IN THE UK WE HAVE A SMALL CORE TEAM AND INCREDIBLE VOLUNTEERS WHO DONATE THEIR TIME AND SKILLS. THIS ALLOWS US TO FOCUS ON CAPACITY BUILDING FOR LOCAL PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRIES WHERE WE WORK.
I am the founder of Small Steps Project. I was working at an HIV hospice in Cambodia when I first visited the Stung Meanchey Dump, in Phnom Penh in 2009. It was there that I first saw hundreds of barefoot impoverished children scavenging in waste. I have been delivering shoe distributions and emergency aid projects to children and communities on dumps all over the world ever since. I also devise and implement sustainable projects with in country delivery parters to create solutions that enable children to take small steps off the dump.
I direct and produce documentaries, to create awareness about and campaign against the unacceptable conditions in which these children live. The films illustrate the problems they face and the solutions that we provide.
I also head up the UK Fundraising, The London Celebrity Shoe Auction and the Press & PR, using my skills as a former Celebrity Journalist to help generate publicity about an issue that is neglected in the media.
Marina Elvira RuizPA to the CEO
I've been part of Small Steps Projects since the beginning of 2017 and currently work as the Personal Assistant to the CEO. I have a background in Humanities and Art and a MA in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy from Goldsmiths (University of London), which helped me been involved in what I'm most interested in: social justice, human rights and humanitarian aid.
I oversee the day-to-day running of the UK office, manage the Celebrity Shoe Auction, work with our volunteers, produce content for the website and assist with the different projects.
I particularly like working with Small Steps Project because it means for me the chance of collaborating with two causes that I consider fundamental. On the one hand, help kids to develop a life out of the dumps where they can fully enjoy their rights as kids, where they can study, play and live safely. And also fight against the massive production of waste in favour of a greener and less polluted world that takes care of the land and recycles properly, allowing people such as the families Small Steps works with, to work legally on the recycling industry.
I joined the board of Small Steps Project in 2017.
I'm a corporate lawyer based in London, with over 7 years of experience working in both private practice and in-house roles.
After hearing about the plight of children living and working in abject poverty on rubbish dumps throughout the world, with no access to basic amenities: shelter, adequate food, hygiene facilities, access to healthcare or education, I was keen to get involved.
I am aware that as a UK registered charity, it is important for us to show both transparency and best practice, as well as safeguarding the charity and its donors so that they can focus on delivering the best possible care to the children.
As a trustee, I hope that my legal and commercial experience will assist Small Steps Project with its tireless work to provide children with their immediate needs on the dump and with hope for a brighter future.
I've been working in the events industry for over 15 years and run my own events management company, Plain Jane Events. Over the years I have seen a huge amount of ‘bespoke' theming being thrown away instead of recycled or up-cycled. I decided very quickly that this was something I wanted to try to avoid in my own business. When I heard about the Small Steps Project, I was inspired by their work and saw it as a great cause to get involved with. At the same time, I make every effort to minimise the amount of waste generated by the event industry, through my day job!
As Events Manager for Small Steps, I organise all aspects of the yearly fundraising event - the Small Steps Project Celebrity Shoe Auction. Alongside an amazing team of volunteers, I sort out everything from venue and catering, entertainment and ticketing, to creating new and exciting ways to display our celebrity shoes.
Having travelled to Cambodia with the charity in 2012 to help with two dump projects, I have seen first-hand the impact our Western waste has on the families living there. Children's lives are taken up with scavenging for plastic bottles and tin cans to sell for no more than a few pennies. The Small Steps Project offers a way out for these children, getting them off the dumps and into school and hopefully onto a better life. If my contribution can save just one child from a life on the dump, it will be worth it
I have known about and supported Amy's work in building up this charity from the very beginning and, like her, have been shocked to discover how many children work and live on rubbish dumps, often from a very young age. I am impressed with her determination to help scavenger children and her success in doing so and raising the profile of these neglected communities.
Having spent 25 years teaching and 30 as a Journalist, often writing about social problems and inequality, I am outraged at the way in which these children are forced to live and I want to help them off the dumps and into education and a better life. I have become more involved as the charity has grown, and become more established and effective. I try to use my platform as a columnist and freelance features writer to help raise the profile of the charity. I also help with publicity, writing and editing as well as advising on projects.
I became a trustee of Small Steps Project in the Spring of 2017. My background is in civil engineering and in management, ranging across areas from renewable energy to transport.
My first contact with Small Steps was while I was in Cambodia, where I supported and helped to organise a dental project led by my wife, which saw all 50 children from the dump project have much needed dental checks and referrals for any further care.
After that, I worked on a funding application for the provision of clean water for the Takhmao project in Cambodia, and subsequently travelled out there, where I noticed the issues the children were facing, particularly the vital need for fresh, clean water to improve their hygiene and health.
I realised the importance of the work that Small Steps Project was carrying out in enabling the children to reach the standards of cleanliness required to get out of the dump and into education. It was great to see the real difference that the charity's work is making to the children's lives and to the lives of their parents, by giving them chance of a better future.
As a trustee I hope that my skills and experience in these areas can provide practical help and add to the breadth of knowledge within the organisation.
