Monday, 18 November 2013

A Day in the Life of a Home-Start Trustee - by Hazel Thompson

Hazel Thompson is a trustee of Home-Start Wirral

What does being a trustee involve?
Every Trustee role (such as the chair person, vice chair, secretary and treasurer) comes with different duties.  My role is Vice Chair. I feel that at Home-Start Wirral we have a very active trustee board and all the trustees are involved in different sub-groups in the organisation, through which we share our knowledge, skills and experience. I’m involved in a number of the sub groups and also provide support and supervision for the CEO.

How did you become a trustee at Home-Start?
I helped to set up Home-Start when I was a Community Resource Officer and was approached by Charing Cross Methodist Minister, Reverend Pat Billsborrow, to help set up a Home-Start in Birkenhead. She had been involved with Home-Start in the North East and had seen how effective it had been in supporting families in other area of the UK.  I was involved in identifying possible funding and then became an advisor on the panel that appointed the first co-ordinator 13 years ago.

What is your area of expertise?
I’m a “Jill of all Trades”! I have experience in managing organisations, administration, networking, policy writing and a  knowledge of human resources gained from working  in the private, public and voluntary sectors. As a consultant I have also helped organisations to access funding, develop their trustee boards, set up social enterprises  and undertaken a variety of roles supporting organisational development.   

Can you tell us about the board of Trustees?
 The board of trustees consists of the Chair Person, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and a number of other skilled Trustees. We meet bi-monthly to discuss the strategic direction of the organisation,  progress/status reports from the CEO, look at the finances and discuss any other business.  Immediately prior to these meetings we have Management Committee Meetings attended by the trustees and advisors  from the statutory sector who are able to provide expertise on a range of issues, for example Safeguarding, and also support partnership working between Home-Start Wirral and statutory services providing support to children and families.

What’s the most difficult aspect of being a trustee?
Ensuring we have finances to continue to deliver our services in the community. As statutory funding usually needs to be applied for annually and other funding does not always follow the same time scale, we have to have contingency plans to ensure continuity of service in case our applications are not successful.  The charitable sector is an uncertain one financially and organisations can very quickly find themselves in a position where a funding stream ends and cannot be replaced so services have to close or be drastically reduced.  This can have a huge impact on both service users and the organisation itself.

What motivates you?
I’m motivated knowing that my actions as a trustee help Home-Start to support families to move on, they help people who are struggling and give them a hand when they need it the most. I know how difficult it is, having been a lone parent myself with 3 children.  You do the best for your family no matter what the odds are to give  your children the opportunity to grow up to be well rounded, secure and settled.  I would have loved to have had a Home-Start around then to give me some help and support.

What advice would you give to people who are thinking about becoming a trustee?
Just do it and become a Trustee!
You get the satisfaction of seeing your organisation grow and support others. You see the benefits your organisation gives to the community and how it changes lives.
If you're retired it’s a way of keeping your skills active, meeting new people, and it gives you a purpose and a continuation of work. The reasons are endless!

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