Meet Our Staff

Elaine Ortiz

Founder - Director (She/Her)

I lead the incredible Hummingbird Project, and work closely with our Hummingbird Young Leaders to make sure our work is centred around the ideas and feedback of young people with lived experience.

I began the Hummingbird project in 2015, alongside the community of Brighton, as a response to the hostile and ill treatment of refugees in the Calais ‘Jungle’ in Northern France. I have been honoured to continue our work in the UK since 2017, now as a registered charity, responding to the hostile environment and often racist practices of the UK government through the asylum system.

Prior to setting up the Hummingbird Project in 2015, my work has largely been on the frontline. Mostly in child protection and with adults and children who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.

I have always been involved in activism and believe strongly in the power of hope, solidarity and collective action.

I have special interests in social justice, anti-oppressive practices and intersectional feminism.

'I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Amira Rady

Youth Service Manager (She/Her)

I manage our fantastic interdisciplinary team at Hummingbird who seek to provide the best environment and tools to support the courageous and resilient young people we work with. 

I began my journey in the refugee support sector in 2015 whilst studying International Relations and Development Studies at SOAS. Prior to my current role at Hummingbird I have worked in a variety of grassroots charities that centre on promoting the rights of people with lived experience of migration. These roles have focussed on the delivery and management of frontline advice and support services, advocacy and campaigning, social integration programmes and legal education. 

I am passionate about and committed to positive social change and championing the rights, livelihoods and wellbeing of people affected by the hostile environment. 


Mel Gould

Global Social Club Lead (She/They)

I feel very lucky to have been appointed as Global Social Club Lead.
The project has a strong history of providing fun and intercultural interaction in a warm, safe space. I'm excited to be leading the Club's amazing team of dedicated staff, partners and volunteers.

I am a trained youth worker, facilitator, trainer, teacher and
campaigner. I've spent most of my career in the UK, as well as in Eritrea, Nepal and the Caribbean.

I'm passionate about meeting young people and facilitating spaces where they can grow, share and have new experiences. Global Social Club is a space like this - and it is such a joy to spend time with the young people who attend.

 “I am a person through other people.
My humanity is tied to yours.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu 

Hannah Furukawa

Learning Space Lead (She/Her)

I am Hummingbird’s Education Lead and run our learning space. 

I am an experienced teacher and have worked in education for over 10 years, including supporting young refugees in the UK and abroad. I have an MA in Migration and Global Development from the University of Sussex.

I believe that learning is a lifelong process which should be accessible to everyone. I enjoy supporting young people to develop their skills and knowledge to open up new opportunities and allow them to fulfil their potential.

Naqeeb Saide

Hummingbird Ambassador & Specialist Support Worker (He/Him)

 I am one of Hummingbird Project's longest standing Young Leaders and a winner of Campaigner of the Year in the 2019 UK Parliamentry Awards.

I regularly represent the charitiy at events, meetings and in the media. Including representing the organisation and young people in the Houses of Parliament.

I am  currently studying a to be a Social Worker at university,  And I'm also the founder of Worthing Ping table tennis club and was a touring actor in the much celebrated play ‘Borderline’. 

One interesting fact, is that coined the expression standing shoulder to shoulder’ which inspired the Hummingbird Project's vision statement.

Lucy Hunton

Be Well, Be Heard Team Leader (She/Her)

I’m the Team Leader of the Be Well, Be Heard service. 

I’m very proud to support our team of talented Specialist Support Workers, who offer 1:1 support to young people, in navigating the many systems in the UK, (e.g. asylum, health, education, housing, finances). The team works to assist each young person in feeling safer, more supported, and to develop their independence.    

Since 2014, I’ve worked alongside children, young people and adults who have a lived experience of migration, (in northern France, Greece and the UK), including 5 years in the home of a community of young people.  

I am passionate about young people feeling truly seen and heard, understanding their rights and entitlements, and in the power of community. 

My interest is in supporting the Be Well, Be Heard team to feel safe, connected and empowered in the work that they do, so that we can stand strongly together with the young people who access the service. 

