After 9 years Barry Allard decides its time to move on to a new adventure...

After 9 years I have decided it’s time to catch my breath and move onto a new adventure. Founding LEAP & The Feed has been an incredible journey. It’s hard to believe that nearly nine years have passed since I first sat down with a person facing homelessness to discuss training and employment. What I quickly saw was that by creating an environment of listening, belief and empowerment, people could change their lives. 9 years later, I’m proud that we have transformed the lives of hundreds of people.

The introduction of a new market stall in Norwich for The Feed will be my swan song. With the introduction of our trading arm The Feed, I have witnessed how business can have a positive impact on people’s lives. I’m confident that with my successor Matt Townsend and with the growth of the social enterprise, LEAP will continue to empower people for many years to come.

None of it would have been possible without an amazing team, our fantastic volunteers and the wisdom and support of many people along the way. Most importantly of all, I will always be humbled and inspired by the ability of those who have faced crisis and disadvantage to turn their lives around.

Zoe Ward, who has benefitted from LEAP, was invited to quiz Barry on his work in his final week…

Zoe asked why did he you create a Social Enterprise?

Barry’s reply; We need to move away from rattling of charity tins and being reliant on charity grants. It’s not about social enterprises. It’s about purpose driven business that will impact society. The bottom line isn’t just making a profit it needs to impact the community and the FEED shows that.

“Young people are beginning to vote with their feet, saying I want to see where this product comes from and what impact it has.”

Barry started LEAP after working on the front line of the homeless services for Norwich City Council.

“I realised that more needed to be done as people were coming to me with a mental health problem or a housing problem,” he told Miss Ward. “But six months later they were coming back with the same problems.”

Miss Ward asked what will Barry miss the most…

“I’m always humbled by people who come in and have faced extreme disadvantages and their ability to turn their lives around, I will also miss working with a fantastic group of people.”

“When we were opening the FEED stall and Dariusz [a beneficiary] turned round and said: “This is the best day of my life’ It was amazing. Its easy to forget that your having an impact of peoples lives.”

Barry firmly believes if you want to take people out of poverty then you need to empower them to take action themselves.

Barry is hoping to take a breather before helping others to set up their own Social Enterprises, he has set up a new brand  ‘ The Gold in You’ and is currently coaching and mentoring business leaders. For more information please visit https://www.barryallard.com/ and http://thegoldinyou.com/

Matt Townsend has been Chief Executive of North Norfolk Community Transport since August 2014. During this time the charity has more than doubled in size and become Norfolk’s second largest community transport organisation. NNCT now employs over 30 staff, operates 16 minibuses, has a turnover of nearly half a million pounds a year and is a social enterprise providing transport on a contract basis to subsidise its charitable activities.

Matt’s previous experience included leadership roles at housing associations in London and Cardiff. He is a fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. Matt lives in Sewell, Norwich with his wife and two children.

 “I am very excited about joining such a great social enterprise as Leap. Barry has built an organisation with a great reputation which has helped many hundreds of people to grow in confidence, access the support they need and realise their potential. His will be large shoes to fill.”

“I will be sad to leave NNCT which has such a great staff team and has become a key part of North Norfolk’s infrastructure, transporting tens of thousands of people a year. I’m proud of what we have achieved over the last few years at NNCT, but look forward to a fresh challenge. Everyone at Leap has already made me feel very welcome and I look forward to working with the team to take LEAP even further so that the social enterprise can help even more people.”

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