TRUSTEES WEEK 2017: TREVOR OWEN, LGBT HEALTH & WELLBEING

From 13th – 17th November, it’s National Trustees Week, highlighting the important role of Trustees in guiding and supporting Scotland’s charity sector. Each day we’ll be highlighting the stories of Trustees from across the LGBT+ community and the vital role they have in driving forward equality in Scotland.

Trevor Owen, Chairperson of LGBT Health & Wellbeing

SONY DSC“I remember when I first moved to Edinburgh in 2003, and came across the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing in Howe St – I thought it seemed like a super initiative, and thought about volunteering there although I didn’t really have the confidence and was always putting it off. When it closed in 2007, I felt like I’d missed the boat. So when it reopened in 2008, I took the plunge and helped out with the events team. It was a fantastic experience – we did lots of good stuff and the staff were a joy to work with. After a chat with the centre’s manager, I sat in on a few Board meetings and became a Trustee in 2009.”

“It’s been a hugely positive experience, and I feel like I’ve got an awful lot more out of it than I ever put in. Giving up your time to support something which makes a real difference to people who may be facing really challenging circumstances has made me feel that it’s been worthwhile. The organisation has real talent, energy and imagination, coupled with a solid track record of delivery. There’ve been many highlights, ranging from the successfully delivery of an event that people really enjoyed, to supporting the organisation as it develops its services, builds partnerships and has a greater geographical reach. The annual Prides are always tremendously upbeat. And the most recent highlight was our AGM, which was a really great celebration of the important work we’re doing around community development and developing services – every year, it helps to reconnect me to the vital work that the organisation does and the difference it makes.”

“For me personally, I’ve met and established great friendships with a whole different range of people. And I’ve gained confidence, skills and experience that has served me well both personally and professionally.”

“I think overall that trustees fulfil a mixture of roles. They are quite often part of the community the organisation serves, and it’s important to have that perspective. They also bring distinctive professional expertise that may not exist in a small or medium sized third sector organisation – our current Board have backgrounds in finance, human resources, social work, policy and digital. But most importantly, Trustees are in a position to stand back from the day to day work of the organisation and exercise scrutiny in a constructive and supportive way, to ensure that the organisation is well run and financially sustainable.”

“My advice to anyone thinking of being a Trustee is that it probably isn’t what you think it is – you don’t necessarily need to have loads of experience, nor do you have to be at the top of your profession. As long as you have a sensible head and a commitment to the values of the organisation you’re serving, then you’ll do well. One thing to remember is that it’s also a big responsibility – you need to be prepared to stick with the organisation through the rough and the smooth. But take your time to learn, remember that the Board are a team, and nurture your relationships with the senior manager and the staff. You can get a lot out of it and make a real difference.”

Charities in Scotland are regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). Their Chief Executive, David Robb said:

“In my six years as OSCR Chief Executive, I’ve been fortunate to see the huge impact that comes from the hard work of dedicated trustees. The 180,000 trustees of Scottish charities make an enormous difference to communities across the country, volunteering their time and working together to lead the strategic direction of their charities.”

“We encourage anyone who is a trustee, or who is interested in becoming one, to participate in Trustees’ Week. Many people are booked to attend events held throughout the country that highlight the significant impact of their work and provide practical advice on how someone can become a trustee themselves – but there are opportunities to participate online too.”

“As always, it is a privilege for OSCR to be involved. It is a brilliant opportunity to highlight the great work that goes on in charities and to show the ways in which people can get more involved in the Sector.”

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