About Us

Hostage International exists to serve the needs of hostages and their families around the world.

Kidnapping is a frightful 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 their ordeal and do not suffer alone. We aim to make this terrible time slightly more bearable.

We provide personal support and access to specialist services to families during and after the kidnap of a loved one, and to hostages who have returned home.

We deliver training and education to organisations in family support and post-release support, assisting them in fulfilling their responsibilities to employees and their families in the wake of a kidnap or other crisis.

We advocate for improved policy and practice in family and post-release support by representing the family voice and providing a platform for families and former hostages to highlight their challenges and needs.

Our History

Hostage International was founded as Hostage UK in 2004 by Terry Waite 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, Hostage UK 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 Staff

Lara Symons

Chief Executive

[email protected]

Jessica Garratt

Operations Manager

[email protected] 

Georgina Cooper

Communications Executive

[email protected]

Our Board

Terry Waite


John Smith


Peter Rudge


Libby Bassett


Mike Millward

Honorary Secretary

Carlo Laurenzi OBE

Co-founder and Trustee

Phil Bigley

Vice-chair of the Board of Trustees

Claire Browne

Trustee and Communications Committee lead

Pulina Whitaker


Stephen Regel OBE


Jude Tebbutt


Chris Smith

Trustee and Fundraising Committee lead

Liz Chamberlin


Our Mental Health Panel

Dr Leslie Perman-Kerr

Mental Health Advisor

Professor Neil Greenberg

Mental Health Advisor

Professor Gordon Turnbull

Mental Health Advisor