Meet Our Staff

Elaine Ortiz

Founder - Director (She/Her)

 I have the privilege of leading our incredible and dynamic organisation, working closely with our 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, alongside the amazing 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 racist practices of the UK government and the asylum system towards young refugees.

Prior to setting up the Hummingbird Project in 2015, my work has been in HIV, 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 and collective action.

I’m interested in and passionate about social justice, anti-racist practice and interesectional 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

Joshua Samuels

Service Manager (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.

Favourite Quote: "Be who you needed when you were younger"

Ayesha Siddiqi   

Sarah Bennett

GSC Lead

I am an experienced facilitator who is passionate about creating spaces for connection. I have led GSC since 2018 and provided Maternity Cover as Hummingbird's Service Manager throughout 2019.

My varied career in the third sector has included roles as a Mental Health Support Worker, a facilitator for VSO’s youth programmes, leading peace-building youth arts projects for Firefly International in Bosnia and campaigning for Oxfam.

I am a visual artist and outside Hummingbird, predominantly works as an artist-facilitator. I believe creative encounters can change the way we see the world and each other. I have an MA in Inclusive Arts Practice, have taught as a Postgraduate Lecturer at University of Brighton and led visual arts projects for organisations including ONCA, Fabrica, Rocket Artists & Photoworks.

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.

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.

Favourite quote: “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 

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

Habakkuk 2:2

Joe Trueman

Financial Administrator (he/him)

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.

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

Charlie Chaplin

Dr. Reima Ana Maglajlic


Rea is an experienced voluntary sector practice supervisor in the UK and abroad. She has been providing both casework and organisational development supervision in the Hummingbird Project since 2015.

Rea is a registered social worker and a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Sussex. Rea's practice and research to date focuses on social work, political conflict and mental health.

She has first hand experience of working with refugees and displaced persons in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, both in these two countries and in the UK. Between 2017-2019, she has worked with Social Workers without Borders to help co-edit a book on Social Work with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants 

Meet Our Trustees

Chas Walker


Chas Walker is CEO of YMCA Downslink Group.  He joined the YMCA in October 2009 as Deputy Chief Executive. He was appointed to the CEO role in July 2015. Chas has a background in supported housing working for Southdown Housing Association in a frontline role and then Hyde Housing in a management capacity before joining the YMCA.


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.

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.

Dr. Mark Doidge


Mark  is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Brighton. His research focuses on exposing power imbalances in sport and seeking to transform sport into a positive social activity, whether it is supporting refugees in their new home, football fans challenging discrimination or helping their local communities. He is also a committee member of Sanctuary on Sea, Football Supporters Europe and the British Sociological Association.

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


Bio Coming Soon

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

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 .

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.