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Staff Bios

Matthew Houghton – Founder

I had one teacher in school that I got on with, he pushed me in his lessons and his lessons were enjoyable. I try to use the same style in my sessions with young people I get to know quickly. There was a really positive youth worker as well who worked with all my mates at the time and got the most out of us and got us involved in things other than football.

I bring a lot of experience having worked at HYPE since 2008 working in many different communities across the Wirral and Liverpool and have worked with literally thousands of young people.

As a teenager when hanging out with my mates, Police were constantly moving us from street corners and out of parks. Having park projects and youth clubs locally would have given me more options to get more involved in positive activities.

David Huyton – Head Youth Co-ordinator

Dave has worked as a teacher in secondary schools in Birkenhead since 1997. His background as PE Teacher and in Behavioural Management has enabled him to develop a range of extensive projects for young people within HYPE. As HYPE’s safeguarding officer he works closely with our dedicated team of staff, schools and partner organisations. 

Dave has experience working with young people in USA. China and South Africa. 

Dave is HYPE’s Youth Club Co-coordinator and overseas all delivery, staffing and administration at our youth clubs throughout the year. He provides our team of staff and volunteers mentoring in youth leadership, safeguarding and risk management. 

Maddie Maloney- Art Assistant

As a child, I was most inspired by my mum because she always pushed me to follow my interests, which have always been around the subject of art. When I was little, I mostly practised fine art, in the traditional media of drawing and painting, but with my mum’s support and guidance my interests have developed and my main area of interest is now mixed media, 3D and textiles. My mum played a big part in helping to provide me with the materials and opportunities at home and through extracurricular clubs to carry on doing what I loved right through to college and after.

I have studied art throughout my GSCEs, A level and have recently completed my foundation course in Fine Art at Birkenhead Sixth Form College. My art skills and passion for working with young people has encouraged me to learn new methods and skills which I will use to encourage young people to discover art, and find new creative ways in which they can express themselves.

Having an organisation like HYPE would have been a great opportunity for me to gain confidence and bring out the best in my skills outside of school. The opportunities presented by HYPE would have pushed me to branch out in my techniques at a younger age, and it would have been a great place to go after school, rather than going straight home.

Lisa Littlewood –  Primary Schools Teacher

Growing up, I was an avid vinyl collector and aspiring DJ. I was inspired by DJs in the Scottish club scene, notably Glasgow DJs such as Slam who had started small, set up their own nights and festivals, then took that success and went on to producing music, their own record label and were playing around the world. 

After sending Matt my CV, he identified my role as a DJ and radio presenter which could help build confidence and hone the professional presenting skills of the staff on the team. I used my experience in staff development to help crystallise their goals and objectives as well as helping them play to their strengths within the company. As a primary teacher my knowledge of curriculum development would help the team devise relevant and stimulating enterprise projects and resources for our involvement with schools.

If HYPE had been around when I was growing up, it would have been brilliant to have opportunities to meet and work with young adults and peers who could help me recognise and develop skills I had that lay outside of the traditional educational setting.

Julie Jones – Arts and Crafts Lead Worker

As a child I was inspired by my grandma, auntie and mum as they all baked/cooked and loved to make cakes. So I would get involved as much as I could and loved it. They would take me to demonstrations of fancy cake decoration events and this inspired me to sell novelty cakes when I was in my late teens. I still make them for family and friends’ birthdays.

Being apart of HYPE has allowed me to share some of these skills with the children in the youth clubs; baking, cooking and projects like the Christmas cake gifts. I also am quite arty and have an A level in Art so I am always doing art and craft with the children most sessions. What’s great about HYPE is it provides a club that allows the children to ask what they want to do and we make it happen. If there was a club like HYPE when I was young It would have benefited me a great deal as I was quite shy and it brings the best out of children especially when taking part talent shows and seeing all the great art work and baking they do.

It makes my day when I see the kids are really proud of themselves with what they achieve. It would have built my confidence being part of a HYPE youth club as a youngster as it does with a lot of the children I work with. I hope sharing skills I have learnt myself inspires some kids to carry on in the future to enjoy baking and art etc.

Liam Jones- Outdoor Space Co-ordinator

No one in particular inspired me when I was young, so there was definitely a gap in the market for a youth organisation like HYPE. My main priorities were my spending time with my friends and family. I grew up enjoying going out with mates on evenings and weekends.

I’m learning a lot on the job and am grateful for what HYPE has taught me so far. This summer I have done a lot of work with NCS on our various ‘hands on’ social action projects, and have led various gardening projects in Woodchurch, New Ferry and Birkenhead Park. I know how to operate equipment safely, and enjoy teaching the local kids gardening skills.

HYPE inspires young people everywhere across Merseyside, and I know if I was a young person growing up in this area today, I would have loved to be a part of it.

Jack Webb – Community Youth Worker

As a youngster my dad inspired me, as he always believed in my decisions and me no matter whether he thought they where right or wrong. He always tried to push me to achieve the best I could.