Esme Kemp

Young Women's Specialist Support Worker (She/Her)

I am the Young Women's Specialist Support Worker as part of the Be Well Be Heard team. I offer specialised 1:1 support to the young women we support and I am thrilled to work alongside such inspirational colleagues and young people.

I have been volunteering and working in the charity sector for 10 years, and specifically alongside people from refugee backgrounds since 2019. I have worked and volunteered across the UK, Cambodia, Peru and West Africa in schools and with community groups. I am dedicated to championing the voices of racialised people and acknowledge that as a sector we must continually push back against imperial models of charity. Keeping the voices of the people we work with at the forefront is central to decolonising charity work.

Outside of Hummingbird I am a freelance illustrator and am currently working on publishing my first children's book. I have produced graphic sketchnotes for Action Aid Senagal, Comic Relief's Global majority Fund, Voices of Domestic Workers, and the annual UNcharitable Fundraising Conference.

Roz Doe

Specialist Support Worker for Global Social Club (She/Her)

I am the Specialist Support Worker for Global Social Club and am excited to be joining a great team of staff and volunteers in creating a fun, inclusive, supportive and welcoming space for young refugees and asylum seekers in Brighton.

I am passionate about protecting the rights of young refugees and asylum seekers and ensuring their participation in decision making and service delivery. This commitment has inspired my work supporting young refugees over the last 20 years. I have worked with young refugees for many different charities in the UK and internationally. Most recently, I was working as youth caseworker in Croydon for a charity called Young Roots, which I co-founded in 2004.

I hold an MSc in Forced Migration and a doctorate in International Development Studies focused on the experiences of young Bhutanese refugees growing up in camps, both from the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre.

Alongside my role with Hummingbird, I recently qualified as an integrative counsellor and work within a college counselling service.    

"Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being"

Khalil Gibran

Rosie Cava-Beale

Young Leaders Support and Engagement Worker

I am thrilled to be joining the Hummingbird Project as a Young Leaders Support and Engagement Worker. As the daughter and granddaughter of refugees, I truly feel the key to supporting young people is listening to what they have to say; helping to elevate their own voices and lived experiences. After over ten years of working with young people from a range of backgrounds, teaching and building confidence through drama and play, I feel excited to be working alongside young people and learning from what they bring to the table. My previous professional experience is in theatre, working as a performer in musicals touring the UK and Internationally, and alongside my work at The Hummingbird Project I am also a trainee counsellor where I am undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Humanistic Counselling and Psychotherapy at Brighton University. I am extremely excited to work with Young Leaders and to be a part of the amazing work The Hummingbird Project does. 

Bex Large

Young Leaders Programme Lead (They/Them)

I am the new Young Leaders Lead, and it's an exciting project  to join. I am very passionate about young people having a voice and a seat at the table.

I have nearly 20 years expereince working with young people in the charity, mental health and arts sector. I am an educator and arts practitioner who's practice focuses on mental health and wellbeing, empowerment, participatory practice and creativity!

I have worked for various grassroots charities in London, managing, developing, facilitating projects with and for young people, providing a safe space for people to have their voices heard. My background was in community arts for social change. I am also a trainee counsellor Mindfulness practitioner and work in a trauma informed, compassionate way.

I have worked extensively in the LGBTQ+ youth sector, VAWG, and with young people with additional needs (disabilities, neurodiversity).

I am excited to support our future Young Leaders and join such an amazing team at Hummingbird!

 “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Audre Lorde

Joe Trueman

Fundraising Manager (She/Her)

My role at Hummingbird is to secure vital funding for our youth services. This includes crafting fundraising strategies, submitting grant applications to trusts and foundations, and supporting community fundraising initiatives. I also oversee our relationships with donors and funders, ensuring that we meet all reporting requirements. 

I feel passionately about the protection of those most vulnerable in our community, so I take pride in contributing to Hummingbird's efforts to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for young people from refugee backgrounds here in Brighton.

