Action for Children and Communities in Africa

Supporting street and acutely vulnerable children in Kenya since 2004.

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About us

Action for Children and Communities in Africa (ACACIA UK) works to support children living with disabilities and mental health issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. We believe that these children have the capacity and desire to transform their lives, and ACACIA UK exists to give them the opportunities that they deserve to gain an education, grow and thrive.

Our Vision, Mission and Objectives


ACACIA UK’s vision is that every child in Africa enjoys a high quality education that embraces their differing abilities.

Mission Statement

ACACIA UK is lifting barriers to education for girls and boys in East Africa to enable them to reach their full potential.

Our Beliefs

  • We believe in a world where children of all abilities and circumstance enjoy an education and embrace their own potential.
  • We believe that it is unacceptable that less than 5% of children with a disability in Africa go to school.
  • We believe that children with disabilities should have the right to be educated alongside their peers.
  • We believe that children in Africa, no matter their circumstance or ability, should have access to a decent primary and secondary education.
  • We believe that a child’s mental health is not a barrier to a full education.
  • We help vulnerable children gain the education that is their basic human right.

Our Values

Stand up for children

We stand up for the rights and voices of girls and boys with developmental disabilities and mental health issues, breaking down the barriers many face in gaining access to a quality, integrated education.

Celebrate difference

We celebrate diversity. We recognise that gender equality and disability awareness are fundamentals on the path to universal human dignity. We believe in increasing knowledge and understanding of developmental disability and mental health issues, and promoting acceptance, equity and social inclusion.

Be bold

We believe in working creatively, embracing change and supporting innovation, while reflecting on past experiences to enrich and improve our programmes.

Make friends

We respect and value each other; we thrive on diversity; we collaborate and work with partners, leveraging our respective strengths, to make a positive difference to the lives of girls and boys in sub-Saharan Africa living with disability and mental health issues.

Act responsibly

We are accountable to our beneficiaries, donors, volunteers and partners. Every action we take is in the best interest of our beneficiaries.

Our Board of Trustees

     Jon Uglow

Jon accepted the role as ACACIA Chair of Trustees following the partnership in 2018 between ACACIA and Rafiki Thabo Foundation. Jon also remains the Chair of Trustees for Rafiki Thabo Foundation, which he set up in 2006 after spending time in Kenya in his late teens. Jon is passionate about the work of both charities and will use his extensive experience and strong leadership to help drive ACACIAs work forward. Besides his involvement with the Rafiki Thabo Foundation, Jon runs a garden design business.

     Dennis Craggs

Dennis qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1976 and has since had wide experience working in a number of senior finance roles in international companies in the UK and overseas before retiring in 2013. He has been a Trustee for over twenty years for local charities providing services for children and young people.

     Sagar Patel

Sagar joined ACACIA UK as a trustee in August 2016. He is a GP by profession working in south-west London. He has developed a keen interest in Global Health and Development, working in a number of countries including India, Uganda, Belize and most recently Cambodia where he helped run a rural health program on household air pollution. He enjoys the role GPs play in community health initiatives.

     Philip Copeland

Philip is an accountant by training and has worked with many UK and International companies in a career of over 30 years.  Most recently he has worked as a consultant to UK listed companies on assignments including accounting and financial reporting projects, systems implementations, and strengthening financial controls, as well as establishing good corporate governance and Board Reporting processes.  Philip lives in East London with his wife Shan who is a retired teacher.  It was Shan who introduced Philip to Acacia’s partner,  Rafiki Thabo, as she has twice taken groups of 6th form students to Lesotho, staying in a village whose school was supported by Rafiki.  Shan and Philip have three children and one grandchild.

     Lisa Warne

Lisa has senior management experience including a wealth of people management which involves direct line management and supporting those who manage. In addition Lisa has led on large scale change and continuous improvement projects. More recently Lisa has changed direction in her career and is a senior policy adviser, developing joint Environmental and Agricultural policy post EU exit. Lisa lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and two children, loves running and has a passion for the countryside, nature and outdoor life.

Our staff

     Janet Hayes, Chief Executive Officer

Janet is passionate about international development and she has worked in the sector for 18 years.  After a gap year with World Horizons where she supported projects in Francophone West Africa Janet completed university and worked as a VSO volunteer and staff member. In addition to her work for ACACIA, Janet is the Director at Rafiki and works for Oxford Policy Management, a consulting firm specialising in providing policy advice to developing country governments and donors.

Laura Horton, Shops Coordinator

Helen Holt, Fundraiser
Janne Pilbeam, Fundraiser

Kathy Clarke, Finance and Administration Officer

Marion Buckingham, Shop Manager, Abingdon
Fiona Hammond, Shop Manager, Faringdon
Sue Smith, Shop Manager, Grove

Our History

The charity was established in 1995 and was registered with the Charity Commission under the name Action for People in Conflict (AfPiC) by founders Peter and Dee Tyrer. The charity was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee on 18 February 1997. The registered name with the Charity Commission was later changed to Action for Children in Conflict (AfPiC) in 2000 and this became the official name of the company.

For the first five years of the Charities existence it primarily promoted small scale short term projects both in the UK and overseas. These included:

  • A program to provide school based mental health services to young refugee and asylum seekers who had experienced trauma in their home countries, helping them to settle in their new lives in the UK.
  • Funding for ‘Pirates for Peace’ a project based in Northern Ireland which aimed to encourage and facilitate cross denominational relations by setting up a former naval vessel as a radio station for children.
  • A number of small one-off aid grants were made to projects in Bosnia, South Africa, Croatia, Kosovo, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Fiji.

In 2003 AfPiC began working exclusively in Thika, Kenya forming a school feeding programme at a local primary school and establishing a legal aid programme. In 2004 the project expanded further to establish a drop-in and residential care centre for the town’s street children. In 2014 AfPiC and AfCiC Kenya, now a fully independent organisation and a registered Kenyan NGO with its own Board of Trustees and its own locally developed strategy, decided to bring the relationship to an end after establishing together some ground breaking projects and touching the lives of many thousands of children.

As the children we support do not necessarily live in a context of traditional conflict and it was time to change our name and refresh our mission. AfPiC began an in house re branding and re launched on April 1st 2015 as Action for Children and Communities in Africa (ACACIA UK). We continue to focus on education in Sub-Saharan Africa and support, through targeted small scale grant making, grass roots projects that reach out to children who have been left without an education as a result of disability or mental health issues to include and enable them to go to school and learn. We work for and with children and young people and do so in collaboration with their families and local communities to achieve a positive and lasting impact.

In 2017, the ACACIA trustees decided to seek another like-minded small charity with which to partner in order to combine forces to cut costs and increase the reach of our work overseas. Rafiki Thabo Foundation support various education projects in Kenya, Lesotho and Uganda. They provide scholarships to bright children living in poverty and have plans to expand their work to include children with disabilities. By combining ACACIA UK’s income streams from shops and donors and our expertise in disability with Rafiki Thabo’s broader geographical reach and well-established local committees of volunteer workers, we are able to help more children in need. In addition, by sharing administration and office costs, we have reduced overheads, leaving more money to be spent where it is needed.

ACACIA UK is committed to lifting barriers to education experienced by vulnerable children in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa and we hope that you will join us in our mission to enable all children, no matter their ability or circumstance, to achieve their full potential.