The executive directive team within The Hummingbird Project have been working within the Mental Health voluntary sector for over 20 years. We have been providing training, developing programmes and giving support to the mental health family, which has not only provided us with some amazing professional skills, but has also given us an incredible insight into what works to help individuals recover and the struggles individuals may face in accessing quality support.

Executive Team


Leigh Carey – Executive Director
Leigh received her Ba. Hons in Communication in 2003 in Edinburgh and came back home to Northern Ireland in 2004. She has been working since 2007 to help people improve their own circumstances, despite many of them facing difficult environmental and health barriers, through individual mentoring and group training. She has worked on several ground-breaking statutory agency funded programmes in socially deprived areas of the country in the training and voluntary sector. She worked for several years with marginalised young people before specialising in Mental health and wellbeing support in the last 7 years. She has gained thousands of hours of one to one therapeutic support experience and developed a large portfolio of accredited vocational training. She continuously works in partnership with statutory bodies to embrace and promote resilience skills training and recovery focused practices. Leigh founded the Hummingbird Project NI in 2016 to develop new emotional wellbeing solutions that harness lived-experience and CVSE best practice. Contact Leigh at

Jill Huston – Service Operations Lead


Jill graduated from Queens’s University, Belfast in 1993 with a BSc. Hons Psychology. Since then, she has worked in management in the third sector with organisations such as Oxfam and Action Mental Health and in web pioneers such as Nua and Marrakech. She has been involved in designing and delivering training to adults from all backgrounds and is an advocate for life-long learning. Jill brings extensive lived-experience of mental health issues to the Hummingbird and has successfully combined this with professional training to work at the forefront of innovation in mental health recovery. As a trained WRAP® facilitator, Jill advocates for recovery and resilience principles in all walks of life. She believes passionately that individuals hold the key to their own emotional wellbeing and has been involved with the development of the unique 3U model used by the organisation. Contact Jill at

James McAleese – Service Development Lead

Jimmy graduated from Queens University Belfast with a BSc Hons in Biology in 1984 and a PhD in Mycology in 1987.  Until 2013 he occupied a number of middle and senior management positions in a large government department, including periods as Deputy Director (Business Development) and Business Learning Manager in Northern Ireland.  Much of this time was dedicated to change management, training, coaching and mentoring graduate trainees and internal talent.


Throughout his career Jimmy has also held various non-executive Board level positions within the voluntary sector, applying his skills to the strategic development and sustainability of arts, faith group, animal welfare and mental health charities.

With decades of personal lived experience of managing a mental health condition, Jimmy has been a strong advocate for recovery-orientated practice in mental healthcare over the last 5 years. He was a member of the project team involved in establishing the highly successful Northern Region Recovery College within mental health services in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.  A trained WRAP® facilitator, he has also helped to co-produce and co-facilitate a broad range of other mental health workshops within the college’s prospectus.

He was most recently employed as a Peer Support Worker in an acute admissions psychiatric ward and has acted as an adviser to The Hummingbird Project CIC for several years before taking up a formal Board position in 2018.