"When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

Toni Morrison

Sangeeta Banerjee

Finance & Administration Officer (She/Her)

In my role at Hummingbird I oversee the general administration and financial processes as part of a job share with my colleague, Kate. Having previously worked in the charity and higher education sector and across various international contexts, I am delighted to now be part of the Hummingbird Project team, working alongside people who share the same core values. 

I am passionate about equality, social justice and anti-racism work. In particular, the centering of the voices and lived experiences of minoritised people and communities. 

Alongside my work at Hummingbird I am studying for a part-time PhD at University of the Creative Arts, exploring Bengali British identity through hand weaving and contemporary textile design. 

"Stand for something or you will fall for anything."

Rosa Parks 

Toby Moore

Young Leaders Facilitator Volunteer (He/Him)

I volunteer with the Young Leaders Program! I support young people in learning new skills such as public speaking, leadership, communication and confidence.

I also help the Young Leaders prepare for events and public speaking engagments and work with other refugee organisations to help share our learnings from the Young Leaders Program. 

My work experience is a wide variety of technology, events and creativity. More than anything I just like dreaming up ideas and making them happen. 

I love to see people (young and old) grow in confidence and take on new opportunties and challenges. Watching and each every  Hummingbird Young Leader progress on their own amazing journey fills me hope and pride.

"You, the people have the power.  The power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure"

Charlie Chaplin

Kate Valentine

Finance & Administration Officer (She/Her)

As Finance and Administration Officer I help with managing Hummingbird’s financial activities and supporting the team with HR and administration.    

I love my job because it combines my passion for Human Rights with my love of spreadsheets and the satisfaction that comes from making things balance.  Coming to work every day and being surrounded by people with the same moral values as me is very important and because of this I feel very lucky to be a part of the Hummingbird team.  

My working background includes managing the finance for an environmental charity as well as volunteer recruitment and management for a social prescribing project.  I also have a degree in Human Rights and Creative Writing. 

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.  It is what difference we have made to the lives of others."

Nelson Mandela

Meet Our Trustees

Neha Patel Hampton


Neha has over 20 years experience driving large scale organisational change.

Neha has now stepped out of the corperate world, to set up a successful food business where she shares her passion for global cuisine, she has also retrained as a yoga teacher

More recently Neha has joined the charity sector to join the fight against racial and gender inequality.

Atiya Gourlay

Trustee & Treasurer 

Atiya leads equality and strategic partnerships at Children's Services for East Sussex County Council. She is particuarly excited about championing youth voice and facilitatuing collaborative commissioning across the public and voluntary sector.

Her voluntary roles include Trustee of Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust and Chair of south Asian classical dance company, Amina Khayyam Dance Company.


Elisa Sandri

Trustee & Secretary

Elisa is a consultant with over 6 years’ experience of working in
research, monitoring and evaluation in international development and
in the humanitarian sector. She joined the Hummingbird Project in
Calais in 2015 and has published her research on volunteers providing
informal humanitarian aid in Northern France in academic journals and
in a book.

Damien Robert


Damien is a digital marketing wiz and passionate about Internet and the way it connects people and cultures.
He is also involved in different well-being activities like meditation, yoga and mindfulness.
Being a Trustee at The Hummingbird Project is a way of putting his knowledge and passion in the service of young refugees.

Richard Williams


Richard is an independent consultant specialising in evaluation, policy analysis and advocacy, with particular expertise in asylum and migration in the European Union. He is a member of MigrationWork CIC, a not-for-profit consultancy that focuses on migration and integration, and chairs Sanctuary-on-Sea, the Brighton & Hove City of Sanctuary group. He has been involved with Hummingbird since 2015.

Thomas Hipwood


Thom joined the Hummingbird project in September 2019 and brings with him 12 years of fundraising experience. In his previous role at Monash University, Australia, Thom helped to set up the 'Change It. For Good' Campaign to raise $500 million from 50,000 donors, which included a focus on significantly expanding the number of scholarships awarded to students seeking asylum

Katie Tong


Katie is a humanitarian consultant with 17 years’ experience working in emergency situations across Africa and Asia. Now based in Brighton, Katie conducts evaluations for UN agencies in complex conflict, displaced, and refugee contexts across the world. Katie specialises in protection issues with a specific focus on adolescents and youth, and gender.

