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A space at our table: Introducing our Board of Directors and Recruiting a Chair

Updated: 5 days ago

As our community and impact grows, we are taking steps to ensure we have a solid foundation to build our organisation from. We've restructured our team, by bringing some of our yoga teaching staff members into co-director positions, and have also recruited new non-executive board members. We now have one more spot to fill...


In July we met as a Board for the first time, and, naturally, introduced ourselves. I'm so impressed by the range of experience we bring to the table as a team; there is so much energy and forward momentum which is now the driving force behind our CIC. I wanted to share that here. So, in our own words, I present our current Board of Directors:


Ellie Firth: My background is in research around developmental disorders, Autism and Special Needs. I am very knowledgeable, experienced around this group of additional needs and developing Yoga programs for their needs. I set up Umbrella to expand western Yoga to reach communities who could benefit from Yoga the most. I am new to business and marketing and need to strengthen this skills area. (Ellie is the Founding Director & a Yoga Teacher)

Rachel Gosling: My work life has mainly been in adult social care, elderly care and community mental health. My last role besides Yoga was mental health support. It has always been important for me to be able to give people the opportunity to live their fullest lives.

I have taught Yoga for over 10 years, specialising in women's health, Yoga Therapy, Yoga Nidra, restorative Yoga. Working with Umbrella has allowed these two paths to cross. I feel Umbrella is where I need to be right now. In previous roles I have been a part of planning, report writing, I was on an acute crisis committee. My strengths are around business admin, accounting and marketing. I have provided this service to my own business and for other Yoga teachers. (Rachel is a Co-director and Yoga Teacher)

Pollyanna Steiner: My background is in Community Organising, Campaign Management and social and environmental justice work. I have run community-led campaigns and projects since 2013 and understand the power of collaborative, co-created projects, and activities. I have run engagement campaigns for green energy and arts co-operatives since 2018. I started working for Umbrella in Autumn 2021, I trained with Yoga Campus. I focus on therapeutic benefits of Yoga to deal with chronic fatigue. Yoga is a huge part of adapting to living within a hidden illness. I am drawn to helping others. I have mainly worked as a community organiser. I’ve set up projects and teams of volunteers. I managed 250 volunteers working for Friends of the Earth. My wide experience means I have a wide variety of skills. I’m good at communication, I like writing content, run my own podcast. I’ve done media training and taken on TV, radio and press for environmental projects. (Pollyanna is a Co-director and Yoga Teacher)

Laura Merriman: I have a varied work background. I have master in Sustainable Development Advocacy. I worked a lot on disseminating environmental messages to a variety audiences, especially through the ripple effect. I pretty much tell everyone I know about Umbrella. I’ve worked on community projects taking groups from inner city Birmingham to Herefordshire Countyside, I’ve spent a lot of time in Education, working 1 to 1 with children with special needs/Autism, I also led environmental education within a school. For 7 years I ran my own business ‘ I Love Cheesecake’. I took up Yoga to support my diagnosis of depression, trained through lockdown, I’ve worked with Ellie from Autumn 2020. My specialism are working children/ Young people and mental well-being. Due to my varied background, I’m good at organising, networking, planning. I know the area of Kirklees very well and have quite a lot of contacts in various places. I also make very good cakes! (Laura is a Co-director and Yoga Teacher)


Ella Brooke: I have been friends with Ellie for a long time. I am currently training to be a Person-Centred therapist. I have worked in Special education and with people with disabilities. I am a trustee for a charity working with young adults with mental health needs. My skills set are around working for charities, special needs and autism. (Ella is a Non-Executive Director)

Carole Roberts: I was first drawn to yoga when I was pregnant, then did baby Yoga. I am currently the Community Manager at Huddersfield Mission. I started my working life in retail at Waterstones. Then I was a Primary School Teacher. I then set up my own CIC Lovebread where I ran workshops teaching people how to make bread and ran markets stalls selling our local bread. The skills I can offer Umbrella are in setting up a CIC, the realities of it and balancing income. I also worked for National Trust at Nostell managing 250 Volunteers, so I can advise on using volunteers within a CIC. (Carole is a Non-Executive Director)


Would you like to join this team?


RECRUITING A CHAIR OF DIRECTORS (Voluntary role)


What is the role? To lead a cohesive board and ensure proper governance of the CIC. To support the CEO to deliver the CIC’s mission and to provide challenge and scrutiny of the CEO. To act as an ambassador for our CIC, and help our team to make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable and marginalised groups in West Yorkshire.


The board meets every 3 months. The candidate would need to attend the board meetings and communicate with the CEO between meetings to support the running of our CIC.


What experience / background do they need? They will have worked in business, and have experience operating at a strategic leadership level; ideally they will have experience with finance and can support the board with financial development; they may have third-sector strategic / operational experience.


What can we offer our board member? They will join a new and enthusiastic team and will have the opportunity to learn more about yoga and take part in group workshops. There is no salary - it is a voluntary role.


To express an interest, email: ellie@umbrellayoga.co.uk or call: 07903 842 438


More about the role here:




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