What's it like being a Contact trustee?
We spoke to our trustee Angela about what's involved in being a member of Contact's Board of Trustees.
We have two vacancies to become a Contact trustee - find out how to apply.
How long have you been a trustee for Contact?
I've been a trustee since June 2018.
What made you become one of Contact's trustees?
Contact helped my family with information when my son was little, before his disabilities were fully diagnosed, but they really backed us up when we were fighting for his respite centre to stay open.
It showed me that Contact were prepared to be there for families, to help us campaign for the things our children need. So, I applied to be a trustee to help Contact reach and support other families like ours.
What do you do as a trustee?
I go to four Board meetings a year and help make decisions about the strategy that Contact should follow to best support families like ours. I'm also on a subcommittee of the Board that meets four times per year, we focus on Governance, Strategy and People.
You need to put some time in before each meeting to read the papers so you are ready to comment or ask questions. I also help out with one-off tasks like talking to trusts or businesses who might fund Contact's work or recruiting senior staff. I am always supported by Contact staff members when I do this.
My role is usually to bring the parent's perspective, so being willing to talk about what families like ours need is important.
How do you fit being a trustee in with your caring role and job?
Parent carers are great at juggling, so you've got the skills! I work part time, I also care for my young son and his sister. I talked to my family and my work place about how and why I wanted to fit this role in. They have supported me with the extra care time I need and some flexibility around my working hours.
It is so rewarding to be a trustee that it is worth doing it.
What do you get out of being a trustee for Contact?
I know that I am supporting a charity that is making a difference to families like mine. My views at meetings are taken seriously and Contact is stronger for having parent carers at the heart of what it does.
I have developed lots of skills as a trustee that are useful in my working life. Being a parent carer can be frustrating at times, health, social care and education services don't always listen. I feel that through volunteering with Contact I am supporting a charity that is challenging and improving the organisations that work with families like mine.
What would you say are the most important attributes a trustee should have?
You should be prepared to share your views and be willing to listen to other people's point of view. You need to be reliable, turning up (even when they're online!) to meetings when you've said you will. It's a good idea to be prepared so you need to be willing to read ahead and come up with the questions you want answering before the meeting.
Don't be afraid of asking 'the stupid' question, the chances are everyone else is thinking it and you are likely to get to the heart of the issue by asking it.
Would you recommend becoming one of Contact's trustees to other parent carers - and if so why?
Yes, with bells on! The closer you get to this fantastic organisation, the more you can see how hard it is working for families like ours. You have something important to share: your real experiences of life as a parent carer.
By being a trustee and sharing that perspective, you can keep strengthening Contact to reach families sooner in their journey, give them great support on the right issues, and campaign for improvements in the services that touch our lives. It is really rewarding and you will meet some great people along the way!
Thanks Angela for speaking to us about your role!