Before starting at HYPE I had worked with children through football as a coach and also in primary schools. As I enjoy playing sports and keeping active I would be able to help young people stay fit and try new sports.

I would have benefitted from HYPE when I was young, as it would have created a safe environment with familiar faces. It would have kept me from hanging around the streets and given me the chance to try out new activities.

Laura Martin – Life Coach and Secondary Schools Mentor

Mrs Murphy my primary school teacher, she showed great compassion towards every child in our class and made each and everyone of us feel special.

I can bring health, fitness and well-being coaching to young people and the team at HYPE. HYPE helps massively by being part of an active local community, helping young people gain qualifications and find support to enhance their skills & experience, which of course helps improve the chances of getting a job.

Leonardo Magnani – Project Manager

Leonardo is Project Manager at HYPE. Leonardo has strong experience in managing international projects, including international mobilities. Leonardo has studied at the University of Padua, Italy, as well as in Brazil and Germany. 

“I started volunteering with HYPE because I was really interested in the changes that HYPE brings in young people’s lives by improving the community. Now I am happy to collaborate in the designing of local and international projects to support young people everywhere” Leonardo is project manager at HYPE. Leonardo has strong experience in managing international projects, including international mobilities. Leonardo has studied at the University of Padua, Italy, as well as in Brazil and Germany. 


Harry Deijnan

I first got involved with HYPE in October 2017 when I took part in a volunteering project in Cape Town, where we went into disadvantaged schools and taught and coached underprivileged children. That opportunity taught me a huge amount from fundraising for the trip, to the skills and knowledge I gained over there. The trip developed my teamwork and confidence and changed my outlook on life and made me more aware of the world around us and how much of an impact we can have. 

After returning from Cape Town I continued to work with HYPE to further develop and use the experience gained and also try to give some positive back into the local community via coaching & volunteer work. 

In April 2018 I was invited to be part of HYPE’s inaugural Social Action project in New York in collaboration with World Merit; this trip involved visiting several parks such as Central Park and Prospect Park to see how we can better utilise green spaces to benefit local communities as part of the UN Sustainable Goals. We also spent time New York Conservancy’s ROOTS Programme, learning about conservation and planting trees with them.  From this trip I have since been involved in similar activities in local parks such as Birkenhead Park to raise the same awareness in our immediate community.

In summary HYPE has raised my awareness of conserving the environment and helping communities, and I have developed existing skills as well as discovering new ones and I would urge anyone wanting to make a difference driving social change and making changes in communities both locally & globally to get involved.

Daniel Cavanagh

When I was younger I was inspired by my cousin who was 7 years older than me. He always told me stories from his exciting adventures. He was always doing things I was interested in from camping and rock climbing/ abseiling to joining the Air cadets and completing his Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold award. He also returned from Camp America with pen pals for me to write letters to until I was old enough to participate in the program myself at aged 18. I always looked up to him and mirrored lots of his experiences which helped me realise I had a strong passion for adventure.

I have surprised myself with the progress I have made since I started volunteering for HYPE. I have ran youth club sessions, participated in social action projects in Merseyside  parks, built bike tracks, ran bike clubs in schools. Completed courses and gained numerous qualifications. I’m looking forward to delivering more mentoring sessions in 2019 with HYPE and continue to grow the HYPE Urban Bikes project.

Ross Mackin – Community Sports Coach

I’ve always admired my football coaches. From a young age I was always brought up to respect people and thank them for their time. As I got older, I started to appreciate this more and more. Coaches often are volunteers. A small number make a profession out of coaching. My coaches gave up a huge amount of time for me and my teammates and would do anything in the drop of a heartbeat. 

When I was 16, I started coaching voluntarily. I took my own under 9 football team. It wasn’t until then I understood the answer to my question. It is the most rewarding experience seeing someone admire you so much. As a coach you are some people’s role models, teacher, best friend and many more. As a coach we have a superpower to makes peoples lives better through sport and it is the most rewarding thing to have experienced. I thank my football coaches for being my role models and leading me on the pathway to getting into coaching.

Throughout my life sports has been my everything. It was a place you could truly express yourself. Growing up I was always out on the street and there was next to nothing to do to apart from play football. There were no opportunities like HYPE around at the time.

Matthew Johnston – Arts Coordinator

I was truly inspired by several teachers throughout my life, who took the time to influence and guide me through each learning curve or obstacle that I needed to face whilst growing up.

These teachers taught me about respect, honesty and the value in working hard. I was very fortunate to have had such strong role models in my life who also taught me the importance of morality and integrity. These life skills are essential and have shaped who I am now as an adult. 

I have always been very passionate about the creative arts, as well as motivating young adults through the knowledge, enthusiasm and care that I can share with them. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Design and have recently completed my Teacher training this year which has given me a variety of experiences teaching in England and Cambodia. 

HYPE is a wonderful organisation that really gives young people the opportunity to express themselves, to build new friendships and become apart of a community. If HYPE was around when I was young, I would have greatly appreciated the experiences and skills that I could have learnt. 

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