“There is so much expertise and skill out there”. Feature article on the volunteer army of Trustees that keeps charities ticking

A VOLUNTEERING army exists across the UK, with which this country could not manage without.

Down every street or around every corner, you will find different non-profit-making organisations, which are offering vital help and support to people of all ages.

But what people forget is that every such organisation needs its own ‘board of trustees’ – these are people who also give their time freely to ensure the smooth running and governance of such bodies.

Without these trustees, the 185,000 charities that exist in the UK today would not be able to run. Often retired professionals or working people with specific areas of interest, they will dedicate their time to such Boards.

One such person, who falls into the latter category, is Mandy Johnson. Mandy enjoys the challenges of her paid role as Chief Executive of the Lincoln and Lindsey Blind Society, but also recognises the value of volunteering as a trustee and sits on the board at VANEL, (Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire).

The Blind Society, which offers services in North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, north Lincoln and East and West Lindsey, is a charity and as such has its own board of trustees, to which Mandy is answerable. She therefore sees things from two different perspectives.

“My own trustees’ role with VANEL allows me to see things very much from both sides,” she said.

“From my own organisation’s point of view, we do often see trustees join us because the Society has helped them or a relative. Our board numbers are between three and 18 and we are running with about nine at present, with 75 per cent over the age of 65 so it would be nice to see some younger people join us.

“For a younger person, sight loss is not something that they will normally think about – they may have the attitude that it will never happen to them, but it may do as they get older and that is why our Society is so vital,” added Mandy.

From VANEL’s perspective having people like Mandy on its Board is vital. As a Grimsby-based non-profit-making organisation itself, it exists to help other charities with a strong emphasis on volunteering.

VANEL Development Manager Karl Elliott said: “Like Mandy has demonstrated, there are many different reasons why people will become a trustee. While such a position brings certain responsibility, what you are ultimately doing is giving back to your community and whether that is a village hall committee, or a larger charitable organisation, the contributions of trustees are vital.”

Karl urged companies across Lincolnshire to look at encouraging employees to take an active role in charity boards, as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies.

“Trustees are vital to the success and existence of charities. There is so much expertise and skill out there and by giving just a small amount of that to a particular charity, a company would be helping so much,” he added.

Article by Michelle Lalor and Karl Elliott
Appears in Lincolnshire edition of The Journal May 2019.

For further information about Trusteeship or Trustee volunteering opportunities please contact Karl Elliott at VANEL (karl@vanel.org.uk, 01472 361043)