Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Gwen Vaughan, The Daycare Trust

I'm chief executive of another charity, Gingerbread, and it was through that that I got involved with The Daycare Trust. I was relatively new to the children and families sector and I was keen to become more embedded in it.

I've been chief executive and a trustee at numerous organisations. I find it helps in both roles to know what the other person does. Having somebody on the board who understands what it's like on the other side of the table brings good perspective.

There can often be a divide between trustee boards and management - in a way, there should be. But it's good for a board to be aware of when it is stepping on the chief executive's toes and when it isn't being supportive of management.

Being a trustee of another organisation helps me as chief executive because it gives me a greater understanding of the sector. Similarly, it helps me to deal with my own trustee board in a more understanding way.

I have been a trustee of the Daycare Trust for just over two years, a period of enormous change for the organisation. When I first got involved, the charity was campaigning for a national childcare strategy. A year ago, the Government announced that it was adopting a ten-year childcare strategy for universal childcare - more than anyone at the organisation had expected. This was interesting because the trust, which was predominantly a campaigning organisation, found itself in a position in which it had suddenly achieved its principal objective. We went from having a very clear focus to wondering what we should do next.

It was particularly interesting to be a trustee during that time because the charity was more or less forced into completely reinventing itself.

In the face of all of that change, the board needed to become much more hands-on and to think more strategically.

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