This Trustees’ Week we are profiling trustees from hospices across the UK to gain an insight into the incredible work that they do. Rachel Harvey has been a trustee at St Andrew’s Hospice in Grimsby since September. She tells ehospice why she joined and what she hopes to achieve in this role.
I have worked with boards in previous organisations in my capacity as a leader for specialisms within my remit, namely planning, performance, risk and operational improvement through project work. I felt that I had a lot of skills, knowledge and experience in these areas that would be beneficial to and complement the expertise and contribution of others.
St Andrew’s Hospice is local to me and I have been a regular contributor to the charity. When the opportunity came up to be a Trustee/Director I knew I could make a difference bringing experience and enthusiasm together with practical leadership and management knowledge from a range of sectors and roles.
I had worked in the NHS in a previous role and believe that medical and nursing staff are at the heart of caring for those who are injured, ill or at the end of their life. End of life care is so desperately needed and critically important for an individual’s dignity (in life and in death) and yet so underfunded. By becoming a volunteer, I feel I am less of a burden on hospices’ finances and I can contribute using my expertise.
As a member of the Board and of HR and Finance Committees reporting into the Board, I support my fellow trustees, the Senior Management representatives such as the CEO and Deputy CEO, Finance Director and HR and Operations Director. My role is to be inquisitive and challenging, but in a supportive way, to ensure I understand fully the rationale behind any decisions I support and take.
This will range from questioning whether or not a decision fits with our vision and values to evaluating the effectiveness of the strategic and operations plans through risk and performance management discussions. I will also ensure that through my day to day actions and conversations, I act with integrity so as to uphold the values of the hospice and be a champion for the charity where I can leverage opportunities through such actions.
My strategic and operational experience, and the fact that I have worked with Board members prior to being a Trustee, means I understand the organisational context in which a Board operates from both perspectives and I can see things from both sides. My expertise in strategy development has already been put to good use through a working group established to help engage others with the process of development.
It is early days yet and we are in the process of recruiting more trustees that have specific skills to compliment those that are already there. The main challenge is time for attending meetings and working full time. I do everything I can to contribute to the meetings I attend by ensuring I take time to read reports and documentation aimed at providing me with relevant facts and information that will enable good challenge and debate about decisions.
I enjoy helping the hospice to be sustainable and successful by providing business expertise to the charity. Indirectly, I also enjoy helping those with end of life issues to enjoy their life and have a quality of life they wouldn’t have had without the hospice providing the care they do.
I hope to be a respected member of the board in my tenure as a trustee. I would like to see performance be maintained and the Children’s Hospice flourish in the next one to three years. I also want to feel like I have made a positive contribution to the community through volunteering.
If you’re considering becoming a trustee, do it – give something back! Charities need your support more than ever. We currently have frustrating instability in government, policy setting and funding for hospices and more hospices are likely to close as a result. Charities need expertise and particularly, innovation and creativity in the boardroom to ensure that different ways of working and funding can be explored to deal with the increasing numbers of people who will need this service in the future.
For more information visit St Andrew’s Hospice
Trustees’ Week runs until Friday 8 November.