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Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers was founded in 2015 by our CEO Matthew Powell in response to the extremely high unemployment rate of people of refugee background, which is over four times that of the national average. Our mission is to help refugees acquire the knowledge, confidence, and experience they need to gain sustainable, fulfilling employment.



Registered charity no. 1161901

Member since October 2020

About us

Approximately 374,000 people of refugee background live in the UK, and around 50% of these are in London, all would have faced great hardship in fleeing war, violence and persecution. Upon arriving in the UK they face a further struggle experiencing marginalisation and significant barriers to start their new life.

We know that refugees can and do make valuable contributions to society, and that securing employment is the single most important factor in helping them integrate into their new home. However, the UK currently has no national strategy to aid the transition of refugees into the labour market. Refugees face many barriers to employment including: gaps on CVs caused by the lengthy asylum process, racism, insufficient English language and IT skills, lack of familiarity with UK workplace and recruitment culture, misplaced employer perceptions around hiring refugees, and difficulty getting overseas experience and qualifications recognised. This increases their exclusion from society.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated these barriers for refugees. As we face significantly higher rates of unemployment, this will increase competition and make the employment landscape that much more challenging for refugees.

We are proud to have supported over 1,000 refugees from 57 different countries on their employment journeys. The majority of our refugee clients come from BAME backgrounds, as well as other minority backgrounds including the LGBT+ community.

Our refugee clients receive 1-1 advice and guidance from our trained Employment and Integration Advisers who offer tailored support and access to specific programmes: BB employment: 1-1 employment advice such as CV writing, interview practice and techniques, identifying eligible job opportunities and any specialist needs such joining our programme for 18-25yr olds.

One of the biggest barriers to employment is limited English language and IT skills. We offer English courses at varying levels and courses in IT, Numeracy and Customer Service to provide essential training for success in the modern job market.

Breaking Barriers are a young charity with an entrepreneurial spirit and we pride ourselves in being bespoke with our clients and as well as our corporate partners. We are passionate about the role the private sector can play in empowering and furthering our mission whatever the size of the partner. This means that we are just as to work closely with our biggest partners (including IKEA, Gucci, Bank of America) as we are with SMEs who want to make a difference.