On the face of it, moving from an international development charity working in isolated communities across the world to leading a Norfolk
-based charity working in the field of drug and alcohol recovery might seems like two totally different worlds.
But for Paul Martin,
his move from being Head of Strategy & Communication, for MAF UK
, to being Chief Executive of the Matthew Project
does have a number of common threads.
Both are Christian-based projects, both aim to offer a mixture of help alongside hope and both have innovative, committed teams reaching out to isolated communities.
"At MAF we served remote and isolated communities in far off Africa
and elsewhere in the developing world," said Paul. "Yet across Norfolk and Suffolk
we have isolated communities and people in real unmet need too. I have been so impressed by the commitment, innovation and teamwork I have seen so far at The Matthew Project to meet these needs by working in strong partnerships."
After graduating with a science degree, Paul has worked for multi-national companies and in the public sector, leading environmental and public protection services and regeneration plans in Kent.
At MAF, Paul's role grew to encompass strategic planning, income generation, marketing, supporter services and volunteer management across the UK as well as developing the charity's work globally.
Moving from Kent with his wife Kaela,
who works with children with special educational needs, Paul was also involved in community work with his local Baptist church and it is the grassroots nature of the Matthew Project's work which was part of the attraction for him.
"I wanted to do something more local in terms of UK community," he said. "The Christian ethos stuck out for me and the non-judgemental commitment which turns faith into action for people and affects and helps change their lives.
"It is also an opportunity to lead an organisation in times which are both very exciting yet challenging for charities in the UK," said Paul, who replaced former CEO Rosalie Weetman
, "as we can take a greater role in delivering vital services across the community.
"The staff I have met so far are pioneering and very committed while facing lots of challenges. The Matthew Project is an organisation which has the right heart for the work and an almost insatiable desire to meet those needs and do things in a better way. That also means that part of my role is to protect and look after the staff as well as providing really good services - it is trying to balance those two elements.
"Our work is about support, advice and empowerment. We also work with service users with more serious substance misuse issues including offenders and people who have slipped into the early stages of addiction." he said.
"For some it requires a more partnership approach - a mix of people such as ourselves, the NHS, the criminal justice system and people who work with young people in terms of prevention. All of those professionals are coming together to help a much wider range of people."
The Christian background of the project is still key, said Paul: "Some of our staff are Christians and some are not but they all tell me that they feel the Christian ethos is really important to them because they feel that the organisation cares about them and also they felt supported by their colleagues."
Paul is spending his first 100 days finding out as much as he can about the issues that the project addresses, getting to know its 130-strong team and its partners and understanding the services that it aims to provide: "Then I can consider where new needs will be and how we can fund growing those services," he said.
As if that is not enough on his plate, the Matthew Project is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a skydive involving the Bishop of Norwich
and former High Sheriff of Norfolk Henry Cator
in May. And in June there is a 1930s Ball at Sprowston Manor Hotel
Pictured above is Paul Martin, new CEO of The Matthew Project.