Becoming a Trustee

What is a Trustee?

Trustees serve on the governing body (Board) of a charity and are responsible for directing the management and administration of the charity. They have a wide range of duties and are responsible for making the charity effective, providing overall direction and maintaining sound management of funds. They are mindful that in promoting the objects of the scheme they hold it in trust for current and future families. Trustees are responsible for the governance of the scheme, staff for managing the day-to-day running of the scheme. A Trustee maintains a critical distance to be able to set the direction and oversee the work objectively. Being a Trustee is rewarding, giving many opportunities for personal development and the chance to give something back to your local community.

What’s in a name?

A Trustee Board may also be called a management committee, a Board of Directors or Trustees, but they all have the same responsibility, whatever the title. Home-Start schemes are currently run as either an incorporated charitable company governed by the Home-Start Memorandum and Articles of Association with a Board of Trustees or as an unincorporated charity governed by the Home-Start Constitution and managed by the Trustees of the Management Committee. Most Home-Start schemes are now incorporated. Both forms of governing documents require the scheme to work to the same Home-Start Standards and Methods of Practice and in accord with the Home-Start Agreement and quality standards.

What does a Board of Trustees do?

The Board of Trustees is responsible for the scheme’s vision, for leading the strategic direction, for compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, the performance and quality of the scheme and for ensuring that it operates within the Home-Start Agreement. It is also responsible for the scheme’s property, financial management and security, good governance, the promotion of Home-Start and for employing staff. The Board’s job is to ensure that the resources in the charity are used effectively to further the objects of Home-Start and for the purpose for which they were given.

What role does the Trustee Chair have?

The Chair plays a key role in providing leadership for the Board in deciding strategy and setting policy. As well as planning and chairing Trustee meetings, the Chair will also manage the induction of new Trustees. He/she takes the lead on the support and supervision of the Scheme Manager and will often represent the charity at external events and meetings.

What does the Treasurer do?

The Treasurer will maintain an overview of the scheme’s affairs, ensuring that it is financially viable and that proper financial records and procedures are maintained. The Treasurer has a duty to provide the Trustee Board with up to date and understandable financial information about the scheme’s position in relation to the agreed budget. This should happen regularly and at least at each meeting of the Board. Home-Start East Sussex outsource the payroll and have a finance officer responsible for bookkeeping. It is the Treasurer’s role to oversee this function.

What are the responsibilities of the Secretary?

The Secretary in an incorporated Home-Start scheme ensures the Board fulfils its legal and regulatory obligations. The Secretary is responsible for keeping accurate minutes and a record of decisions taken at Board meetings.

What kinds of skills & experience do you need to be a Home-Start Trustee?

Home-Start East Sussex needs Trustees with a variety of skills and experience and from a wide range of backgrounds. No special qualifications are needed, but it is important to have good interpersonal skills, a practical approach to working with people, an understanding of the pressures facing parents and an interest in supporting your local community. You may bring a particular expertise to the Board, such as professional skills in finance, IT, business or personnel management or marketing and PR, but equally as important are listening and communication skills, commitment and common sense. We are particularly interested in recruiting trustees with a background in marketing and PR at the moment.

Can anyone be a Trustee?

Most people over 18 can be Trustees. There are some exceptions: where a person has been convicted of an offence involving deception, an undischarged bankrupt or someone who has previously been removed as a Trustee. All Trustees must have a criminal records check.

What’s the difference between the work of the Trustees & the work of paid staff?

The Trustee role is one of governance, which is about ensuring that things are done, but not necessarily about doing them. Governance is not the same as management, which is the day-to-day business of running the scheme – organising the delivery of the work programme, looking after the assets, supervising and directing the staff and volunteers. Much of this management role will be delegated by the Trustees to the staff, but the Trustees retain overall responsibility and must monitor the work.

Are Trustees paid for their work?

Trustees are volunteers, and under Home-Start’s model memorandum cannot receive payment. However, expenses such as travel and other costs incurred in the course of their duties are reimbursed.

How big a commitment is it?

Being a Trustee carries legal and financial responsibilities. It’s an important role, which will require time and commitment. Home-Start Trustees spend up to 5 hours a month fulfilling their responsibilities.

What advice and support is available for new Trustees?

Every new Trustee has an induction programme within the scheme. They are also invited to a

regional Home-Start induction day as well as to other national and regional training courses and

events. A full range of support is available, including the Home-Start Policy & Practice Guide and

regular legal updates.

Essential tasks for Trustees to engage in with their scheme

1 Determine, review and ensure the scheme’s mission and vision

are in accordance with its charitable objectives

2 Engage in strategic planning for the scheme

3 Formulate, adopt and assist with the implementation of policy

4 Approve and monitor Home-Start’s services and activities

5 Ensure that there are adequate financial resources to meet the short, medium and long term needs of the scheme

6 Ensure that the scheme is adequately insured

7 Provide for effective fiscal oversight and ensure sound risk management

8 Select, supervise and support the senior member of staff and review their performance

9 Understand and respect the relationship between Trustees and staff

10 Act as a responsible employer

11 Act as an ambassador for Home-Start by positively and actively promoting

Home-Start’s public image

12 Recruit, select and induct new Board members

13 Ensure that Home-Start business is carried out efficiently and effectively, in accordance with good practice

14 Act within the spirit of and in accordance with Home-Start’s equality of opportunity and diversity policies and procedures

15 Lead the scheme in accordance with the requirements of the Home-Start Agreement, Quality Assurance system and guidance in the Policy and Practice Guide.

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