Meet the team

Kindling Trust Team

Co-founder & Co-ordinator

Helen co-founded Kindling in 2007 from a background in grassroots environmental and community activism. She was instrumental in raising £4 million to develop and eco-refit Bridge 5 Mill, a 150 year-old former Silk Mill that Kindling now calls home. 

For Helen, Kindling is another crucial way to tackle “the unjust and damaging nature of the current system”. Something she did in spades whilst accompanying human rights defenders during her year with the Peace Brigades International; for which she was jointly awarded the International Service Human Rights Award for Women.

In preparation for Kindling's planned farm, Helen’s building on her MSc in Organic Farming by developing her practical growing experience at our Woodbank growing site.

Co-founder & Co-ordinator

Chris is an accomplished social entrepreneur and has helped establish two of Manchester’s biggest and best-loved social enterprises; Bridge 5 Mill eco-centre (along with co-founder Helen) and Fairfield Environment Services. He then went on to co-found Kindling in 2007, when "a group of like-minded people came together to explore solutions to our increasingly industrialised food system and the health and economic inequities it produces.”

Chris also sits on the working groups for the Enlightened Agriculture Fund and Sustain’s Waste Management Social Enterprise group, and was a Trustee of the Real Farming Trust. He is a director of Bridge 5 Mill and is a Trustee of the Fairfield Environment Trust, which supports organisations making Greater Manchester greener, healthier and more equitable.

Officer Manager

As the The Kindling Trust’s new office manager, Amy can usually be found at our headquarters at Bridge 5 Mill, responding to all your veg related queries over the phone and via the website.

She brings a unique skill set to the trust, through experience in business and event management, as well as working with various refugee communities around Europe with Manchester City of Sanctuary, Bridge to Africa and Care 4 Calais.

Amy is super friendly, ultra organised and passionate about supporting disadvantaged communities, which makes her a brilliant new addition to The Kindling Trust and Bridge 5 Mill. 

FarmStart Co-ordinator

As our FarmStart Coordinator, Helen works with aspiring organic growers at Woodbank’s FarmStart site, supporting them to develop the many skills needed to become competent and able growers. 

Helen is passionate about food growing and creating environments that inspire and support positive learning experiences. She has over 20 years’ of growing experience, gained through juggling a myriad of roles; from running courses and training, setting up community growing spaces with The Federation of City Farms and Gardens and managing an Eco Centre. 

Communications Officer

With a longstanding interest in the environment, Luke decided to combine his personal and professional interests by joining us as our Communications Officer. Passionate about playing his part to help in the face of the climate emergency, Luke aims to spread the word when it comes to the wonderful work being done by all the staff and volunteers that make up The Kindling Trust.

Luke’s professional background is largely in marketing and communications; having made a conscious, concerted effort to step away from the private sector back in 2018 - despite not having another job lined up at the time! - he followed up this experience by volunteering with a small youth charity in the North West. Several months later, he began working for a social care provider in Stockport before taking on a role with a charity offering a social action programme to young people in secondary schools.

Wellbeing Coordinator

Rachel has worked as a project coordinator for the NHS and Third Sector organisations for the last 12 years. She has worked with a focus on creative arts and horticulture within health and wellbeing as well as informal education. She is passionate about all things growing, and completed RHS level 2 in garden design and maintenance. She wants to continue to learn more about organic gardening and food growing - she is learning lots on her allotment, which is her second home. She hopes to do more training in this area in the future. 

Community Programme Coordinator

Naomi comes from a community arts engagement background but has since steered her engagement work to being around nature and the environment and has worked for the RSPB and Cheshire Wildlife Trust in the last 3 years. She has a passion for making accessible opportunities to connect with nature, the environment, and sustainable food. 

Naomi is a self proclaimed nature nerd and you will often find her staring up at a tree or building trying to identify the tiny bird, or down on the floor at a funny angle trying to get a good picture of yet another mushroom. She lives in Stockport and in her spare time enjoys hiking and wild swimming in the peaks with her family dog, spending time with her 2 year old niece, cooking and baking delicious, elaborate meals, and tending to her Edgeley ‘Yarden’! 

Kindling Trust Directors

Emily brings vast experience from a different sector to Kindling, having worked for nearly twenty years in the NHS, fifteen of those as a GP in East London. She has extensive experience of working within disadvantaged and deprived communities, has taught refugee doctors preparing them for exams to enable them to work in the UK and has worked with torture survivors at Freedom from Torture.

She has completed an MSc in Global Public Health and Policy with a focus on health and climate change, worked for The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare as the clinical programme’s deputy director, and is currently a practicing GP.

Debs divides her time between Kindling and Manchester's Unicorn Grocery, the worker co-operative where she has been a member and director since 2004. There she oversees the organisation’s communications, community engagement & marketing output, as well as working daily on the shop floor.  Debs brings to Kindling “a passion and belief in the power of co-operation, particularly when it comes to our food supply”, and has gained an international perspective on the subject, spending three months with food co-ops in North America as part of her Winston Churchill Fellowship.

Helen co-founded Kindling in 2007 from a background in grassroots environmental and community activism. She was instrumental in raising £4 million to develop and eco-refit Bridge 5 Mill, a 150 year-old former Silk Mill that Kindling now calls home. 

