In celebration of Trustees’ Week, we asked Anne-Helene, the Chair of our Board of Trustees to share her experience of becoming a Trustee and the work she does.
I first volunteered at Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea (VCKC) to take the minutes at Board meetings and then an opportunity to join as a Trustee opened up. This was 10 years ago and I’ve never looked back! The Volunteer Centre is uniquely placed in K&C because it helps local people, charities and institutions find each other and join forces to make a positive difference in our borough. It is this collective drive towards the common good which I really enjoy as a trustee, which is why the tag line for the forthcoming Trustees’ Week ‘Many voices. Working together. With purpose’ really resonates with me.
At VCKC we try to bring many different perspectives to our Board, be it in terms of professional backgrounds, lived experience and personal identities. Our trustees are a mix of residents, former employees, past service users, professionals in the private sector or colleagues in local voluntary or statutory organisations. This diversity helps us work on our services becoming more equitable, as well as giving us the range of experience and skills to deal with the vast variety of decisions we have to make together. It also allows everybody to speak without feeling self-conscious or judged as there are no right or wrong answers, only a common goal to do our collective best for the Volunteer Center. Several of our trustees have no prior Board experience and joined after attending a few of our meetings as observers, an opportunity we offer so that potential candidates can see what it’s like for themselves.
As trustees we decide, with the help of the staff team, on what the Volunteer Centre should try and achieve , and how it responds to crises and changes in its environment. I’ve been fascinated to read the recent Works-4U report on the monetary value of trustees, which in K&C is estimated at £92m a year (equivalent to 18% of our Council’s annual budget). Of course the value of volunteering resides precisely in the fact that it is unpaid and its impact is much greater than what can be priced – but these figures still give an idea of how much trustees (and other volunteers) contribute to local life!
I’ve been on the board of the Volunteer Centre for a while now but i still find that there’s always something new, that I’m learning all the time, from an eclectic, dedicated and fun group of people – all of which is incredibly stimulating and rewarding.Anne-Helene Biosse-Duplan, Chair of our Board Of Trustees