Carla Raynes is the CEO at Bridge It. She founded Bridge It in 2021 to address the urgent need for safe, affordable housing in Melbourne. Prior to this Carla co-founded and managed Home Share Melbourne (now Bridge It’s Homes Connect program) which was launched in 2017. She has worked in the homelessness field for 17 years, both in the UK and in Australia and her experience spans across a number of different settings, including working within crisis accommodations, drug and alcohol teams, tertiary hospital and youth residential units.
Carla is committed to trialling and applying creative approaches to homelessness in order to find sustainable solutions. She believes that the focus should be on creating homes and increasing connection.
Carla is originally from England and moved over to Australia in 2010. Carla is a mother of two to 2-year-old, Billie, and recently born Ted. She lives in the South-eastern suburbs with her family and dog, Layla. Carla loves to travel, walk, and explore.
Kate Mackenzie is the Team Leader at Bridge It. She has been working in the homelessness sector since 2017 as a social worker. Having worked at Vincent Care and the St Kilda Crisis Contact Centre, she has an in-depth understanding of the service sectors in Victoria, as well as challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness.
Kate is passionate about critical applications of social work that seek to address broader social injustices, as opposed to focusing on individualised issues. In her work with clients, Kate is experienced in employing strength-based and solution-focused approaches, and aims to always provide flexible, creative, and client-centred support.
Kate lives in Melbourne’s inner north with her partner. She has studied art history, and in her spare time enjoys making music, spending time with friends, reading, and drawing.
Jenna Wilson works across Bridge It’s three programs. She is particularly focused on supporting people who are living with mental health conditions. Jenna also supports the mentors at both The Cocoon and The Sanctuary. Jenna played a key role in the development of Bridge It.
Jenna has worked in the disability and homelessness field for over 15 years. She is a qualified counsellor with a strong passion for mental health and recovery-focused practice. She has previously worked for Homes Connect (previously known as Home Share Melbourne), and worked in mental health rehabilitation and inpatient mental health wards.
Her approach is focused on recovery centred practice, and she believes that all individuals have the ability to heal and recover from trauma. Jenna has never-ending energy when it comes to ensuring that people’s rights are observed. She feels that people in Western society are experiencing a “community wound” caused by a disconnected way of living and increased technology use. Jenna believes that connecting to others is key to recovery and better health and wellbeing.
When Jenna is not at Bridge It, she enjoys nature, walks with her husband, Jake, and their dog, JoJo, yoga, kinesiology, and drinking tea.
Ollie Bates is Bridge It’s Housing Coordinator, he is a passionate social worker with 5-years’ experience, based in Melbourne. Ollie’s experience lies predominantly in the crisis/homelessness sector, currently working with some of Victoria’s most at-risk young people. Ollie has worked as an after-hours support worker and as a case manager for a number of different homelessness services in Melbourne. Ollie also has experience working in mental health and for services specific to supporting people seeking asylum.
Ollie is committed to supporting people in our community to find and establish a place that they can call home. Ollie is proud to be part of an organisation that prides itself on developing creative solutions to existing problems in Victoria’s housing sector.
Ollie is originally from London and migrated to Australia in 2010. Ollie now lives with his fiancé and his greyhound, Olive, in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Ollie is very passionate about music and plays a number of instruments and records in his spare time. He also loves travelling, good food, and exercise.
Sage Leslie works as a Housing Coordinator at Bridge It. Prior to this, she worked as a Specialist Family Violence Advocate at Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS). Here, she was part of the Universal Services Team working alongside Maternal and Child Health Nurses as well as providing Family Violence consultation to two schools in the Outer East of Melbourne. Sage has Bachelor of Psychological Sciences and a Master’s degree in Counselling.
Sage approaches work with an intersectional feminist lens, working with Respect and in collaboration with clients, ensuring they are at the centre of their own decision making.
Outside of work, Sage enjoys exploring parts of Victoria (whether camping or a nice little AirBnb), hanging out with her beloved Cat (Theodora – ‘Dora’), reading, listening to spooky podcasts or watching D-Grade Horror films.
Samantha (Sam) Jones is our Peer Support Mentor. Sam has lived experience of mental ill health which is imperative to have as a Peer Mentor. Before becoming unwell, Sam worked in Business Development. Now, she works as a consumer consultant at Alfred Health, and an inpatient Peer Worker at a psychiatric hospital as well as peer mentor here at Bridge-it.
Her main passion is to support others through challenges that mental ill health throws at us. She’s dedicated to showing others that it can be possible to live a good life despite health set backs. Sam is open about sharing her story with others if it’s helpful and aids some form of inspiration.
In her spare time, Sam runs a weekly psychosocial art group and loves hanging out with friends at the weekend. Art is a huge interest of hers, and she also enjoys music and playing guitar (albeit self-proclaimed badly!) Before the pandemic, Sam loved travelling and new adventures. Making new friends and having new adventures are her biggest passions in life.
Kathryn Goldsmith is Bridge It’s Bookkeeper. Kathryn has over 30-years’ experience in accounting and bookkeeping, including 15 years running her own business. Her clients span various industries and include many not-for-profit associations.
Kathryn loves working with Bridge It and being part of an organisation that is changing people’s lives for the better.
In her spare time, you will find Kathryn crocheting, scrapbooking, gardening, or beekeeping!
Erin Wallis is the Communications Officer at Bridge It. Erin has a background in advertising and has worked in or around communications for over 10 years. She also works as a business consultant to social enterprises. Erin has expertise in assisting businesses with their problems and opportunities, whilst writing about and sharing their stories.
Erin’s approach to work is thoughtful, insightful, and focused on building good relationships. She is driven by a sense of empathy, curiosity, and seeking to deeply understand others.
When Erin is not at work, you will find her in her veggie garden, or on a hike with her partner, Adrian, and dog, Ponyo.
Lee Ridder is our voluntary Grants Coordinator. Lee has worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 15 years, most recently Knit One, Give One before Bridge it. Before this, Lee worked in retail property management. Lee has always been passionate about helping others and serving the community. She treats volunteering as a career rather than a hobby. In her spare time, Lee likes to keep up to date with domestic and international current affairs, or cook for her sons who live locally. She’s a lover of Italy after living there for a year as a 21-year-old.
Ryan Stevens is the voluntary Business Manager at Bridge It. Prior to supporting Bridge It, Ryan founded two successful businesses, one in the service and hospitality sector, and the other, a street dog charity. Currently, Ryan uses these skills in the charitable sector to help at-risk people and animals in Australia and abroad.
Ryan seeks to help businesses become more efficient, using technology to streamline processes and make their operations more profitable.
Ryan loves to be kept busy, so in his spare time, he is an avid long-distance mountain hiker, explores far-flung remote locations, rides motorcycles, plays the guitar, draws, and learns new skills. His new skills this year include sourdough bread baking, acquiring his truck driving license, and starting a business qualification.