Could You Be A Trustee?
“It helps to be a curious person who is interested in people”
Read our Q&A with one of our newest Trustees – Archdeacon Rhiannon King
How did you become a trustee of Community Action Suffolk?
It was quite simple really. I was approached by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich who in turn had been approached by Baroness Ros (a retiring trustee) when she stepped down. I believe there is a good culture of outgoing trustees trying to find their own replacement here and that’s exactly what happened. I expressed interest and then met up with some of the key people who grilled me a little and somehow gave me a thumbs up!
This all happened just a few months ago so I’m very much a newbie to CAS trying to learn the ropes, although I have been in trustee roles in other charities for several years. Each time I learn so much and usually make some good friends and contacts.
Why did you want to become a Trustee?
Lots of reasons really. First, I work for the Church of England across Suffolk (also known as the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich). A bit of a mouthful I know! Anyway, we work with thousands of volunteers in villages, small market towns as well as in larger places like Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. In fact, some say we are the largest volunteer organisation in Suffolk so I thought it made sense to try and bring the two organisations closer together in case there might be things we can learn from each other. Already I’ve learnt lots so it seems to be working! Secondly, the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector (VCSE) has recently become the Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector in Suffolk (and many other counties) and I thought I might be able to bring something to the table in representing faith communities across Suffolk. Thirdly, I heard CAS was doing interesting things and who doesn’t want to be part of a dynamic and fun organisation ?
What do you do in this role?
I see my main role is to support the Chief Exec and staff at CAS, to encourage them and to do everything I can to help CAS to be the best it can be. Already it’s doing really well so I suppose it’s also about trying to help it get to the next level.
So far, my main goal has been to turn up whenever I can, to trustee and sub-committee meetings but also at awards ceremonies, parties and the staff away day. None of it is onerous and I have discovered a highly motivated staff team and some really clued-up people. It has been a real privilege.
What skills are helpful for the role?
I think it helps to be a curious person who is interested in people and the ways things work, ideally with a bit of experience in other organisations. It probably also helps if you are organised and committed and follow up on actions from meetings. It doesn’t need saying that people with HR, business and financial skills are always especially valuable.
How much time is involved?
I think trustee roles vary hugely and it partly depends how much time you have to put into it. I hope to be able to offer a few hours every month, but some will hopefully be able to offer far more.
How is being a Trustee different from being a volunteer?
It is a voluntary role, but it also has some legal responsibilities which you have to take seriously. Recently, I took an online ‘trustee test’ and was relieved to have gotten 9 out of 10 but if I had done it 10 years ago, I might only have got 5 so I know I’m learning lots all the time.
What do you enjoy most about being a Trustee?
Meeting and encouraging staff and sharing information and networks with the hope that I might be able to make a difference somewhere.
What support can you get as a Trustee?
Most organisations who look for trustees are only too happy to offer training and some induction. There are also numerous documents online and videos for those who are keen.
Any advice for anyone thinking about becoming a Trustee?
It’s worth making sure that the charity you’re thinking about is one you’re passionate about but once you’ve ascertained that, I’d say ‘Go For It!’ Charities need good trustees and if you have the time and the skills it’s a great way of giving back, making a difference and learning lots of new skills at the same time. And if you’re nervous, just chat it through with an existing trustee. They’ll tell you what it’s really like!
Interested in becoming a trustee? Then search for the latest vacancies advertised on the website Volunteer Suffolk – Be amazing. Be a volunteer