Meet Our Team

Image of Lee Firetto

Lee Firetto

BSc (Hons) Media & an MBA Business Administration

Managing Director

I understand the young people here; I have had my own struggles as a young person, and I remember what it feels like to be completely detached from society. Six years ago, I acquired a little nine-bedroom B&B. I soon recognised the high demand for accommodation and grew quickly, purchasing, building and developing a portfolio of three B&Bs. Now with 50 rooms and a large collection of serviced apartments, I want The Beehive Project to be a positive support network that offers real opportunities. I consider all the young people that pass through our service to be part of my extended family. I want to be a role model for them; I work hard, and my hospitality venues are successful. If I can share some of my success with them and help them achieve success of their own, then I will feel that I have achieved my goal in supporting them.

Kev Lillington Staff Picture

Kev Lillington

Level 5 in Health & Social Care Management and NVQ Assessor

Director of Services

After a successful 23-year career in the HM Forces, I took a change in direction to follow my passion for helping those who may be less fortunate than myself. I have always had a calm, caring nature about me to separate any displaying behaviours from a child or young adult. I have always known what I needed to do to help but did not know the reasoning behind it until I started to work within childcare settings.

I have been working with vulnerable people for nearly ten years now, allowing me to manage registered and non-registered services. These include children's residential homes and 16 Plus, semi-Independent living services. In addition, I have also successfully managed an adult drug and alcohol recovery service within Hampshire.

These different settings have allowed me to see the wants, needs, and challenges of those who find themselves within the care system. It has also allowed me to understand different strategies in the throughput from Residential Children's homes through to Independence and beyond. It has also shown me what lack of specialist, tailored resources there are and why The Beehive Project's ethos and values are so important.

The team at The Beehive Project all invest in these values and ethos and have the passion to genuinely wanting to make a difference, accepting failure, reducing guilt and shame and helping all our young adults reach their full potential.

Jamie staff picture

Jamie Ward

NVQ level 5 Health and Social Care

General Manager

I have been working in care for about 6-7 years now. I started as a social care worker, and I worked my way up to a registered manager of a 12 bed home. I have a wealth of experience within the health and social care field and I am trained in MCA & DOLS, Autism Awareness, COSHH, Person-Centred Care, Safeguarding Children, Safeguarding & Protection of Adults, Clinical Governance, Learning Disabilities, Epilepsy, Mental Health Awareness, Chaperoning and Data Protection.

The day I came into the beehive project I knew I needed to be here, it felt right, and I have never looked back, it is like a big family here. I am passionate about helping young people become who they want to be. It is a personal goal of mine to make sure every young person that comes into our care leaves in a better place mentally and physically than when they arrived.

I am a family man who enjoys days out with my son and fun weekends with my family.

Maria Staff Pic

Maria Wiggins

CACHE Dipolma (nursury nursing) and NVQ Level 5 Management

Team Manager, Parent and Child Lead

I have been working within the early year's sector for twenty-one years within private day nurseries. I had many roles within the nursery,  manager, team leader, designated safeguarding lead, and a key person. Nurturing, guiding and educating young children in their early years between the ages of three months - five years and supporting their families before taking the leap and deciding to enhance my skills in a different field. 

I am a qualified early years practitioner and hold the following qualifications, CACHE Diploma in nursery nursing, Level 3 Safeguarding, Paediatric first aid, NVQ level 4 in childcare & education & Level 5 in Management. 

I joined the Beehive team in November 2020. I am the Parent & Baby manager within the organisation where I am a key person to our young and expectant mothers.

I enjoy working within the Beehive. It is a family-centred organisation, and I am proud to be working as part of the family and flourish in making a difference to each young person within our care. No two days are the same, and I enjoy the spontaneity the role holds but, more importantly, seeing the difference that the Beehive project makes to the individual's life. 

Dr Melanie J. Ashleigh BSc PhD

ACC/BACP Registered

In House Counselor

My aim in wanting to help young vulnerable adults is to give them hope for the future. Sometimes, those who have experienced any kind of loss whether through parenting/abuse/neglect/trauma, these things don’t have to define who they are.  I aim to help young adults to realise that although they cannot change their past, there is always hope for actualising their full potential in life now and for the future

I have a counselling Diploma, which is accredited by the Open College Network (OCN) and the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC). I am also registered with the British Association of Counselling Practitioners (BACP).  I utilise an integrated approach, adopting models such as Egan’s Skilled Helper, Personal Construct Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and the Adapted Crabb Christian counselling model, although I also offer other models of psychotherapy, depending upon the issues to be resolved and the perspective and world view of the client.

Image of Niparat Stewart

Niparat (Nan) Stewart

Hotel Management and Tourism Degree

General Manager

After finishing a degree in Hotel management and tourism in Thailand, Nan spent several years managing hotels and restaurants across South East Asia. Moving to the UK in 2003 she continued her career, managing a large hotel and nightclub in the Midlands for a number of years before taking on the general manager role across our portfolio of B&B’s in central Southampton, owned and operated by The Beehive Projects Director Lee Firetto.

Nan provides the link between both organisations. Many of our Young People positioned in The Beehive Project, are offered work experience, leading to part time jobs, across various roles in our sister company, from maintenance, to receptionist, to housekeeping. Nan is tolerant of their attendance and work ethic as often our young people need more than one chance to develop the correct mentality to manage a job.

Alongside running three B&B’s and supporting our Young People Nan is also raising two children single hand-idly … How she finds the time we will never know!

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Rhiannon Woolford

Law LLB Hon's

Senior Support Worker

I recognise that looked-after, and vulnerable young people have difficulty finding appropriate accommodation and support to prepare for independence and move into adulthood. I had my own challenges as a teenager therefore I know how easy it can be to fall into a path that is not positive or beneficial. That is why I feel this organisation is so important and why I want to be a part of it. I am not too far off the age of some of the young adults here, which makes me approachable. Because I can relate to their situation, I can help them focus on opportunities. I graduated in 2019 with a 1st in Law at Solent University, where Child and Family Law were of a great interest to me. I try to encourage our young people to go back into education and help them with that process, as well as enabling them to get into work if further education isn’t for them.

Ani staff pic

Anifat (Ani) Afolabi

BSc Economics - University of Greenwich 2009

Office Manager

I understand what it means to be alone and separated from the society, I had my own struggle as a young immigrant, finding it difficult to settling in. I have worked with small organisations who help feed and provide short accommodations for young persons and the vulnerable, which is what attracted me to The Beehive Project and makes me want to be part of it.

I graduated from the University of Greenwich in 2008 with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Economics. I have worked in various industries including the care industry. I am passionate about working for The Beehive Project because of its passion to build a stable, positive, and successful life for all.

Gabriela Team picture

Gabriela Cristea

Level 6 Business and Healthcare Management

Quality and Compliance Officer

My formal background is in Hospitality Management, but I discovered my passion for Healthcare three years ago when I entered the industry. I specialised in policies and procedures, ensuring that our service users received the highest quality of care. 
At the moment, I’m undertaking my BSc in Business and Healthcare management. My personal goal is to have a positive impact on the life of every individual I come across. At The Beehive Project, I feel I have been given a chance to act on this. 
The support system we build around our young people is the living proof of our hard work and dedication as a team, and I’m proud to be involved in this unique process! 

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