For Helen, Kindling is another crucial way to tackle “the unjust and damaging nature of the current system”. Something she did in spades whilst accompanying human rights defenders during her year with the Peace Brigades International; for which she was jointly awarded the International Service Human Rights Award for Women.

In preparation for Kindling's planned farm, Helen’s building on her MSc in Organic Farming by developing her practical growing experience at our Woodbank growing site.

Chris is an accomplished social entrepreneur and has helped establish two of Manchester’s biggest and best-loved social enterprises; Bridge 5 Mill eco-centre (along with co-founder Helen) and Fairfield Environment Services. He then went on to co-found Kindling in 2007, when "a group of like-minded people came together to explore solutions to our increasingly industrialised food system and the health and economic inequities it produces.”

Chris also sits on the working groups for the Enlightened Agriculture Fund and Sustain’s Waste Management Social Enterprise group, and was a Trustee of the Real Farming Trust. He is a director of Bridge 5 Mill and is a Trustee of the Fairfield Environment Trust, which supports organisations making Greater Manchester greener, healthier and more equitable.

Kindling Farm Directors

Helen co-founded Kindling in 2007 from a background in grassroots environmental and community activism. She was instrumental in raising £4 million to develop and eco-refit Bridge 5 Mill, a 150 year-old former Silk Mill that Kindling now calls home. 

For Helen, Kindling is another crucial way to tackle “the unjust and damaging nature of the current system”. Something she did in spades whilst accompanying human rights defenders during her year with the Peace Brigades International; for which she was jointly awarded the International Service Human Rights Award for Women.

In preparation for Kindling's planned farm, Helen’s building on her MSc in Organic Farming by developing her practical growing experience at our Woodbank growing site.

Chris is an accomplished social entrepreneur and has helped establish two of Manchester’s biggest and best-loved social enterprises; Bridge 5 Mill eco-centre (along with co-founder Helen) and Fairfield Environment Services. He then went on to co-found Kindling in 2007, when "a group of like-minded people came together to explore solutions to our increasingly industrialised food system and the health and economic inequities it produces.”

Chris also sits on the working groups for the Enlightened Agriculture Fund and Sustain’s Waste Management Social Enterprise group, and was a Trustee of the Real Farming Trust. He is a director of Bridge 5 Mill and is a Trustee of the Fairfield Environment Trust, which supports organisations making Greater Manchester greener, healthier and more equitable.

Stu has worked in the organic food and farming sector for over 14 years and is currently a grocer at Unicorn Workers Co-op. He has been a grocer for 12 years and spent 8 years in organic horticulture, getting his hands dirty and growing delicious veg! He also spent 2 years developing and working on an organic mixed farm as part of Unicorn Grocery, Moss Brook Growers and Marton Villa Farm respectively.

Stu has a HNC in Organic Horticulture from the Welsh College of Horticulture. He has lots of experience with producing, growing and selling organic veg that he will be putting to good use as Kindling Farm Director and helping with Kindling's future farm plans.

Abi has worked with the John Lewis Partnership as a Democracy Coach for 9 years, working on membership engagement and democratic governance. She has extensive HR experience particularly in management training and employee rights, as well as employee wellbeing. Abi is also a member of the Employee Ownership Association, who are currently working in partnership with Coops UK on #1millionowners. 

Abi spent 6 months on secondment with us at Kindling, helping with the development of our Kindling Farm project, particularly looking at our Community Shares Campaign. As a result, Abi has an in-depth knowledge of the Kindling Farm rules, business plan, membership offer and shares campaign plan, which makes her a perfect fit as one of our Directors!

 

Team Members from our Partners Organisations

Veg Box People and Manchester Veg People co-op member

Amy gets stuck in with the various day to day tasks involved with running Veg Box People, and also writes the weekly newsletter and tries out new recipes to include in them - look out for the Middle Eastern dishes – her fave cuisine. She loves 'providing people with an opportunity to buy their veg directly from the producers in a way that is local, sustainable and fairly priced' and finds inspiration from the fact that so much of it is freshly picked and locally grown.

Manchester Veg People & Veg Box People co-op worker

An Environmental Conservation graduate, Alexx joined the VBP team after spending most of his working life selling wine and beer to the good people of South Manchester, the place he grew up in and still calls home. After opening and then running an independent wine shop in Chorlton it was time for a change, and a lifetime spent digging on allotments and a passion for good, well-sourced food led him to us. Having followed the progress of the Kindling Trust over the last 10 years, Alexx is excited to be involved with an organisation he believes is making a valuable and positive impact on the city he loves, but also contributing to a much wider cause.

 

Veg Box People worker

Solvi started off as a Land Army volunteer back in 2018, and became a regular during the pandemic. Coming from a trade union and cooperative background, she’s always been motivated by finding collective solutions to big problems. Recognising the scale of the ecological crisis, and the work needed to confront it, she turned her attention to the food system. She’s been part of the Green New Deal and National Food Service campaigns, and believes strongly that fostering community resilience is vital for building a more just and ecologically viable society.

Solvi is also a co-founder of Myco: Manchester Mushroom Cooperative, which is seeking to make organic oyster and shiitake mushrooms accessible to people in the same way that the Veg Bag scheme has done for fruit and veg.