CAMPAIGNS

CAN’T BUY MY SILENCE

5 December 2023
markmatcham@gmail.com

Can’t Buy My Silence is a global campaign committed to ending the misuse of non-disclosure agreements.

We spoke to Can’t Buy My Silence’s co-founder Zelda Perkins on the campaign, how her direct experience adds to her determination and how Breakthrough’s support has made a difference. Can’t Buy My Silence is part of the Breakthrough Accelerator programme 2023.

Can you tell us about your campaign group and the change it exists to make?

Can’t Buy My Silence is a campaign to stop the misuse of non-disclosure agreements, which was born out of my personal experience, having signed a nondisclosure agreement with Harvey Weinstein in 1998 and breaking it in 2017. I then met Professor Julie MacFarlane, who despite not having signed one herself found her life directly legally impacted by her colleague having signed one. And so Can’t Buy My Silence was born because we were both aware of the huge number of victims of gagging orders and the enormous, unseen repercussions of signing an NDA.

What prompted you to form Can’t Buy My Silence?

Boris Johnson getting into Downing Street. I had been very lucky, within a year of breaking my NDA, I had sat in front of two select committees, a government consultation, a regulator’s consultation, and Theresa May had vowed to outlaw the use of abusive NDAs. And then Boris got into power and I was back at square one and realised I was going to have to start a public-facing campaign if I wanted to make sure what had happened to me was never going to happen to anyone else again.

Can you tell us about where you are in your campaign journey?

I’d like to say that we were two-thirds of our way through the campaign. We’ve changed some legislation here in the UK, we’ve changed some in Canada and Ireland, and been part of making change in the US, but it’s really important that we push really hard in this final third to make sure we get broader legislative change, especially in the UK. We’ve been very fortunate with the amount of movement we’ve had in two years. We’ve definitely crossed a Rubicon.

If it wasn’t personal, I would have given up a long time ago.”

Was there ever any hesitancy on your part to launch a public campaign on an issue you had direct experience with?

In a way, I’m kind of an accidental campaigner. Without realising it, I’d been campaigning from the moment that I broke my NDA and because of the profile of the Harvey Weinstein case, I was already publicly exposed. So anything I could do to move away from being defined as a “Weinstein victim” was a positive step and becoming an accidental activist helped me to lose that descriptor. It wasn’t something I planned out but it was incredibly important and pleasurable to turn a negative into a positive in that way – I was no longer a victim, I was a campaigner.

How do you think having direct experience of the issue helps your campaign efforts?

It’s what keeps me going when I think I can’t keep going. I think if it wasn’t personal, I would have given up a long time ago.

What hurdles have you faced as a direct-experience campaigner?

I think because of my own experiences, I find it really frustrating not to be able to wave a magic wand to help all of the vulnerable people whose lives have been heavily impacted by NDAs, but I think that experience probably adds to my determination to keep going.

The support that Breakthrough has given me has been transformational on a personal, emotional, and practical level.”

Since receiving Accelerator support from Breakthrough, what has changed?

It does what it says on the tin. Our campaign has definitely accelerated. I genuinely couldn’t have made it through the last two years without the support of Breakthrough. From giving me the space to moan when I need to or drafting letters on my behalf to stop my ever-expanding to-do list from growing even more, the support that Breakthrough has given me has been transformational on a personal, emotional, and practical level.

What would you say to other direct-experience campaigners worried there’s not support out there?

It can be extremely challenging running a successful campaign on your own and you can only get so far without an understanding of the processes and systems that you’re fighting and how they work. The added layer of strategy and political knowledge that an organisation like Breakthrough provides is invaluable to a successful campaign. 

What would you like to have achieved by the end of the Accelerator programme?

Legislative and regulatory change. And we’re well on our way – which we couldn’t have done without Breakthrough.

***

Read more about Can’t Buy My Silence and support their campaigning efforts at: https://www.cantbuymysilence.com/ 

OTHER CAMPAIGNS

We are proud to work with groups led by people with direct experience of the injustice they are campaigning to change.

Campaigns we are currently supporting through our programmes cover a wide range of issues from discrimination and harassment in the workplace, social housing, workers rights in the gig economy, and supporting young people during challenging times.

JOIN US


We’re building a network of people who believe in the power and potential of grassroots groups and community leaders to drive transformational change.

WE ARE ON A MISSION TO TRANSFORM 
THE IMPACT 
OF CAMPAIGNING

SUPPORTING PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED INJUSTICE TO 
LEAD, GROW, WIN CAMPAIGNS

We are BREAKTHROUGH: a pioneering campaign accelerator. We provide campaign groups and community leaders with world-class support, strategy and skills to win transformational social change.

transforming our

EXPERIENCE

into

CHANGE

OUR APPROACH

We seek out and work alongside high potential groups or individuals who have personal experience of injustice, to campaign on some of the most urgent social issues of our time. That’s because we believe people with direct experience should be at the heart of leading change.

