What is it like to be a Trustee for a charity?
Mandy Curtis shares her experience of being Vice Chair of Care for the Carers’ Board of Trustees. Can you join us too?
Mandy joined the Care for the Carers’ Board of Trustees in September 2016, and was made Vice Chair in September 2018. She is director of 18 Hours, which specialises in organising community-focused events.
She recently completed a PhD in Human Geography, exploring people, place and identity, and also brings experience of teaching and mentoring.
What made you want to apply to be a Trustee at Care for the Carers?
I had a friend who was working with the organisation already and the Board were looking for new faces to bring new ideas to the table. I’d just finished my PhD and was looking for a volunteering role, so it was also partly a case of being in the right place at the right time. I also had personal experience of being a carer and a background in nursing, so there was a personal interest as well as professional.
Of course, I also wanted to raise the profile of carers, and my day-to-day work already complemented some of the experience the charity was looking for assistance with.
What would you say is the key role of a Trustee?
To support the CEO to run the organisation. It’s also really important that as a Trustee you agree with the principles of the charity and how it operates.
What have you found most rewarding about being a member of the Board, so far?
I’ve found working with the Young Adult Carers (YACs) really moving. When I went along to one of the YAC group meetings, the experience reasserted that I was doing the right thing by joining the Board, and becoming involved with the charity. We decided to invite some of the YAC group to present to the Board, which has opened the way for involving younger carers in raising issues for the Board to consider and discuss.
I enjoy being part of a team helping to shape the organisation and seeing successes, for example, being successful in a tender process.
What responsibilities does a Trustee have on a weekly/monthly/annual basis?
The minimum commitment is a bi-monthly meeting, usually in person (but with options for attending via Skype or conference call), with work in between reviewing documents via email.
Your skills and experience may be really valid for helping beyond the general duties of a Trustee. For example, I’m also on the Care for the Carers’ Fundraising Committee because I have a lot of experience of working in fundraising roles.
Are there any challenges of being a Trustee?
There are some understandable demands on your time, but the charity can be flexible to work around your day job. For example, we have flexi meetings held at different times to allow for Board members to be able to attend, sometimes via conference call.
We recognise existing time commitments, so generally hold meetings at the start or end of the day.
With many charities looking for Trustees, why should a prospective applicant choose Care for the Carers?
It’s a charity that’s really on a good footing. It operates with some restrictions due to how it’s funded, but it also has scope for Trustees and staff to raise new ideas and take carefully considered risks.
Care for the Carers is in an exciting place – it’s not set in its ways or antiquated, and has a dynamic team and dynamic board. I really enjoy meeting the charity staff, and having the opportunity to get to know people and feel part of the wider team.
What skills and experiences is Care for the Carers looking for in a Trustee?