We're hiring a technical lead

by Will Myddelton - Central team member - product lead

I’m the product lead at Local Welcome. We’re a charity that brings refugees together with local people to cook and eat a meal at the weekend. Our meals build connections between people in what is an increasingly divided world. We think this is important. Maybe you do too.

We are looking for a technical lead to join our team. This post explains the challenges that this role involves. We’d love it if you could share this with anyone you know that might be interested and suitable.

We’re scaling a strong idea

Over the last three years, Local Welcome has designed and iterated a reliable way to build meaningful connections between people. We pair refugees with local people across three tables. Each table cooks a recipe and then they all come together to eat. Everyone answers questions designed to open up conversations. It works beautifully.

Today we are running these meals in three locations - Lambeth, Derby, and East Dulwich. On the strength of these meals, the Big Lottery has just given us funding to scale to 100 locations over the next two years.

This presents a major challenge. Frankly, it takes a lot of human effort and cajoling to ensure that the refugees and local people turn up. We are looking for a technical lead to help us use technology to scale the locations without having to scale our human effort at the same rate.

We’re aiming to be self-funding

Although we love the Big Lottery and our funding partners we don’t want to be reliant on grant funding forever. Instead, we are aiming to become self-funding through membership contributions over the next two years. We are going to need around 10,000 paying members to pay for our team and to supply the ingredients and equipment for 100 locations.

This presents a second challenge. We’ve only just started asking people to pay contributions as members, rather than giving their time as volunteers. We think there are people who will want to contribute both money and time to build community, but this is unproven as yet. We are looking for a technical lead to experiment with ways to convert people from wanting to support refugees into being paying members.

We’re building a great team

Scaling up to 100 locations and becoming self-funding are ambitious goals for a small charity like Local Welcome. We can only do this if we create a team of people working with autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

We’ve made a great start. Ben Pollard is our founder and he’s grown Local Welcome. Over the last 12 months, we’ve brought in a delivery manager, two designers, a communications lead, and a product lead. The final role we need is a technical lead.

It’s worth being clear that the technical lead isn’t leading developers. The team outlined above is unlikely to grow over the next year. Instead, it’s about leading on how we use technology to meet our goals. At the start, it will be stringing together existing software products to run experiments and learn quickly. Later, as we settle on what works best, it will be building bespoke technology where this makes sense. Later still, if we’re successful, it will be taking what we’ve learned and turning it into infrastructure for civil society beyond Local Welcome.

We want someone who is more interested in helping us learn and grow than someone who is committed to building software in a particular way. If this sounds like you then you should apply to be our technical lead.

I’m @myddelton on Twitter if you want to have an informal chat about the role.