A very fond farewell - Breaking Barriers

A very fond farewell

The time has come for Matt Powell, our Founder and CEO, to leave Breaking Barriers.


Matt Powell

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Timing is everything.

Six months ago we signed off our 2030 goal. Deep down, I knew I was no longer the right person to take Breaking Barriers through its next phase.

We have set unapologetically ambitious plans to continue growing and expanding. We aim to quadruple our support from 1,000 to 4,000 refugees per year by 2030. That means growing our turnover from £4.8m to £15m, our staff from 80 to 300+, and expanding from five locations to many more.

One thing I’ve learnt over the years is how hard growth is, and that the challenges you face are so different at each stage. We have learned many lessons and professionalised an unrecognisable amount since we first started around a kitchen table all those years ago. But I am an entrepreneur at heart. While I’ve loved seeing the spark of the idea I had become reality, as we progress through our scale-up phase, we need someone who has ‘been there, done that’. Someone who can anticipate the hurdles before they’ve even come into view.

That’s why I’m delighted to announce that Ciara Devlin will be joining as our new CEO in November. Ciara brings a wealth of experience. She has spent almost 20-years working for third sector organisations, including significant posts at Crisis where she was central to the growth of the charity as it evolved from a London based charity with 90 staff to a national organisation with services across the UK.

It’s never easy for a Founder to step away from their ‘baby’. (Fortunately, I have an actual baby to keep me busy, and who – at least at this stage – has a much lower income target!) So I leave Breaking Barriers with a range of emotions.

I am immensely proud of the team at Breaking Barriers and all we have achieved in the last eight years. I set up the charity to provide a simple solution, to link up refugees with businesses so that they could find meaningful employment in the UK.

Since then, we have gone on to become, and to achieve so much more. This is thanks to the businesses, volunteers, funders, supporters, staff, and friends and family who have stepped up to make things happen. The immense generosity and compassion I’ve encountered along the way from many of you is something I will never forget. What we have achieved together has been phenomenal. Thank you.

But looking ahead there is still more to do, and I predict an extremely exciting future for Breaking Barriers. I know that Ciara will do a great job of continuing the work I started, and she will also build on this, taking the charity successfully into the future for many years to come.

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