A Vision for Growth & Introducing our New Directors

Friends International, in partnership with churches and Christian Unions, had contact with 11,000 international students last year… but we’re still only scratching the surface.

Our vision for the next 10 years is to expand the work to 12 new locations across the UK and Ireland, recruiting 20 new staff members and engaging with 4,000 more international students annually.

The 12 locations we have identified have large numbers of international students but are also places where we currently do not have staff and will be the first places we will focus on as we grow: Coventry, Dublin, Liverpool, Brighton, Reading, Hatfield, Swansea, Huddersfield, Medway, Sunderland, Bangor and Plymouth.

We also recognise that there are other locations where we already have staff, but the sheer number of international students demands an increased presence. Therefore, we plan to add further staff workers in London, Sheffield, Cardiff, Aberdeen, Bath, St Andrews, Durham, and Exeter, to serve the growing numbers of international students.

We have already begun working hard towards this vision. In the last six months we have improved infrastructure to support these new developments by appointing an Operations Manager and two more Regional Development Directors (see below). This will enable the growth of our organisation to be smooth and sustainable.

The next step, and the most crucial, is to pray. May we ask you to join us in praying for God’s guidance and grace every step of the way? Please ask God to bring the right new people into the ministry and for Him to bring to us many more faithful and generous supporters to back the vision.

Thank you for your continued support. 

— Alan Tower, National Director

Ivan Neira
Iván Neira
Susanne Koch
Susanne Koch

Introducing our New Directors

I am Iván, originally from Chile and together with my wife Joanne from Scotland, we have served in overseas missions for the last 30 years, first onboard OM’s ships (where we met) and then as part of the leadership of OM UK.

I’m excited about Friends International’s passion to reach international students in the UK with the love of Jesus. The key for me is the desire to honour the local church as the vehicle for our ministry. Not just befriending students but when appropriate, discipling them so they can make disciples. The ministry is impacting nations through the individuals we meet weekly.

I am energised by the vision and hope to see new staff workers appointed and more churches being mobilised to join with us in ministry, multiplying the impact. What we see is great, the scope is greater if we work together, with a sense of urgency.

— Iván Neira, Regional Development Director – North England & North Wales


I’m Susanne, I grew up in the countryside in Germany, but I have also lived in five different countries, including time in Spain working as an IFES Team Leader. 

My life changed completely when I became a Christian as an international student in the United States, and because of that I’m excited about contributing to reaching more international students with the good news of Jesus Christ and discipling students who are already Christians, but have the opportunity to grow and widen their horizon while being abroad.

I would love to see more students engaging in London and overcoming the typical challenges that we can find in big cities. It would be fantastic to be able to at least partially crack the code and expand and strengthen the ministry across other centres in South East England.

— Susanne Koch, Regional Development Director – South East England 

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