From November 6th to 10th, 2023, we celebrate National Trustee Week. Trustee roles are vital in every charitable organisation throughout the United Kingdom.
Trustees are responsible for making critical decisions and ensuring that processes and procedures are followed.
It’s important to recognise that being a trustee is a voluntary role, and we must express our gratitude for the time, skills, and dedication offered by our board members. Their commitment is instrumental in keeping us aligned with our mission.
Within VAC, we are fortunate to have a dedicated group of eight trustees who collectively harness their knowledge, insights, and life experiences to improve local lives.
We had a conversation with one of our Trustees, John Needell, who became a board member in 2019.
With a successful 30-year career as a senior regional manager at a multinational chemicals and healthcare company, he brought a wealth of experience to the voluntary sector. However, when he faced redundancy, John saw this as an opportunity to give back to his community.
John’s involvement in the voluntary sector began with his volunteer work at the local Calderdale charity, Happy Days, where he supported individuals experiencing homelessness or crisis.
Later, he took on the role of trustee at Home-Start, which sadly closed its doors in 2019. Nonetheless, John’s dedication to making a positive impact continued, leading him to join the team at VAC.
John: “Through the experience with Home-Start, I felt that there was a need to support and try and help charities generally within Calderdale and VAC seemed to be an organisation that would potentially do that, and I decided that I could help a wider group of charities by working for a charity working with charities.”
“I chair the finance and risk sub-committee, which looks at the internal operations within VAC, making sure we have the right money and budgeting plus health and safety, policies and risk management, as the name suggests.
Because I’ve run teams and departments with reasonable-sized budgets and been able to understand budgeting processes and controls, It’s all stuff that I’ve done in business for a lot of years.
You try and put your skills where you feel they’re best, being a good trustee is about trust and trying to allow others to do what they do best.
I’ve always felt that diversity is really important because I only think the way I think and know what I know. By working together, well, that’s double the experience and ideas et cetera, and that’s the power of diversity.”
“I think part of it is around having a group of people who have oversight, when you’re working in a company, you can get quite introspective. When you have trustees who aren’t 40 hours plus a week, they will notice things maybe you don’t.
The trustees are the people who are there to guide and control, there are responsibilities to being a trustee, they look at the overall picture and make sure that the organisation stays with its purpose.
The board has one voice, quite a strong voice, but it’s made up of lots of people and I see that as one of the powers of having a board.
It’s one of the reasons why people should think about becoming a trustee because they get the opportunity to try and influence and shape their region or area of interest.”
“If you are prepared to have a degree of responsibility, then you have the opportunity to change and improve things in the way that you feel is right and when you see those changes done, and you see positive results come from it, that has to be rewarding.
On the downside, there are times when it’s upsetting, like when Home-Start failed, you think of all the people that Home-Start were helping, that we could no longer help and we had to make people redundant, which is a painful process.
As a trustee, you try and put processes in place, so that everybody’s least affected and if you’ve done a good job of that, in a bad situation, it’s maybe slightly less bad.”
If you’re interested in becoming a Trustee at VAC please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Quotes have been edited for clarity purposes.