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.
Thomas PhillipsManaging Director
I've been a part of Small Steps Project since its inception, initially writing and producing the music for the first documentary and then, as the project grew, I became a trustee and was involved not only with the production of the documentaries but with governance, strategy, our online activities and fundraising.
I now oversee the day-to-day running of the UK office. Having been a trustee for seven years I have a good understanding and overview of all our various operations and am able to ensure that the charity is meeting its objectives.
I continue to manage our online and digital strategy, produce content for the website, write music for our films and to photograph our projects and our fundraising events.
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.
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.
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 am a retired GP and became aware and a great admirer of Small Steps through a personal contact. The simple and stark message of need and the exciting and innovative way that Small Steps sets about to meet that need made me want to contribute.
I have a long standing involvement with Tanzania, having been a VSO volunteer doctor there and worked in 'Child Spacing' in Dar es Salaam. I have travel widely in developing countries visiting health projects. I continued to work for VSO as a selector for 16 years. I also chaired Nafsiyatr, the Intercultural Therapy Centre in Islington for 10 years. I am currently Chair of The British Shalom-Salaam Trust, which makes grants to group in Israel and Palestine who challenge oppression , injustice and disadvantage, addressing a wide range of human rights, education, health and social care.
Through all this I have become familiar with how charities function. I am used used to evaluating projects and have the back ground and medical knowledge to bring these evaluations to Small Steps.
That children and families are forced to scavenge on dumps in order to survive is scandalous. Equally scandalous is that this happens in so many countries in virtually every corner of the world. So, I am shocked by the need for an organisation like Small Steps Project, but I am equally impressed by the service that Small Steps provides and by the results that it achieves. Its ambition is simple – to support to those forced into such conditions to move towards education and employment. I am impressed, too, by Small Steps’ ability to spend as much as possible on achieving those aims, rather than on administration.
I am the treasurer of a charity that makes grants to projects that support human rights, education, health and anti-poverty programmes and those that challenge oppression and injustice in Palestine and Israel. Through this I have gained a good insight into evaluating projects and gauging aspects of projects that will enhance their success. I also have a good overview of issues relating to charity governance.
I have gained a good deal of business acumen, having worked in finance and IT for some 25 years. We must use some of the same techniques in order to ensure that the focus of Small Steps must always be on the kids that we help.
By using practices that I have gained in both business and charity environments, I intend to ensure that Small Steps continues meet its objectives.
Mey, Raksmey ChangProject Coordinator/Translator
I am a Nursery Teacher and I have worked on all of the Small Steps Projects in Cambodia since the very first project on Stung Meanchey Dump in Phnom Penh and also featured in the documentary. I myself grew up on that dump and as a child and teenager worked as a scavenger and lived on the dump. Then I attended partner NGO Pour un Souriere d'Enfant in Phnom Penh.
I returned to the dump for the first time as an adult in 2009 with Amy, who I met through Amnesty International. I devised the first project based on my own experiences and needs from living and working on the dump myself. It was incredibly important for me to return there and help others, as I truly understand the hardship that is faced by scavengers. The most emotional part for me was seeing adults still working on the dump who had been my age, when I was there as a child.
Since the first project I have worked on every project in Cambodia with Small Steps, in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville as well as Phnom Penh not only as a project coordinator but also as a translator for all the documentaries.
It is very rewarding to be able to work on the dumps and inspire the children that change is possible through education, as they can see that I am living proof of that.
Claire Knapton JamesFundraiser
Jenny PuddingtonCelebrity Shoe Coordinator Volunteer
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.
Juanita PetersCelebrity Shoe Coordinator Volunteer
Hi! My name is Juanita and I volunteer as a Celebrity Liaison Officer for Small Steps Project. I contact celebrity donors and help arrange and coordinate their shoes for the annual celebrity shoe auction as well as maintain the Charity's social media channels.
I was first introduced to Small Steps back in 2014 when I saw a celebrity tweet about their shoes. I found out more about the Charity and was really impressed and inspired by the work they did for children across the globe through this one item we sometimes take for granted. Before joining Small Steps, I worked with the NHS and had volunteered at various other organisations, the most recent being at a homeless shelter.
For me, it is really important to give back in whichever way possible.After watching a couple of videos Small Steps Project created, I was deeply moved by the hardships that children living off landfill sites, and their families, face on daily basis. Working with the charity has opened my eyes to this and since joining, I've become more involved in trying to use my skills to help raise awareness and provide a voice to those who have none.
Ben CôtéFundraising Events Volunteer