In my time as the Managing Director of Sellebrity
from 2012 - 2016 I'm incredibly proud to say we raised over a million pounds auctioning celebrity items and experiences and hosting events for charities. I'm currently developing other companies including Smileaway and Head Held High, but when I left the third sector I realised that Small Steps Project was a special charity I just couldn't walk away from.
This small project had a huge character and integrity that really touched me. I was blown away by the passion for the cause shown by the CEO Amy Hanson, which filtered down to her hard-working team. In the years we managed the Celebrity Shoe Auction at SellebrityI saw the funds raised make rapid changes to children's lives before my very eyes. I was immediately struck by photographs on their office walls - kiddies who were filthy, dejected and scavenging on rubbish dumps. I'm an adoptive mother and I recognised the vulnerability hidden beneath the eyes of these children, living in the hopeless stench. The following year I saw new photographs of those very same children pinned on the Small Steps Project office walls. Smiling children with clean feet and faces, school books underarm and hope in their hearts.
Here was a hands-on charity making a real difference.
I'm now a Trustee at Small Steps Project and help with all aspects of celebrity support. Having managed the world famous Celebrity Shoe Auction for several years in the past, I'm here to support Small Steps Project on this very special annual international event and more.
Finally, are you a high profile person reading this? A single pair of your shoes will give a child hope and a future. Hand them over and walk away... knowing you've changed a young life forever.
Jenny PuddingtonCelebrity Shoe
I joined Small Steps Project in November 2015 as a Celebrity Liaison Volunteer. As well as helping to obtain celebrity shoes for the auction, I assist with sorting out the office and the filing, and do proof reading. With a background in languages, I have worked on conferences and events, in graduate recruitment, and in business with the former USSR, and I have volunteered in a big London hospital and for another large UK charity. I applied to Small Steps because I wanted to volunteer for a smaller, international organisation where I could be involved in many different activities.
I am very impressed with the scope and dynamism of Small Steps Project, and the fact that this small organisation helps so many people. There are no middle-men here: every last penny goes directly towards helping the families who live on the dumps, and working here has made me acutely aware of how people's lives can be changed by seemingly small things, like shoes, school and showers – things that we take for granted in our affluent Western society, and conversely how they can be impacted by the lack of them. Small Steps Project really helps people to take big steps in life.
Kayly Quinn GrañaCelebrity Shoe Volunteer
I started at Small Steps Project in June 2017, expecting to do a short work-placement as part of my journalism degree at Goldsmiths University, and taking on the duties as a ‘Celebrity Shoe Liaison'. Little did I know that I was going to find such an amazing team of people that would provide me with all the opportunities and tools necessary for me to learn and grow, both in my career and as a person.
I decided to join the Small Steps team because human rights is one of the main reasons I wanted to become a journalist, so it's an honour for me to start my career in such a great organisation.
When I saw ‘Children of the Dump' a documentary made by Small Steps following one of the children we help in Cambodia, I realised the importance of this issue, and it makes me happy everyday to think that my work helps those children and their families achieve a better life for themselves. I admire Small Steps as an NGO because it not only provides aid, but also solutions for these people to start a better life, and does so by giving people something they love in return for their donations!
I now plan on staying with Small Steps Project as long as I can, and have taken responsibility as Press Officer and Social Media Editor - can I call myself an Instagrammer now?
Small Steps Project is a loving, creative, and difference-making place to work at!
Tabitha JacksonCelebrity Shoe Volunteer
I joined Small Steps Project in June 2017 as a Celebrity Liaison Volunteer. I help facilitate donations by contacting many celebrities' agents, assistants, or managers. I study International Health Management at Imperial College London and also occasionally work as a digital marketing consultant.
When I came across the charity while searching for ways to fill my free time, I was immediately impressed with what they have achieved. It is heartbreaking to think that children and their families have such an awful living situation - yet so amazing that Small Steps is doing so much to help. I feel so inspired by the charity's initiative and willingness to give all they can to these poor people. I am so happy to be a part of the team and to be able to raise awareness for this cause. It is so important to help the less fortunate, and I believe that even the smallest of steps can lead to positive change.
Emma HarrisonCelebrity Shoe Volunteer
Steffan Lemke-ElmsEmergency Aid Co-ordinator
I am the Emergency Aid Co-ordinator for Small Steps Project. I am in charge of all the wellies, shoes and aid logistics and distribution for the Laos, Cambodia and Romania rubbish dumps. I have been in this role since August 2014.
I am also the Managing Director of a small Community Interest Company called Festival Reboot. We specialise in recycling and up-cycling the wellies we collect at festivals. We make a variety of stylish yet simple products out of the broken boots, we then sell these under our brand ‘Reboot’, all profits are then used to expand our recycling capabilities. I am also the Managing Director of a small Community Interest Company called Festival Reboot. We specialise in recycling and up-cycling the wellies we collect at festivals. We make a variety of stylish yet simple products out of the broken boots, we then sell these under our brand ‘Reboot’, all profits are then used to expand our recycling capabilities.
This is a perfect synergy of two organisations, able to use almost 100% of the wellies donated and collected. All the good wellies get put to use for those that desperately need them on rubbish dumps, and the broken ones get recycled, giving them another burst of life. Please feel free to contact me on the email below regarding any questions you have or any donations.