“It is a privilege to be a trustee”. Those are the words of Jane Dean, who has been a trustee for local charity A Breath for Life for the last 23 years. In commemoration of National Trustee Week (1 – 5th November), we got some insight from someone Jane. Just what is it like being a trustee?
Jane became a trustee by accident. She explains “I was simply trying to find a way to help a small boy with brain injury after a catastrophic incident following minor surgery. We needed to raise money for a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to aid his recovery and so A Breath for Life was formed. I became chairman of trustees.”
A Breath for Life is a small charity with a small staff. As such the trustees, all volunteers, are ‘working’ trustees. They have a duty to take care of all donations, to submit accounts to the charity commission on an annual basis, and to be open and transparent in all their dealings with a variety of authorities.
“The Trustees ensure the safety of the people arriving for therapy sessions and make sure all staff are appropriately DBS checked,” says Jane.
Trustee boards will tend to have regular meetings, monthly or bi-monthly, to look at the organisation and navigate any governance or service delivery challenges, so being a trustee can be irregular in terms of commitment, but the work is often vital; being a trustee is a serious commitment.
Fundraising is an ongoing priority for most organisations and for A Breath for Life that rests on the shoulders of the trustees. The rewards however can be enormous, particularly when, as Jane enthuses, they receive positive feedback from service users.
Most of A Breath for Life’s trustees are retired people and so they would welcome new blood and fresh eyes. This is something that many organisations are familiar with. “We have been left behind in many ways when it comes to IT and social media,” says Jane. “Young volunteers would gain much from working within an established charity and with experienced people around them.”
If you would like to find out more about trusteeship, either with A Breath for Life or another organisation, contact the CVS for a discussion.