About Us

Hostage International exists to support the families of hostages, and former hostages around the world.

Kidnapping is a frightening and lonely experience, impacting not only the hostage but their family, friends, community, colleagues and employer. As an independent charity, we strive to make sure that people affected by kidnapping are supported throughout this ordeal.

We provide:

  • Emotional support and access to specialist services to families during and after the kidnap of a loved one, and to hostages who have returned home
  • Bespoke training to organisations, government departments and NGOs, around best practice in family support and hostage reintegration.
  • We also work discreetly to encourage governments and employers to adopt policies and practices in family and post-release which take into account the family and former hostage perspectives.

Hostage International’s area of expertise is in supporting the families of those who are kidnapped – or held in arbitrary detention – outside their home country, and hostages after their release. We are not involved in kidnap resolution but fill a much-needed gap in helping people cope with the day-to-day emotional and practical difficulties caused by kidnaps and illegal detentions.

Our History

Hostage International was founded as Hostage UK in 2004 by Sir Terry Waite KCMG CBE (former hostage in Beirut, 1987-1991) and Carlo Laurenzi OBE. Both recognised the gap in support provision for families and former hostages. They were soon joined by a handful of likeminded individuals, including Rachel Briggs OBE, who either had been personally affected by kidnapping or worked in kidnap and crisis management roles. Based in the UK, we became the go-to organisation for independent and open-ended support for families affected by a kidnap incident regardless of their nationality or place of residence.

In 2018, we changed our name to Hostage International to reflect the global scope of our work. In 2016, we co-founded Hostage US, and in 2019 we assisted in the launch of Hostage Italia.

Hostage International supports families and hostages and provides training and advocacy services around the world, while Hostage US and Hostage Italia are country-specific. The three existing Hostage organisations, while separate legal entities, share the same aims, operating principles and ethos.


Our impact

We constantly strive to do the best for those we support and thank you to everyone who helps make our work possible. Please read our impact report, highlighting our work from April 2022 to March 2023:

Impact Report 2022-23

Our Staff

Lara Symons

Chief Executive

[email protected]

Georgina Cooper

Communications & Engagement Manager

[email protected]

Jim Collins OBE

Case Manager

[email protected]

Michelle Sirkett

Team Assistant

[email protected]

Our President and Trustees

Sir Terry Waite KCMG CBE

Co-Founder & President

Carlo Laurenzi OBE

Vice-President and Co-Founder

Phil Bigley OBE

Trustee & Chair of the Board of Trustees

Libby Bassett

Trustee & Treasurer

Mike Millward

Trustee & Honorary Secretary

Peter Rudge


Claire Browne


Pulina Whitaker


Stephen Regel OBE

Trustee and mental health lead

Our Mental Health Panel

Dr Leslie Perman-Kerr

Mental Health Adviser, England, UK.

Professor Neil Greenberg

Mental Health Adviser, England, UK.

Professor Gordon Turnbull

Mental Health Adviser, England, UK.

Dr. Anthony Feinstein

Mental Health Adviser, Canada.

Arlene Healey

Mental Health Adviser, Northern Ireland, UK.

Professor Lynne McCormack

Mental Health Adviser, Australia.

Dr Alastair M Hull

Mental Health Adviser, Scotland, UK.