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Trustees week is from 12 -16 November. According to Trustees Week, there are now 196,000 charities in the UK and just over one million trustees. 

Trustees have a vital rolel in volunteering their time to help run a charity and make important decisions. Running a charity comes with a lot of responsibility but it is also a rewarding opportunity to use your skills and experience to make a difference to a cause that you care about.

Here we share several short stories and poems about what it means to be a trustee from several local charity trustees.

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It can be fun

It was when I had capacity
I agreed to be a SEARCH Trustee.
I thought I had the ability
the knowledge, the skills and clarity
which were needed by this charity.
The services for the elderly
have few champions I could see.
I took on responsibility
was challenged by diversity,
and valued accountability.
I consider I’m very lucky
to see the growth of activity
the strength of a good committee
the work to increase publicity
to heighten SEARCH’s visibility.
The four years have brought variety;
Quick responses to necessity
Planning for sustainability
I stay not just for continuity
The work can be rewarding and fun.

Wendy Dale
SEARCH Trustee


"Like many people, I wanted to find a way to give something back"

I am acutely aware that I have been very lucky in life and that there are privileges I enjoy that are invisible to me. Like many people, I wanted to find a way to give something back and, through Common Purpose, gained an understanding of how I could help in the third sector as a Trustee.
What I get out of it is the satisfaction making a difference through others to the wider community - and in particular helping from a governance perspective the two organisations I Chair.
How the organisations benefit might best be written by the Chief Executives! I think I enable good governance, ensuring every voice is heard. I strive to challenge, scrutinise and support. I try to coach, mentor and be a sounding board without ever being proscriptive.
And I do three things every Trustee should do a) I turn up b) I listen and c) I speak up.

Simon Elliott, Trustee and Chair of Newcastle CVS and Northern Stage


"The value of being a trustee more than compensates for the commitment involved"

I actively avoided taking on any kind of formal Trustee role for most of my career, convinced that the last thing I needed in my life was more committee work. However in the past five years I have become a board member of two charities and a co-chair of of a third. The starting point was my invitation to join the board of NCVS. It's taken me a while but I now feel I have grown into this role and the responsibilities that come with it. Whilst it can be a time consuming and sometimes daunting task (did someone mention pensions?), there is no doubt in my mind that there are important benefits, both for me personally and for my employing organisation. I believe that I have grown professionally as a manager and as a leader, and there is no doubt that my knowledge of the operating environment that affects the public and not for profit sectors has significantly broadened and deepened. In my experience the value of being a trustee more than compensates for the commitment involved.

Steve Nash, Chair of Recoco and Trustee of Newcastle Blue Stone Consortium and Newcastle CVS


"This could be a valuable and rewarding role"

When I was first invited to consider an application for the role of a charity trustee I knew little of what would be involved and initially researched this online and then met with staff and other trustees and began the induction process and also to appreciate this could be a valuable and rewarding role helping the charity to chart its future direction and develop and meet its goals and adapt to a rapidly changing financial and regulatory requirements and yet at the same time not lose sight of still seeking to achieve its key objectives in "challenging times" . As I have only been in post a few months I am still very much "learning my way" but with the kind support and assistance of all within the charity I hope that I can eventually make a meaningful contribution to the above process in due course and that my previous employment and life experience will be useful.

Peter McCue, Search Trustee


"A thriving voluntary sector can only exist and be strengthened if people continue to lend their expertise"

I am employed as Chief Executive of Disability North and I am passionate about using my skills, my experience, and my continued learning to contribute to the work of other organisations to better deliver their charitable objectives. A thriving voluntary sector can only exist and be strengthened if people continue to lend their expertise to organisations in this way. I think everyone benefits. I benefit from further opportunities to develop my skills and knowledge base, all the while knowing that I am supporting the strategic direction of organisations with a social purpose I believe in. In turn, I think the organisation benefits from my skills and expertise; I think the staff in particular value what I am able to offer, because they know that I know what it’s like to work in the sector, the day to day challenges we are presented with, and so I can provide a creative sounding board to develop sustainable plans for the future.

Victoria Armstrong
Trustee of Hambleton and Richmondshire Carers Centre, and director of Tell Us North


"I feel a sense of pride that I am able to contribute"

Having retired a little while ago I did not want to vegetate and felt that my experience - I'm a Chartered Accountant - could, possibly, be of use to a charity such as Search. I also felt that I had been lucky enough to have had a job that gave me advantages not open to everybody and this was a way of putting something back into the community. If you like, this was my way of "repaying my debt to society".
In my professional life I had acted for a number of not-for-profit organisations and I was aware that many of them lacked trustees with my sort of background so I contacted Community Foundation who, in turn, put me in touch with Search. It turned out that Search were actively seeking someone with financial experience so we made a good fit.
The work that Search carries out fills gaps in the community that would, otherwise, be left unaddressed and I feel a sense of pride that I am able to contribute a little bit towards the continued provision of those much-needed services.

Keith Williamson, Search Trustee


"I think it's really important to love your cause"

Like many things in my life, I became a trustee because someone asked me. In 1985 I set up an organisation that campaigned on women’s issues and someone asked me to be on their committee for a local women’s charity. The cause was relevant to me and I think it’s really important to love your cause. I gain enormously by being able to contribute, use my experiences (personal, professional and yes, political) to help organisations do good. I’ve also benefitted by seeing how other organisations operate and have asked (with permission), can I borrow their policy or share good practice? It’s a great developmental opportunity for people – to get to understand how the voluntary sector works or to deepen your understanding of it. I’ve served on a number of boards of small, medium and large charities and been constantly inspired by what differences they make. I try to reflect and pull boards back to the needs of the beneficiaries and the ‘world out there’. I’m clear I’m a non-executive and don’t interfere in the operational delivery. I’m on a national charity and always remind them that there is a world outside of London.

Sally Young
Trustee Blue Stone Consortium, Community Foundation (TWN), NCVO