A4S is a Bedford-based charity working in the education sector, with young people from across Bedfordshire and beyond. They help to change and improve the lives of young people by engaging them with positive and personalised learning experiences. The organisation works primarily with young people referred from schools and complementary education centres. Their purpose is to ‘Engage, Encourage, Educate.’
Matt Lee is Project Manager at A4S and works very closely with the organisation’s trustees, knowing that without their input A4S wouldn’t be able to operate and work as a charity. The trustees have overall legal responsibility for the charity and therefore have a massively important and responsible role to play.
A4S trustees are passionate about helping to change the lives of disadvantaged young people. They are accountable for delivering safe and high-quality activities to enrolled and referred young people, in line with the objectives of the charity. They also take seriously their responsibility for the welfare and development of all staff and volunteers working for the organisation. Trustees meet regularly and work closely with A4S staff to provide clear direction and sound governance of the charity. In doing so, they consider all that is needed to ensure that A4S can deliver a sustainable service for the local community.
As individuals, today’s trustees have all been involved in working directly with young people and they bring a wealth of experience from the education, health and financial sectors, and of running successful local businesses. Matt says:
“ We are fortunate to have extremely responsible, committed, passionate, caring, selfless and hardworking trustees at our organisation.”
There are currently five trustees at A4S, headed up by chair, Brian Burke. They have differing backgrounds, different skill sets and differing personalities but have in common a commitment, drive and keen ownership of their responsibility to the sustainability and work of the charity. The work experience of the team ranges from running a gardening services business, to accountancy and management consultancy, sixth-form teaching, Energy Consultancy and charity experience. The charity has found it helpful to use the PQASSO quality assurance framework to match the individual skill sets of their trustees to specific quality assurance areas along with the key staff members involved in those areas.
As with all organisations, A4S has had its share of challenges, changes and change in personnel. Having a trustee who has worked through all of this over a number of years with the organisation has been invaluable to A4S. Keith Williams co-founded the charity in 2005 along with Gary Richardson. Previously known as ‘Energize’ and ‘Energize Transformation’ the organisation started as a social enterprise providing transformation services for individuals, organisations and communities – most notably the “Safe Space” 1-2-1 mentoring project. Keith has maintained an involvement throughout the intervening years, having taken the roles of both Chair of Trustees, and CEO. Currently a trustee, Keith continues to put in many hours and much wisdom, thought and effort into helping the organisation succeed, improve and continually look to the future. Amongst other achievements, he has instigated and implemented new projects, led initiatives to improve the sustainability of A4S, inspired improvements in team working and worked to improve fundraising. His commitment comes from an underlying focus on the main objective of the organisation to help disadvantaged young people.
Matt believes that it is people like Keith that really highlight the importance of trustees and what they do for the healthy survival of a lot of charities and organisations. The value of key skills, vision, care and selfless dedication that, like Keith, so many trustees possess, is what keeps charities and voluntary organisations going and ensures that they continue to thrive. The staff at A4S are certainly grateful for all that their trustees do for them.
From his experience, Matt helpfully suggested a list of key attributes of a good trustee
All charitable organisations are governed by trustees and there are always opportunities to become involved for those with the right skills, abilities, and a passion for the vision of the charity they are considering. It is important to realise that being a trustee comes with significant responsibilities and a good guide to these can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-essential-trustee-what-you-need-to-know-cc3.
CVS runs training for trustees from time to time and can help on matters of governance and funding as well as volunteer recruitment.. If you would like to consider becoming a trustee for a local organisation you can find out about vacancies that we are promoting throughout November by speaking to the Volunteering Advisor at CVS – email firstname.lastname@example.org, 01234 354 366. Also, keep a look-out on CVS twitter feed @CVSbeds – we will be featuring all things trustee-related throughout November.