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John McCafferty’s Experience as Trustee for Inclusion Barnet

10th November 2022

You’re pretty much taking on the call of a modern-day superhero…

We’re delighted to have John McCafferty as Trustee for our partnership organisation Inclusion Barnet. For Trustees Week 2022, John shares some of his remarkable experiences with us…

Tell us a little about yourself and the Trustee role you are volunteering for?

A 40 year old wheelchair user who , damaged my neck at 21, so I have had a high level spinal injury since and have received both NHS and Social care support throughout.

I have volunteered and worked for various charities, originally seeing volunteering simply as an opportunity to fill some free time – and was later offered a Trustee position.

I have been a CEO of local arts charity since 2019 and was involved there as a Trustee and chair from 2010-19. I was recently appointed as a Trustee of Inclusion Barnet, which is a charitable incorporated organisation, so am involved in discussions with their CEO, Chair and other Trustees at their quarterly online board meetings; to review the performance and activities of the last three months. Essentially offering a critical eye, advice or supportive guidance.

What were your motivations and reservations when considering becoming a Trustee?

Giving back to the community feels purposeful, it’s an opportunity for growth being able to help others using learned skills

  • Testing your boundaries
  • Meeting new people with similar aspirations.
  • The time required to effectively assist is worth noting; as how much of myself could I realistically offer without stretching too much.

How did you find out about the Trustee role?

Through word of mouth from a former employee of Inclusion Barnet whom I had worked with there as a Peer Support Broker. We offered information, advice and support planning to disabled people in the London Borough of Barnet, so we have knowledge of the organisation, some of its staff and a few of their Trustees.

What was the recruitment process for the Trustee role? How did the experience make you feel?

I emailed the CEO saying I had been told that the charity was looking for new Trustees and I may be interested in joining the board. The nature of the board varies on the structure of the charity: their rules are written in their memorandum – articles of association which sounds fancier than it is! – It’s a legal document stating the rules of the charity, a how-to guide that Trustees follow.

The process felt quite ‘light touch’, probably because of former experience and having direct contact with some of the board members previously.

I was offered the opportunity to observe a Trustee meeting and given some reading material on the charity’s aims and objectives. I briefly added to the discussion in their meeting when I thought appropriate ideas may be useful and I was voted in by the Trustees after I left the meeting. My address details were needed to register on the Charity Commission website.

I felt comfortable and supportive throughout the process.

How did your skills fit the Trustee position?

I have a good understanding of what the charity does. I am local and being able to listen and converse in a group setting helps.

A large part of being a Trustee is being able and willing to commit for a year or more, I’ve seen some skilled Trustees exit for a number of reasons over the years but mainly because they had other commitments.

What advice would you give to organisations when looking to recruit a Trustee?What would make you want to apply for a Trustee position?

Consider…

  • What are the needs and risks of the charity?
  • Why do you need more Trustees and what skillsets are missing?
  • Who do the current Trustees and the charity assist?

A job description on the requirements of a Trustee is useful so that any advertisement can reach a broad but targeted audience. Trustees are more likely to stay if they have a clear understanding of expectations. Charity Commission law has changed recently so Trustees can be paid but this is broadly a voluntary position, particularly with payments being finite in the third (charity) sector.

What advice would you give to other volunteers thinking of becoming a Trustee who may not feel they fit the profile of a Trustee?
  • Check the charity’s website (if they have one) that you would like to apply for. Also read their last set of Annual Accounts, searching on the charity commission’s website – as it gives an overview of their activities and recent performances going back five years.
  • Charities often offer free training courses for Trustees to improve their knowledge and effectiveness.
  • Many charities struggle to find Trustees; they need at least three in attendance for meetings to go ahead (quorum).
  • A charity may request a CV from you, there are financial figures involved but usually the treasurer leads on this so don’t be worried if they’re not one of your strengths.

How many hours per month does your role as Trustee occupy and how does this fit around your other commitments such as personal life or paid employment?

Roughly 2-3 hours a month. Board meetings are quarterly lasting 1-2 hours each, plus reading emails and documents. Usually, the chairman and treasurer sign off large payments going out from the charity. Sometimes a Trustee does this if one isn’t available. Responses are usually given on evenings and weekends, or in other periods of free time like a lunch break if it’s a quick email response.

Why are you proud to be a Trustee?

At times it can be a difficult task. You’re pretty much taking on the call of a modern-day superhero, being able to represent people and an organisation that aid the community is key for personal development and the growth of society. With great power comes great…


If you would like to find a new volunteering experience, or would like to see how volunteering can work for you, email us on enquiry@volunteeringbarnet.org.uk or you can search our database here to find your perfect role!


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