A big hello to our new Chief Executive Officer, Richard Haigh!

As our current CEO, Hannah Underwood, prepares to take on her new role as The Key’s Director of Growth and Innovation, we are so excited to introduce you to Richard Haigh who will be taking on the role of Chief Executive Officer at The Key from October.

Richard’s strong passion for young people and youth work has shone brightly throughout his career. After qualifying as a solicitor, Richard has worked in the statutory and voluntary sector with children and families for over 25 years in a range of roles involving children’s homes, children’s rights advocacy, one-stop support services, refugees and asylum seekers, families in poverty, children who go missing, and child sexual exploitation. 

More recently, in 2016 Barnardo’s embarked on a ten-year strategy to transform the lives of the most vulnerable children. Richard’s role as an Assistant Director for Impact involved developing, co-ordinating and facilitating one of the key priorities from that strategy - supporting children in and leaving care. This work continues to be a key part of Barnardo’s strategic intent utilising new approaches to strategic partnerships, service design, and measurement of impact.

Richard’s current role is as Director of Quality and Resources for Safer London, a charity focused on young people and families in London affected by violence and exploitation. Key areas of responsibility include strategy, policy, income generation, finance, human resources, data, and communications all of which underpin the efforts of an organisation working with issues such as child criminal exploitation, knife crime, gang involvement, sexual abuse, housing and emotional wellbeing.

We are as overjoyed as he is that he will be joining us at such a pivotal time for our organisation so without further ado, here are a few words form Richard himself…

“I’m absolutely delighted to be appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer for The Key, and more importantly I’m determined to work as hard as I can to build on all of the effort and expertise that has already gone into planning how the organisation wants to move forward.

Before my more recent roles which have had a national focus I have previously worked in the North East for local organisations which supported young people to access the The Key. I know how much The Key Framework can offer the young people who directly participate, the organisations they are involved with, and the wider community so I was thrilled to pursue an opportunity join the team.

Throughout the recruitment process two things really stood out for me. Firstly, being interviewed by young people confirmed to me at first hand  that the Key's approach can be a life changing opportunity. Providing a vital platform for young people, particularly those who are disadvantaged, to form their own aspirations, develop their capabilities, and work together has always been central to the way I have tried to work. 

Secondly, throughout the recruitment process there was a strong emphasis on values and ways of working which I felt mirrored my own in many different ways, increasing my wish to be part of The Key’s drive to achieve the highest level of impact as a learning and inclusive organisation.

I start in October, at a time when all organisations are facing challenges and working out new ways to adapt and meet the needs of those who they serve. I can’t wait to begin work with new colleagues and partners in order to respond to those challenges, as well as identify new opportunities.”

Photo: Richard Haigh