tech Lead responsible for building our new platform. Anna lives in the UK and speaks English.

Tiffany Lo is a New Yorker now residing in Colorado. She is a Web Developer, mother, and gender rights activist. She created the Bloom website, and consults on the tech development of Bloom.

Rebecca Rae-Evans (contractor) has a varied and extensive 15-year background in research and user-centred design, working with bluechip clients on award-winning digital projects. Her focus is digital transformation, lean research, service design and product innovation for social good. Rebecca lives in the UK, and speaks English.

We also work with therapists and a network of gender-based violence experts to check the accuracy of our resources.

Board

Our hands-on Board of Trustees ensures we stay true to our core values and our future is guided by the vision of our community – volunteers, staff and users alike. 

Dama Sathianathan is a Partner at Bethnal Green Ventures, Europe’s leading early stage VC in tech for good which has 4 funds and has made 141 investments to date.Dama co-hosts the LDN Tech for Good, WorkerTech and ICT4D London meetups. She previously worked for international NGOs in digital communications and holds a BA degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Tilburg University and an MA in International Relations from Leiden University. In 2021 Dama was included in the Top 100 Asian Stars in UK Tech 2021 list which showcases the most inspirational Asian people working in Britain’s tech sector.

Antonella Napolitano is Network Coordinator at Privacy International, a global civil liberties organisation that challenges government and companies and their surveillance practices and advocates for strong regional, national and international laws that protect privacy. Antonella recently co-authored the report “Digital Identity in the Migration & Refugee Context” on the challenges of continually collecting identity data from migrants & refugees (published by Data & Society). She contributes to magazines and online outlets and speaks at conferences such as Personal Democracy Forum, the International Festival of Journalism, Re:publica, State of the Net. Previously, she worked as Communications Manager at CILD, the Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights. 

Anjali Ramachandran is a Director at Storythings, a media strategy and content production company. She is co-founder of Ada’s List, a global network for women in STEM with over 8000 members. She writes the Other Valleys newsletter about creative and technology news in emerging markets. Previously, Anjali was Head of Innovation at PHD Media, a trustee of visual arts charity Photoworks and on the Advisory Board of Angel Academe, a group of angel investors who fund female entrepreneurs. She was one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2014 and the Financial Times/Inclusive Boards Top 100 BAME Tech Leaders in the UK 2018.

Nissa Ramsay is the founder of Think Social Tech, a research consultancy supporting non-profits and funders in the tech for good field. She has led the redesign of Comic Relief’s Tech vs Abuse fund, undertaken research into charity digital mental health services for Nominet and documented Charity Digital Journeys for Catalyst. Nissa has a PhD in Human Geography, an MSc in Digital Sociology and over ten years experience in the Third Sector.

Shirin Zaid is an award-winning communications professional who left a career in law to make a difference and focus on creating change. Shirin has several years in the charity with a strong focus on digital communications and campaigning for change, she is currently leading on all things brand, marketing and digital at Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for young people’s mental health.

Our open vacancies can be found here.

Values

We’re a trauma-informed organisation that cares not just about what we’re doing and why. The same principles apply to how we organise and treat each other within and outside of Chayn. 

  • Feminist with an intersectional lens: We commit to feminist principles including that of deconolisation and anti-racism throughout our work, and we keep ourselves aware and in solidarity with broader feminist issues beyond our own mission. We are trans inclusive. 
  • Survivor-centred: We operate on a ‘build with, not for basis.’ All of our work is driven by the needs of survivors from all walks of life. We provide support without judgement for each stage of a survivor’s journey. 
  • Transparent: We build and work out in the open. We cannot tackle common challenges without sharing, learning from and building on each other’s work. This is why our team is involved in all decision-making, our building processes are shared with the public, and all our resources are under Creative Common licenses so anyone can remix and share them with attribution.
  • Generous: We hold space for each other’s experiences, thoughts and learning journeys as a multicultural, distributed team. We choose to call in before calling out, and embrace that we will remain a learning community despite our years of experience in this field.
  • Inclusive: Our resources are free and designed with the user in mind. We write our resources for a global audience, having many available in multiple languages, and our design centers the safety of our users.
  • Learning: The world is not static and we shouldn’t be either. We are on a constant mission to grow and learn as a team, creating inclusive resources and organisational culture. 

Our trauma-informed design principles approach can be found here. We’re also signed up to the Design Justice principles.

Governance

We started in 2013, and registered as a social enterprise (limited by guarantee) in the UK in 2019. Our Companies House records, including our mission and constitution, can be found here. Our company number is 11834461. We have applied for the UK Charity Commission, and are waiting on an approval of our charity status.

Chayn started as a volunteer-only initiative and survived on small donations and grants for the first few years of its life. Since 2018 we have grown, thanks to the generous support of our grant funders, and corporate and individual donations. We’re incredibly grateful to all our supporters, including The National Lottery Community Fund, Department of Culture, Media & Sport, Tudor Trust, Joffe Trust, Nesta and Comic Relief. 

Awards

Hear our story