Q. When did you first become a Trustee and why did you want to?
A. I applied to be a Trustee of the Charity over 10 years ago. I had held various supportive roles for the Charity within my own fire and rescue service, starting as a station rep and moving on to both brigade and regional committees. I also became the service champion for the Charity in my service. Becoming a Trustee seemed to be a natural progression for me as it allowed me to support the Charity and its aims at the highest level and it also allowed me to repay some of the support that the Charity had given my family when it needed it.
Q. Has the experience since then been what you expected?
A. I think that the first year in a Trustee role is the most difficult because you arrive at your first Board meeting thinking that, with all of the work and fundraising that you have been involved with, that you know the Charity and how it works. The reality is that running a charity is quite complex and you need to get to know how each part of the operation works and how each part is reliant on many aspects of the work of the organisation. Once you have a good grounding on how the Charity operates the experience for me has been very rewarding. I have learnt a lot and met many very interesting people and have been able to experience at first hand the help and support that the Charity provides to many beneficiaries who need help and support. I would therefore say that the overall experience has far exceeded my initial expectation.
“Seeing lives and families being supported through often very difficult times is very uplifting.”
Howard Robinson, Trustee
Q. For those reading this who may not be aware of what a Trustee Board does, can you briefly summarise what impact the Board has on the Charity?
A. The role of a Trustee and the Board is quite simple and can be summarised by a few key actions:
- Ensuring that the Charity is carrying out its purposes for the benefit of its beneficiaries.
- Ensuring that the Charity complies with its governing document and any legal requirements.
- Always acting in the Charity’s best interests.
- Using sound judgement by acting responsibly, reasonably and honestly when managing the Charity’s resources.
- Always acting with reasonable care and skill and taking appropriate advice when necessary.
- Ensuring that the Charity is financially sound.
- Above all, you must ensure that the Charity is accountable.
If you follow these actions then the impact that the board has on the Charity is very significant as it sets the direction for the Charity and ensures that it is fit for purpose and that it delivers high quality services that its beneficiaries need.
Q. What’s been the highlight?
A. There have been many over the last 10 years but the sense of satisfaction that you get when you see beneficiaries’ lives being turned around by the work of the Charity and knowing that in a small way you have contributed to making that able to happen.
Q. What do you think are the biggest challenges that we face?
A. There are many challenges facing the Charity both today and over the coming years. We all live in times of great change and the Charity has to be in a position to respond to the ever changing environment that we operate in.
Sustainability is a key area of concern. The Charity is seeing greater demand for its services and we are having to expand the range of services that we provide to meet the needs of our beneficiaries. Fire and Rescue services are going through an unprecedented period of change and the NHS is also making huge changes in the way that it delivers services to the public and the Charity is having to adapt to these changes. Adapting to these changes and determining where the Charity sits in filling the gaps to maximise support to our beneficiaries is a major challenge and ensuring that we have the right resources to deliver this can be difficult. Any funding gaps need to be filled and must be sustainable. The Charity is rising to this challenge and I am sure that we can continue to provide world quality support to those that need it.
Q. And of course your role as a Trustee is entirely voluntary, what would you say to others who may never have previously considered volunteering their time for a Charity like ours?
A. Becoming a Trustee is a very rewarding role, it is also a challenging role but you get to see the outcomes that your work enables to happen. Seeing lives and families being supported through often very difficult times is very uplifting and inspiring as you see what the collective good can deliver. I would recommend volunteering to help the Charity in any way that you can and see the difference that you can make to real lives.