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Celebrating the value of Trustees!

Celebrating the value of Trustees!

Whilst we should never need an excuse, this week – Trustees Week 2021, is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the role of Trustees, and everything they bring to their Charities.

In my day job, I have the privilege of leading the fantastic organisation which is Services For Education. Not everyone realises, that we were originally three departments within Birmingham City Council. Our relationship with BCC continues to be an important one for us, but for almost a decade we have been an independent registered Charity. Our vision is to use the power of learning and music to transform and enhance the lives of children, young people, adults and wider communities.

As a charity our Board of Trustees are the cornerstone of our governance structure. Often conversations with fellow CEO’s turn to the importance of the relationship with the Board. Each of these conversations reminds me how thankful I am for the group of dedicated individuals who have chosen to volunteer their time with us in this way – each bringing their own valued contribution and perspective, together making us better as an organisation – thank you!

When a trustee applies to join our Board, we always try to be as transparent about the time commitment involved. As with many things, Covid-19 threw the rule book out the window – suddenly we went from a Board meeting every other month, to weekly – all through the darkest days of the pandemic. Conversations by necessity focused on our people, risk assessments and financial sustainability for the long term. As an organisation we are indebted to our Board – for whom the goal posts re time commitment had significantly changed, whilst they stood with us, as together we navigated some challenging times.

As is often the way with unexpected challenges, the relationship between the Senior Leadership Team and the Board has gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years – and we were delighted to welcome 3 new trustees in the depths of the pandemic, and a further two at the start of this academic year. From my CEO networks. I know its not always a given that the relationship between the Chair of Trustees and the Chief Executive is seamless. This is my first role as a Charity Chief Exec, and I am grateful for the strong relationship I have with the two Chairs I have worked with to date – they are dates in the diary to look forward to, and I always come away energised and supported – so special thanks are due to Martin and Sarah!

I firmly believe that there is a lot to be gained from being a Trustee – and I also get to see this ‘from the other side’ as Chair of Trustees of Renew Wellbeing, and very recently joining the Board of the Social Enterprise, Miss Macaroon. This dual perspective is really helpful. As I think of how we continue to develop the effectiveness of the Board at SFE, and the organisation as a whole, insights from these two organisations can prompt useful thinking for the day job.

To all Charity trustees reading this, thank you for your experience and dedication which you bring to the sector – and if you haven’t yet started your journey as a trustee, I highly recommend. When your skills and experience align with a cause or organisation you are passionate about, you really will make a difference.


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