The BREAKTHROUGH Experience is unique:

1
We’ve developed a pioneering five-stage campaign lifecycle, which we coach and guide people through. This means you’ll have the skills, knowledge and support every step of the way.

THE RIGHT
SKILLS

2
Together, we create a strategy to win – combining digital mobilisation, building your movement, influencing decision-makers and making waves in the press. We have a unique combination of experience and knowledge, allowing us to craft bespoke strategies that drive impact.

THE RIGHT
STRATEGY

3
We connect you to an unparalleled network of activists, lawyers, creatives, journalists and advisors – to give you world-class advice and support. You’ll have access to teammates with exceptional talent.

THE RIGHT
SUPPORT

OUR PROGRAMMES

Breakthrough's
Accelerator:


Our flagship programme, the Accelerator is a year-long bootcamp for campaigners who have huge potential and want to get serious about making change. This intensive programme turns budding campaigns into forces to be reckoned with.

Breakthrough's
Catalyst:


We identify high potential groups or leaders with direct experience and help them to build a coalition of support, and launch a campaign with huge impact.

Breakthrough's
Consultancy:


Outside of our main programmes, we offer bespoke coaching, development and support to campaigners and organisations who want to increase the impact of their work.

Breakthrough's
Insights:


We share our wealth of knowledge and experience through events and workshops to train fellow campaigners and our sector peers.

Breakthrough's
Accelerator:


Our flagship programme, the Accelerator is a year-long bootcamp for campaigners who have huge potential and want to get serious about making change. This intensive programme turns budding campaigns into forces to be reckoned with.

Breakthrough's
Catalyst:


We identify high potential groups or leaders with direct experience and help them to build a coalition of support, and launch a campaign with huge impact.

Breakthrough's
Consultancy:


Outside of our main programmes, we offer bespoke coaching, development and support to campaigners and organisations who want to increase the impact of their work.

Breakthrough's
Insights:


We share our wealth of knowledge and experience through events and workshops to train fellow campaigners and our sector peers.

OUR CAMPAIGNS

We are proud to work with groups and individuals who have direct experience of the injustice they are campaigning to change.

Here are a few of the campaigns we’re supporting through our Accelerator programme – click on their profiles to find out more about them.

STORIES

BREAKTHROUGH’S
NEWS

Apply to the Accelerator Programme 2024-25!

Apply to the Accelerator Programme 2024-25!

Are you campaigning for change and need some expert help in your ... read more

5 Lessons on Tackling Corporate Power

5 Lessons on Tackling Corporate Power

Want to take on the big corporations? The campaign experts at ... read more

A Day in the Life at Breakthrough

A Day in the Life at Breakthrough

Ever wondered what working at Breakthrough is like? Follow our ... read more

Kwajo’s three lessons on online campaigning

Kwajo’s three lessons on online campaigning

Want to change the world using online campaigning? Kwajo shares ... read more

Breakthrough’s 5-stage campaign pathway

Breakthrough’s 5-stage campaign pathway

Introducing Breakthrough's 5-stage campaign pathway and how we ... read more

Campaigner Spotlight: Laura Coryton

Campaigner Spotlight: Laura Coryton

Laura Coryton is co-founder and managing director of Sex Ed ... read more

Campaigner Spotlight: Jo Goodman

Campaigner Spotlight: Jo Goodman

Jo Goodman is co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for ... read more

Board Recruitment – Apply now

Board Recruitment – Apply now

Breakthrough is the first of its kind UK-wide social impact ... read more

Breakthrough Accelerator 2023 – Open for Applications!

Breakthrough Accelerator 2023 – Open for Applications!

Get the coaching, tools and connections you need to create change. read more

Grenfell United launch new campaign to #DemandCharges

Grenfell United launch new campaign to #DemandCharges

Grenfell United have launched a new campaign. Grenfell United ... read more

Coventry Youth Activists head to London for Facebook Demonstration

Coventry Youth Activists head to London for Facebook Demonstration

Coventry Youth Activists, a group of young disabled activists ... read more

Breakthrough Accelerator Launches

Breakthrough Accelerator Launches

Applications open on 16 May for the Breakthrough accelerator - a ... read more

Join US

Join a network of people who believe in the power and potential of campaigning for change.

Sign up to receive exclusive emails and you’ll be the first to hear about new campaigns, crucial updates, expert insights, and when our programmes open for applications.