Wednesday November 6, 2013
I've been involved with Safe Space for just over three years now, and am hugely enjoying the role. If you're thinking about becoming a trustee, hopefully my experience - and the experience of others that you can read about on theTrustees' Week website will help you make up your mind!
I'd been looking to get involved with a local charity for some time and had been active in another charity on a fixed project basis. It was during this work that I'd met the Chair of Safe Space, who invited me to find out more about them. Safe Space were a really interesting charity for me - local, dedicated and with a cause that has a high demand for its services, yet is difficult to promote. I wasn't entirely sure exactly what I could offer, but hoped that my business and HR skills might be of some use. So I applied to become a Trustee, had an interview and got the role!
What do I get out of it? A sense of perspective and reality. I work for a very large company and have good resources at my fingertips, meaning that I can get things done when I need to. I find that working with Safe Space reminds me that there is more to the world than business and that every penny is precious and should be treated with respect. I take that back to the teams I work with too - it really helps us be more careful in our decisions.
What do Safe Space get out of it? Since I joined I've had to turn my hand to all kinds of things in the hope of making a difference. Anything from advising on HR issues to running workshops, from finding pro bono experts to support us in moving space, to rolling up our sleeves and bringing together a gang of volunteers to run our biggest fundraiser yet, the Safe Space Write-a-thon. We raised over £20,000 this year from that one initiative, which was a great achievement and something we're all very proud of. What I really hope they get out of it is a sense of support and willingness to help. I also hope that they get a different perspective from me, and some benefit from my experience in the corporate world.
What would my advice be to someone who wants to get involved? Be prepared to be patient and understanding, and make a decent commitment - to be at the things you say you will, and to be involved for a while. Accept that every idea you have won't be right for your charity, but every now and then, some of them might just fly. Expect this to take up some of your time and know that you won't always get a warm fuzzy feeling just because you decided to get involved. In return for all of that, I guarantee you'll get more than you imagined - you'll meet new people and get to be a small part of an inspirational world where people do things because it's the right thing to do, not because they're trying to make a profit.