As part of Volunteers Week, we want to take a moment to recognise the work of our brilliant Board of Trustees who donate their time and expertise behind the scenes. They consistently go above and beyond to support the strategic development of our charity and to ensure we meet the needs of our community.
We asked some of our trustees to share a little bit about what they do and what their role means to them.
My great grandparents on both sides of my family were refugees. I know many people who arrived in this country on the Kinder Transport during the 2nd World War and were welcomed, supported and found a safe and purposeful life in the UK.
As a family we believe in true inclusion, equality, justice and fairness. We got involved with volunteering with St Augustine’s 7 years ago and became a host family for young adult refugees and asylum seekers. I have always been very interested in becoming an ally of St Augustines and supporting the growth and development of the charity.
I have been a trustee for 2.5 years. Being so connected to St Augustine’s has helped me meet like-minded people, give back to a worthwhile organisation and take an active role as a trustee. I have met so many interesting and wonderful people who come to St Augustine’s and who use the service, volunteer or are trustees.
I have been involved with recruitment of staff, developing relationships with local organisations, working alongside the women’s group Sisters United, networking, donating clothes to the shop, coming down to socialise in the cafe, working on the vision and mission of the organisation.
As a trustee you can help to shape the future of this exciting, dynamic and unique organisation. I have been able to use many of the skills and experiences developed over my life and career to give something back to this community. At the same time I have learnt so much, gained new friends and feel proud to be part of such a great team.
The board of Trustees makes sure that the organisation is run properly in the interests of the people we are there to support. We strategically oversee the management and running of St Augustine’s, working with our Director Sara and our excellent staff team. We work alongside people seeking asylum and refugees living in Calderdale and local people in Park Ward to build community, increase wellbeing and deliver great services. My own interest is in improving health and access to health services for St Augustine’s centre members; we are working with the NHS and other partners to do this.
We need more people with lived experience of seeking sanctuary on our Board of Trustees to make sure our work continues to be rooted in what they really want and need.
I personally get a great deal out of working with the whole St Augustine’s “family” and am proud to be part of it.
Why do you volunteer with St. Augustine’s as a trustee?
I volunteer with them as I think it is the time to give back. I have been given support and attention, the St. Augustine’s team is helpful and understanding, so I want to be part of St. Augustine’s family.
What specific role / responsibilities do you have?
The implicit role that everyone on the board expects me to undertake is to provide advice / knowledge and experience in asylum-seeking and refugee issues. They are looking to hear different perspectives and represent experts by experience.
Why do you think your contribution to the board is especially vital?
I think that is because I am the only one on the board with lived experience. They are planning and designing services to provide services to asylum seekers, refugees, immigrants, so i think i am the only voice at the strategic level to hear.
It is essential to inspire them and from time to time remind them of hidden issues that they are not aware of as they haven’t been in such a journey. It is crucial to listen to those whom you serve and adopt the service and that is why I believe I am playing a strategic role towards better outcomes.
What do you gain (ie skills, experience, satisfaction) from being a trustee?
Connection, negotiation skills as I have to convince them on the feasibility of ideas.
Why should other people step up and volunteer to be trustees?
Being a trustee is a window chance as EbE would understand more on how to tackle issues strategically and build a network. It is also about looking at the future and not holding ourselves to the past or limitations. It is also about integrating within the community and getting knowledge of the charity sector. It is about utilising skills and gaining new skills.
Are you interested in becoming a trustee?
We will soon be launching a process to find a number of new Trustees and a new Chair of Trustees for the Centre. Our Trustees have the overall oversight of the charity. They are not involved in the day-to-day running of the charity but make decisions about the approach the charity will take and it’s future direction. They act as guardians of the vision and values of the organisation and provide support, ideas and challenges to our staff team so that we can achieve the best we can for our centre members.
We are looking for people with a range of skills and experiences including some of the following:
- Lived experience of the asylum process,
- HR and/or the law
- Social enterprise/business development
- Communications and campaigning
- Fundraising and finance
We would also like more young people involved.
Most importantly we want people with passion and commitment to make a difference.
If you are interested or know anyone who might be then look out for further information in the next week or so, or contact Sara directly at firstname.lastname@example.org