Meet Our Staff

Elaine Ortiz

Founder - Director (She/Her)

Ilead the incredible and dynamic 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 that 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 but also supporting those living with HIV.

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-racist practice and intersectional feminism.

Alongside my work with Hummingbird I am currently studying a part time masters in Power, Participation and Social Change. This is to help support our thinking and actions as an organisation as we begin to step up our work pushing for social change.

'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

Joshua Samuels

Service Manager & Interim Deputy Director (He/Him)

At Hummingbird I manage our awesome team of programme leads and specialist support workers, seeking to provide the best environment and tools to support young refugees in their often difficult journey. I particularly appreciate working with a team of people that listen to and learn from young people in the development and delivery of our services.

Born and raised on the island of Bermuda, I have worked for over 14 years in the charity sector, primarily with young people and refugees. Prior to my current role at Hummingbird, I worked in Dallas, Texas, USA developing and leading refugee support programmes in the areas of friendship, education, employment, and advocacy.

I came to the UK in 2019 to pursue an MA in Migration Studies from the University of Sussex and was introduced to the work of the Hummingbird Project by a classmate. My hope is that young refugees and asylum seekers feel welcomed and are empowered to flourish, as our local community works together to create a warm, welcoming city, and systems that are just and equitable.

 "Be who you needed when you were younger"

Ayesha Siddiqi   

Mel Gould

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

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

Youth Consultant & Young Leader Graduate

 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.

Martin Hawes

Senior Specialist Support Worker (He/Him)

I am the Senior Specialist Support Worker for our Be Well, Be Heard service, providing one-to-one casework with young people and working with our wonderful team. 

I have been supporting and working alongside young people from refugee backgrounds for the last 6 years both in the UK and France. Through a combination of youth work, casework and emotional support. 

I am passionate about supporting young people to challenge the hostile environment in the UK and thrive. I also am focused on giving young people the resources and information they need to grow in confidence and develop their own skills and abilities. 

"Like a flower of Almond in April, Since revolution grows in the wounds of grief, Rise in honor of the forests, Rise in honor of the rivers."

Nizar Qabbani

Otis Kirby-Dunkley

Specialist Refugee Support Worker (They/Them/Otis)

My role at Hummingbird is to provide one-to-one support for young people.

I have been working to support the wellbeing of refugees and young people both in the UK and in France since graduating from university in 2015. Alongside my work at Hummingbird I deliver training in suicide prevention to professionals, parents and students. 

I am passionate about my role at Hummingbird because I believe everyone should have access to support as and when they need it.

Svetlana Scheck-Ramzy

Specialist Refugee Support Worker (She/Her)

My role is Specialist Support Worker, providing one-to-one support to young people across all aspects of their lives.

Prior to my current role, I spent many years in the live events industry.  I am also a trainee counsellor and bereavement volunteer. 

I’m passionate about community and enjoy working with young people to support them in making a new home in a welcoming environment.

 “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Maya Angelou

Phati Mnguni

Young Women's Group & Female Engagement Lead (She/Her)

My role is Young Women’s Group Lead, providing group support to young women online 

My work background has always been working with people, for people in various capacities. This involved me working as an artist, Exhibiting my painting, delivering art workshops, Therapeutic art life coaching, and Business Brand Story coaching, helping people use their personal story to find their  brand story, using the P.H.A.T.I Brand Story System, that l devised. I have also worked in Schools as a Supply teacher, and been invited for speaking engagements,  as an Inspirational Speaker at events like International Women’ Day, Refugee Week, advocate for women in domestic abuse. 

l love working with young people, helping them make wise CHOICES and decisions for their lives, and in this case young women coming from refugee backgrounds, l can relate. I came from that background myself 

 “Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he may run that readeth it”

Habakkuk 2:2

Joe Trueman

Financial Administrator

My role at Hummingbird is to oversee the financial activities of the organisation, as well as the general administration of the charity. I am focused on improving working processes for the team, to support the charity’s services.

Prior to joining Hummingbird, I worked for several years as an accounts assistant within an international development consultancy firm.

I feel passionately about the protection of those most vulnerable in our community, so I am pleased to aid the Hummingbird team in making Brighton a more welcoming and supportive environment for young people from refugee backgrounds.

Toby Moore

Young Leaders Project Lead (He/Him)

I help to run our 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

Meet Our Trustees

Fabia Bates


Fabia Bates is the Sector Support Manager for Community Works, the membership organisation for the voluntary and community sector in Brighton & Hove, Adur & Worthing. She has worked in the voluntary sector for over 20 years, including 5 years as Director of Survivors' Network, the Rape Crisis Centre for Susssex .

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.

May Anderson


May is currently retired and studying for a BA in Fine Art in Brighton. She was previously a senior tax inspector in the Inland Revenue (later HMRC) in Scotland and London, when one of her roles was head of IR Charities (Scotland). She has been a Trustee of several Arts organisations and brings to Hummingbird an understanding of accounts, bookkeeping and charity law. She is also an accredited mediator.

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

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.

Jayne Grier


Jayne is Head of Organisational Change and People at Frontline AIDS, an international development charity in Hove.  An experienced leader with a 20-year track record in the not-for-profit sector, Jayne has a background in strategic communications. She now works in the fields of Organisational Development, Brand, Governance and Strategy.  She is also a trained Business Coach. 

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.