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It’s important for a trustee board to reflect the people the charity seeks to serve. Many charities in the sight loss sector involve blind or partially sighted people as trustees.
But it shouldn’t stop there. Blind and partially sighted people are excellent problem solvers – as they have to do this every day of their lives. It’s one of the things that makes them a great asset to any board, not just sight loss charities
Bringing the experience of blind and partially sighted people to boards outside of the sector and those of commercial organisations will help them see the world differently and open up a unique and valuable perspective. Greater involvement from people with visual impairment at trustee level has the potential to create a more inclusive future and influence positive change.
According to the official Trustees Week website there are just over one million trustees supporting 196,000 charities in the UK. Trustees are volunteers who provide governance and leadership to a charity. They work as a team to ensure that the charity is fulfilling its objectives and that it is spending its money wisely. Becoming a trustee is a great way to share your skills, experience and time with a charity. It’s also an opportunity to develop your leadership skills and create new connections.
Less than 3% of charity trustees are under the age of 30 and many people are surprised to learn that you can become a trustee from the age of 16. The Young Trustee Movement aims to increase the quality and quantity of young trustees on boards in England and Wales.
People are unable to apply for a trusteeship if they have been previously disqualified as a trustee, if they are bankrupt or if they have certain convictions listed on the Gov.uk website
There are six key duties involved in a trusteeship. Trustees have a legal responsibility to:
You can learn more about becoming a trustee and their responsibilities in The Essential Trustee, published by government. This publication sets out everything a new trustee needs to know. NCVO has also published the easy read Good Trustee Guide which supports people with learning difficulties on boards of charitable trustees.
The role of the Chair is to lead meetings of the trustee board, acting as a figurehead for the charity and representing it at functions, meetings or in the press. The Chair leads on the development of the board, ensuring it has the right combination of skills amongst its trustees and that its decisions are implemented. This can be a demanding yet rewarding role which involves a significant time commitment.
There are many websites that advertise vacant trustee roles. It’s really important for anyone considering a trusteeship to undertake research to ensure it’s the right role and charity for you. Trusteeships are usually timebound so be clear on your expected length of service and the time commitment of the role. You should expect to follow a recruitment process and receive training and support at the start and throughout your appointment as a trustee.