Zetetick’s new chair explains why you might want to be a charity trustee
Trustees have overall control of a charity and are responsible for making sure it’s doing what it was set up to do. They have different backgrounds, experiences and interests, and this diversity is vital to ensure that a variety of skills and capabilities are there to positively influence the shaping and development of an organisation. Most trustees are volunteers and although they don’t get paid for their role, the opportunity to give back and experience personal growth and development is sufficient reward for those concerned. However, trustees can claim reasonable expenses.
It’s helping with the essentials of life
Martin is the chair of trustees at Zetetick. He has lead the board through the tough times of COVID and helped complete a recent review, looking at how good we are at governance. He was a senior civil servant for 20 years, including 3 years as environment and housing advisor in Number 10.
When he left the civil service in 2015 it was partly at least because he wanted to spend more time doing what he could to help the two things which throughout his career have had the most emotional connection: housing and water. Although the two are very different, they have one thing in common: they are two of the essentials of life and that is an authentic call to be a charity trustee.
Commitment to a cause
So why Zetetick? Martin says:
Well I’ve been on housing association boards for 15 years, so I hope I can add some value. I also feel that small locally based housing provision is something which too often gets forgotten in the ‘big is best’ thinking which can dominate in housing. But also, about 2 years ago, I was chatting to an acquaintance of my mother-in-law who has been running sheltered accommodation for 20 years. Her commitment and the way she talked about her role struck a real chord.
It’s important to stand up for what’s right
At Zetetick we have been asking the question: “why be a charity trustee?” Well, Zetetick Housing helps people who cannot find housing themselves and who need things which Zetetick can provide better than anyone: and as Martin says “if that isn’t important I don’t know what is”.
Connecting and building trust
So we asked, what else does Martin do? In his words… Well, professionally I chair something called the Southern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, which oversees the spending on all the flood defences in the south of England.
I am a visiting fellow at University College London and on the boards of BPHA – a large but locally based housing association based in Bedford – and of the South East Rivers Trust, which tries to look after and clean up some of the world important chalk streams in the south-east (did you know that of the only 200 chalk streams in the whole world, two-thirds are in the south of England!)
I also have advisory roles on the impacts of climate change – it’s getting hotter people, and the sea level is rising – and so are energy and water bills.
It adds another dimension to his life
When I’m not working I play cricket, hill walk and sing. But none of those at present – partly because of Covid, but also because we have a new puppy: my teenager daughter is really happy about this, we’re coming round slowly!
Trustees – more for you
If this has answered some of your questions and you are interested in volunteering to become a Trustee for Zetetick, we would love to hear from you. Hopefully, the background of current trustees will have encouraged and inspired you. We have people who worked in Number 10 and people who work in their own back yard, because it takes a range of skills to help direct and guide a charity. Being a Trustee may be a way for you to take advantage of the opportunity to broaden your horizons, share your knowledge and to help a group of people who will genuinely benefit.
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