The growing challenges facing charity trustees

‘I’ve tried everything but I just can’t find anyone interested in being a Trustee. Unless I can find someone, I worry about the future of our club.’

The words this week of a charity chair, phoning Community Foundation Wales to seek help.

It is an increasingly common, and worrying, scenario facing community groups across Wales. And this is particularly the case for groups working with older people.

Wales is facing a volunteering challenge. A big one. And the repercussions could be huge for our public services and communities.

WCVA last month reported that 90% of groups taking part in their survey experienced volunteer recruitment issues in the past six months. 31% said the challenges were ‘severe.’

We should see this as a big, glaring red flag. It is a sure-fire sign that some of our most valuable community services are heading into serious trouble.

The conversation I had was fairly typical of what colleagues across the third sector are hearing more and more. The charity I spoke with this week provides a social lifeline to older people in their community, helping to connect them with friends and keep them active.

The problem? Their trustee board is dwindling through age and illness and, despite everything they have tried, they just cannot find new Trustees.

The future is a worry as a number of the existing trustees are older and facing health challenges. None of their service users would be able to take on trustee responsibility. And on top of all that, their local bank has closed, which now means a 30 mile trip to carry out their banking business.

The chair of the board was feeling the pressure and expressed his concern about the future of the group. It is a big burden to carry – without trustees the service closes and the group members will lose their social lifeline, the highlight of their week.

I told the charity about support available from his local county voluntary council who will help him promote his trustee vacancies on the Volunteering Wales website.

More generally, we need to see more promotion of the support that is available to Trustees. We need to help our society and public services to truly recognise and value the massive contribution of volunteers to the well-being of people and communities.

We can’t afford to take for granted our volunteers and the difference they make.

If you are experiencing similar issues, or know someone who is, please get in touch with your local CVC to see how they can help.

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