Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Guest Blog: New Trustee training in Birmingham, from BVSC

Alison Sheffield from BVSC describes the organisation's involvement in Trustees' Week and the new training workshops available for people interested in becoming trustees.

As part of our Trustees’ Week celebrations at BVSC, we put on a series of training workshops for people who were interested in becoming a trustee but intimidated by the jargon and unsure of the responsibilities.  This decision was made in response to earlier one-off training sessions held at BVSC that highlighted a need and desire for deeper discussion.

So during October, 20 people of all ages from the private and voluntary sector – both new trustees and potential trustees – met on a weekly basis at Brewin Dolphin on Colmore Row to hear from key speakers and explore ideas around charities, governance and being part of an effective Board through case studies and group discussion.

Our high quality speakers included Tracey O’Brien, David Oxtoby and Karl George MBE, and the group were put through their paces exploring difficult themes which led to lively conversations and in-depth questions. 

Feedback provided shows that the Series was successful and met the objectives of delegates, improving their understanding of a trustee’s role in the voluntary sector. Some will use the skills learnt to make their Board more effective while others gained the confidence to approach charities with trustee vacancies.

Our final celebratory session on Wednesday 6th November, to coincide with Trustees’ Week, brought in a number of local community organisations looking to refresh or enhance their Board. A short introduction from each of the charity representatives painted a colourful picture of the fantastic work that Birmingham’s voluntary sector achieves and gave our delegates a good insight into the kind of role they could undertake. 

This fresh approach to trusteeships has proved a real success and we hope to put further sessions on in 2014. Becoming a trustee of a charity is a valuable way for skilled professionals to get involved in their local community but there are barriers that prevent them from applying and that prevent organisations from reaching them. Rumours of incompetent Boards, resistance to change, hefty responsibilities and complicated legal requirements all act as obstacles to bringing in the best people as charity trustees. But this Series went someway to tackle that, as one delegate noted, “the speaker at the first session was delightful and demystified the role of the Trustee in plain English!” 

In these times of new funding sources and changing legal structures we need to make sure our charitable Boards are made up of the very best people and equipped with the very best knowledge and skills. Keep an eye on www.bvsc.org/trustees for information about future training opportunities and current Board vacancies.

For more information please contact Alison Sheffield on 0121 678 8838 or alisons@bvsc.org

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