Beyond the Inquisition – a reflection on our recent Trustees Question Time event

Taking part in this joint event with our colleagues at Hunts Forum has been one of the highlights for me, of what has been a challenging year.  The Question Time panel was diverse, informed and inspirational and they sent out some clear messages in response to the varied questions put to them.[1]

On diversity; we can’t sit and wait for it to happen we need to get out there and talk to people, let them see who we are, what we do and how they could make a difference.  We need to ask ourselves:

  • Do we look like somewhere that welcomes people from different backgrounds and experiences? 
  • Are we advertising our opportunities in places that a more diverse audience will see them?
  • Are we removing unnecessary barriers to encourage people to find out more?  Are we set up to recognise people’s potential, offering support and mentoring where needed? 
  • Do we know about the motivations, skills and interests of our fellow trustees?  What are the gaps in our knowledge bank, how will we plug these gaps?
  • Is our culture open to difference? When are meetings held?  Do we encourage trustees to claim expenses so that those on low incomes are not disadvantaged?
  • Can we take advantage of the help on offer?  For example, the Young Trustees Movement  exists to help develop a relationship between organisations and young people so that they can contribute their leadership skills within an open and supportive environment.

To lead our organisations through this crisis we need to be willing to learn and to listen to all our stakeholders. We need to

  • Think ahead to plan effectively 
  • Look for evidence to demonstrate the impact of what we are doing
  • Seek to mitigate the impact of increased stress and isolation on staff and volunteer teams
  • Collaborate with others  

All this needs to happen as we ensure that we keep our charitable purpose at the heart of what we do.

To discuss any of these issues further feel free to contact the development team at Hunts Forum or CCVS.  You might also be interested in upcoming online training our organisations offer, free to the voluntary sector, as part of our Support Cambridgeshire project particularly:

  • Effective Business planning which includes developing a theory of change planning model and putting together a business plan.  26th November 9.30 to 12
  • Essential skills for trustees. A two-part event will take place over 2 evenings one week apart aimed at giving trustees from community organisations and small charities the essential tools to perform their role safely and effectively. 18th & 21st January 6pm to 8pm

Written by Chris Trevorrow training and development worker for CCVS


[1] Out trustee Question time panellists:

Virginia Henley, Head of Charities, Education and Social Enterprise at Hewitsons LLP Northampton. She is a school governor and a trustee. Virginia specialises in advising charities, universities and schools, and a wide range of not-for-profit organisations on the core legal, regulatory and governance issues they face.

Monica Brown, Head of Charity Advisory and Programmes at the Charities Aid Foundation. She is an experienced senior charity executive with extensive experience of working in and with the voluntary sector including 12 years as the National Head of England for BBC Children in Need.

Anthony Wheeler, East of England Ambassador for the Young Trustees Movement and Chair of Trustees of Cambridge Student Community Action. Anthony first became a trustee at 20 and is passionate about empowering young people and breaking down barriers. He’s part of the 1% of trustees under 26 and 3% under 30.

Patricia Rose, The Diversity Trust – Pat Rose is part of the Windrush generation who came from the Caribbean to the UK as child in the sixties. The challenges of growing up in a predominantly white working-class background inspired a lifelong commitment to Equality and Social Justice. In 2014 Pat won the Mental Health Professional Award in the BBC radio 4’s “All in the mind” National Awards.

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