Reflections on a Dynamic First Year as a Trustee: Charlotte Hanson

After 20 years working within the voluntary and community sector, I began actively looking for a Trustee role where I could both lend my expertise and listen and learn from others. It was vital to me that, with a busy work-life schedule, I found a cause which I truly believed in with local impact and resonance; and where my particular skill set would add value. Whilst time commitments can vary enormously depending on your capacity, such a role will always require dedicated space and time for thoughtful reflection and response.

Exeter Community Initiatives is an Exeter-based charity working to enable local community action and to improve the lives of Exeter and Devon’s most vulnerable populations. I applied to be a trustee when the charity were in the process of reinvigorating their Board – looking for a more diverse range of members that could navigate the charity towards a clear articulated and financially sustainable position.

With organisations as broad in delivery as ECI, it takes a while to gain a full understanding of the charity’s reach and its operating context. This was needless to say compounded by Covid, without the usual opportunities to build relationships in person during this period. However, despite these challenges, these first few months have been hugely rewarding, working with fellow Trustees to ensure that staff are supported to manoeuvre safely through the impacts of Covid for the benefit of the charity and community. It has also facilitated new collaborations in my professional role at Exeter Northcott Theatre.

Choosing the right organisation to volunteer for is key. Acting as a Trustee for a local organisation not only provides an opportunity to really feel, see and hear the impact of its work on people and communities in your local area; but also to build relationships with a wide range of people across sectors and backgrounds that share this common purpose. Its’s an opportunity to be part of a community with the agency to enable meaningful social change.

Charlotte Hanson, Impact and Development professional for social good.