Meet Our Volunteers

Bee (she/her)

I am a Sussex University Ambasador at Learning Space.

In my spare time I like to crochet. What I love best about Learning Space is the community that you get.

Ollie (he/him)

I am a Learning Mentor at Learning Space.

In my spare time I like to run, play football, go to festivals with friends. What I love best about Learning Space is the community feel and the support that volunteers offer young people and vice versa!


Suzanne (she/her)

I am an ESOL teacher and Learning Mentor at Learning Space. 

In my spare time I like to garden, sew, and tap dance. What I love best about Learning Space is working with young people, hearing their ideas and experiences. 

Alex (she/her)

I am an ESOL teacher at Learning Space.

In my spare time I like to read novels, go to the gym and swim in the sea. What I love most about Learning Space is getting to know new young people and helping with their literacy - chatting, studying and having fun!

Brittany (she/her)

I am a volunteer at Global Social Club (GSC)

In my spare time I like to go hiking, play board games and make art. What I love most about Global Social Club is spending time with the young people! I feel very lucky to spend my Monday evenings playing games and sharing meals with such wonderful young people.

Saul (he/him)

I am a volunteer at Global Social Club.

In my spare time I love to read, play basketball and make music. I make kitchen knives in the winters and love to use them to cook for my friends and loved ones. What I love best about Global Social Club is meeting, socialising and being inspired by the young people who, despite adversity, are some of the most kind hearted and positive people I’ve known. Also the delicious Ethiopian food ! 


I am a volunteer at Learning Space. 

In my spare time I like going out on my bike and listening to music. What I love best about Learning Space is talking to all the interesting young people!


I am a volunteer at Learning Space. 

In my spare time I love spending time with my family and walking my dog on the seafront or the South Downs. I have been working as a Maths tutor for many years and love being able to give students more confidence in their Maths. I have really enjoyed working with the learning space team at Hummingbird and meeting fantastic students who are keen to learn. 

Kate (she/her)

I am a Learning Mentor at Learning Space. 

In my spare time I love being in nature, whether running, swimming, walking or gardening. My working life was spent as a nurse, midwife, health visitor and healthcare / psychology tutor before moving into healthcare management. The aspect of Learning Space that I enjoy most is being part of the optimism, energy and hard work of the Hummingbird Project.

Terry (she/her)

I am a volunteer at Learning Space. 

As a previous English teacher I have lived in several other countries and have been shown warmth and kindness by so many. I agree with the poem which says that “Smiles are passports through the desert and visas to many foreign countries”. I feel lucky to be able to meet new people here in Brighton and to share their experiences.

Abby (she/her)

I am a volunteer at Global Social Club (GSC)

In my spare time I like to make dinner for friends, go climbing, writing, and rest in nature. What I love best about Global Social Club is the sense of community, the kindness, courage, and joy the young people exemplify every week, as well as all the laughs we have together.

Morgan (she/her)

I am a volunteer at Global Social Club (GSC)

In my spare time I like to enjoy the outdoors, read, travel and spend time with friends. What I love best about Global Social Club is the feeling of community and the chance to engage with such wonderful young people who have flourished despite the adversities they’ve faced.

Francesca (she/her)

I am an ESOL Teacher at Learning Space.

In my spare time I like walk in nature with a hot cup of coffee. What I love best about Learning Space the cheerful atmosphere.

Kerry (she/her)

I am a volunteer at Global Social Club.

In my spare time I enjoy being outdoors! I love swimming in the sea, having outdoor picnics with friends, bouldering, and reading/listening to audiobooks. What I love best about Global Social Club is the community aspect. It is a very warm and welcoming space, there is a lot of love in the group and such an amazing community feel. You also get so much support from the team which is great.