ReachOut Appoints Professor Simon Hepburn as its new Chair of Trustees

We’re excited to announce that ReachOut has appointed Professor Simon Hepburn as our new Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Simon takes up his new role as part of a distinguished career across the charity, education and skills sectors. Simon is the former Chief Executive Officer at the UK Cyber Security Council and a Visiting Professor at Aston University in Birmingham. He has also worked as a Director at Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) and City Year UK, an Assistant Director at The Children’s Society, and as a Trustee Board Member at ACEVO.

Mentoring has always been an important part of Simon’s life and career. Having left school with no substantial qualifications, Simon attended a further education college to train as a chef, where he later mentored and trained other young chefs entering the profession.

Simon went on to work with young people on bail throughout London, achieving a 100% success rate in supporting them not to re-offend. This work led him to a career in the charity sector and a passion for mentoring and supporting others.

Alice Memminger, ReachOut’s Interim CEO, said: “We’re thrilled to have Simon join ReachOut as our new Chair of Trustees. Simon brings with him extensive experience across the charity sector and is a true advocate for young people. The skills and expertise he can offer will be highly valuable to ReachOut as we celebrate our 20th anniversary as a charity, and embark on developing a new strategy that will expand our reach and impact.

I’d also like to extend my thanks to our outgoing Chair of Trustees Ed Lehman. ReachOut is extremely grateful for his hard work and guidance over his many years involved with the charity. First as a mentor, then as a trustee and later as Chair, Ed has been instrumental in ReachOut’s growth and impact.”

Hear from Simon on his appointment:

What attracted you to the role of Chair of Trustees at ReachOut? 

“I was attracted to the role of Chair of Reach Out because I believe in the mission that every young person should be equipped with the skills and behaviours to go on to lead good, happy, and successful lives which is part of my personal and professional belief and value system. My core driver has always been my commitment to developing others so they become the best version of themselves and making a positive impact on society.

I was already aware of Reach Out as an organisation and great work that the organisation undertakes and was keen to use my knowledge, skills experience and networks to support an aligned organisation and give something back.”

What are you looking forward to in your role as Chair? 

“I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the Board of Trustees, Managers and Staff, Mentors and Mentees, schools and businesses as part of a community of interest who are passionate about supporting in the next phase of development in the organisation.”

Have you ever had a mentor? If so, how did they help you? 

“I have had a mentor for most of my life from a young person being mentored in martial arts to a CEO being mentored by a more experienced CEO and former member of parliament. This mentorship was a safe place to have open and honest conversations, run ideas and challenges by them as a sounding board and to learn from their knowledge and experience.”

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“At first, I was really hesitant to take on the Project Leader role, despite having mentored with ReachOut. However, with the support of the team I’ve really developed my skills. For example, at the Mentee Graduation, I stood up in front of 200 people and presented an award which is something I would never ever have been able to have done before, and isn’t an opportunity I could gain in my other situations.”

Amy McCutcheon, Project Leader at ReachOut Academy, Dean Trust Ardwick, Manchester.


“Being able to spend the summer working at Rede Partners, was an amazing experience. Whether it was working in HR or Finance, I learned so much about the world of private equity, made great connections with fantastic people and I got to learn first-hand what it would be like to work there! I really believe that I can go onto build the career I want now I’ve been a part for a workplace for real”

Victor Adekunle, 18 years old, ReachOut Ambassador, London


“When I first my mentee, she was very reluctant to participate in the sessions. Now, I see a completely different person! Her confidence has grown and she is happy to join in! She still has some self-doubt when it comes to academic work, but that’s what I hope to help her overcome, because she is a very bright person!

Through mentoring, I’ve learnt I’m a lot more patient than I realised. There will be days where she refuses to participate and those are the days that I really see the importance of the character strengths, for both the mentees and the mentors. It also makes it easier for the mentee to understand the character strengths, when I use them myself”

Myrtle, ReachOut Club mentor at Tufnell Primary School, London


“There are more distractions than ever outside of school, and the commitment of our students to attend ReachOut sessions is testament to the value they place on the relationships they foster there, and the challenge and enjoyment they provide.

ReachOut’s focus on communication skills and character development has become an important aspect of our provision of support for these students. The opportunity to relate to a positive role- model other than their usual teachers is key to the programme’s impact, and the evidence of this has been seen in the students’ attendance, resilience and to their overall progress across all the subjects in the school.”

Thomas Janvrin, Assistant Vice Principal at the Petchey Academy London