Trustee Week 2023
Trustee Week is all about celebrating the brilliant work of charity trustees. This year’s theme is “Many Voices. Working Together. With purpose.” At Leeds Mencap we are incredibly lucky to have a lovely team of dedicated trustees who lend their expertise in a range of areas and work together to ensure our charity is the best we can be!
Earlier in the year, as part of our ongoing 70th anniversary celebrations, our volunteer Shuyue, sat down with Kate, on of our trustees to find out more about her motivations behind joining Leeds Mencap.
What motivated you to join Leeds Mencap’s Board of Trustees and how does your professional experience help you be a good trustee?
In 2006 I applied for a job as a Fundraiser. I had no experience in fundraising but as a tenacious 20 something felt I could give it a go. I have always been passionate about supporting charities and have a strong sense of social justice, so it felt like the aqvenue for me. Somehow, I got the job and that job was with Leeds Mencap.
Fast forward 17 or so years and I have built a career in the voluntary sector, now leading a large Income Generation team at Yorkshire’s largest Hospice. This was all thanks to Leeds Mencap taking a chance on me and showing me just how important charitable causes are.
I am still in touch with many of the families and supporters I met during my time at Leeds Mencap and it has always held a special place in my heart. To return as a Trustee is a real privilege and I hope that my experience in the sector brings value to the board.
What kind of tasks do you do as a trustee and how do you balance your responsibility?
As a Trustee at Leeds Mencap, I have been involved largely in supporting the Fundraising and Marketing teams, who, with limited resource do an absolutely sterling job! As someone who works in a charity, there is a fine line I am careful not to cross (sometimes unsuccessfully) in becoming too operational. My role is very much to guide, offer advice and challenge where appropriate.
I was also involved in the recruitment of a new CEO which was an interesting process. In our 70th year a new CEO is a great thing and can take forward all the hard work of their predecessor, launching Leeds Mencap into the next chapter.
As a board we work well together, bringing different skills and experience, both professionally and personally. The common denominator is that we are all hugely passionate about Leeds Mencap and the work it does.
My key challenge is juggling responsibilities and making sure I dedicate enough time to my duties as a trustee. I don’t want to be there in name only and hope that despite a young family and a challenging job, I bring my whole self to the role and do as much as I can to support this fantastic cause.
What have you gained whilst working as a trustee?
While working as a trustee I have gained a real sense of responsibility in a way you perhaps don’t as a charity employee. We are ultimately accountable for the safe running and sustainability of this important cause and that is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
When people find out I am a Trustee, they think of it as a nice thing to have on your CV. It is much more than that though, it’s about playing your part in community and doing something good. I am so fortunate to have had the career in the VCSE I have had so far, it’s great to be able to put it to good use.
What do you think of Leeds Mencap’s work and our impact on the local community?
Leeds Mencap’s story is incredibly rich, from where it started and the impact it has had on so many families over its 70 year history. From Challenge Anneka in the 90s, to relaunching the Hawthorn Family Support Centre in 2007, to the incredible community building we have created now. Leeds Mencap is part of the fabric of the LS9 community as well as supporting those from across the city and I couldn’t be more proud to be involved.
As a trustee, I want to say thank you to everyone who sustains the charity, our children and families using the nursery, those who rent our rooms, people accessing our services, donors, funders, volunteers and staff. Everyone is part of our history and I look forward to them being part of the story for the next 70 years!