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My role as a Trustee at St Catherine’s Hospice

This week is Trustees Week; an annual event which aims to highlight and celebrate the vital role of a trustee, as well as demonstrate the opportunities for others to get involved. Trustees are the people in charge of governing a charity and have shared responsibility for the overall running of the organisation. As we’re a charity, we are governed by a board of volunteer Trustees who help us make sure that everything we do is of the best quality. Here, Lisa Compton tells us about her role as a Trustee at St Catherine’s Hospice.

“Having retired in the spring of 2017 after many years in the NHS, I was looking at ways in which I could use my skills and apply my life experience in a new context. I wanted to make a positive difference to something I cared about, while at the same time gaining some personal fulfilment and an additional interest from giving something back to the community. I was looking into various different options when I heard about the opening for a trustee at St. Catherine’s from a friend who worked there, and it sounded like an ideal opportunity for me. Having lived and worked in Sussex and Surrey for almost 40 years, I was very aware of the excellent reputation of St. Catherine’s, and through my work in the NHS I had met many people with a positive first-hand experience of the services that the hospice provided. I believed in the values of St Catherine’s, and also felt I could support and add value to the organisation in return.

I did some research into the role of a trustee, and attended an Open Event at the hospice, where I was very impressed at the passion of the officers and trustees present. Their commitment convinced me that this was an organisation I’d like to become involved with, and confirmed that the role would be a good fit for me, in terms of my interests, experience and what I would be able to contribute to the Board.

Having been a trustee for a year now, I think I’ve gained considerable benefits from the role. It’s helped me broaden my interests and develop my knowledge, especially in understanding how the hospice’s day-to-day affairs, budget and strategic direction are managed, and how the charity is regulated. I’ve met new and interesting people and had a chance to use my decision-making and strategic thinking skills which would otherwise go to waste.

Being a trustee has really provided a balance in my life, as it’s a flexible way of giving back to the community that fits with my lifestyle. I have particularly enjoyed meeting the people involved in some of the community fundraising events – for example, the Friends of St. Catherine’s and those local people who open their gardens to the public. I love hearing about why they are involved with St. Catherine’s, and it is a privilege to listen to the stories they tell of their experiences with the hospice. For me, this is a real benefit of being part of a local charity.

The advice I’d give to someone thinking of becoming a trustee would be to ensure that they cared about the work of the charity, and shared the values of the organisation – I think this is essential. They should be very sure about the level of commitment required, and equally about the amount of support they would be offered – it can be quite daunting at first being a new trustee. I would advise them to meet informally with an established trustee, and ask all the questions they wouldn’t be able to ask at interview. I’d also advise meeting informally with someone from the management team, so as to get some understanding of the organisation from the staff perspective. I met with the Director of Care Services prior to applying for the role, which was very helpful in broadening my knowledge of the clinical services provided – this reinforced my decision that St. Catherine’s was an organisation I wanted to work with. Finally, I’d just say that although the trustee role is hard work, it can also be a lot of fun – so enjoy it!”

We’re currently recruiting for two new Trustees. If you’re feeling inspired to find out more, please register your interest by emailing Peter Nesbitt on: volunteering@stch.org.uk or calling him on: 01293 447351.

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