Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Julia Heywood Obesity and Awareness Solutions Trust

I have been a trustee for the Obesity and Awareness Solutions Trust, or Toast, for nine months.

Outside the trust, I have been involved in healthcare for 20 years - the past ten as a general practice nurse - and have become well aware how difficult it is to help people with obesity. I believe it is an increasingly widespread problem, but one that is not being addressed properly.

Although the trustees meet four times a year, we keep up to date with the issues by means of a monthly newsletter to which we can all contribute.

We are emailed if any other issues come up. The system tends to work quite well, especially the newsletter.

I'm in a different position from the rest of the trustees because I'm a student at the moment. However, having to balance responsibilities as a trustee with full-time work doesn't seem to be too much of a problem for any of the other trustees. If we were having more regular meetings, that might be different.

At one recent meeting, we were talking about how governance would work as the charity expands. If you're talking about expanding, I think it's vital that you get different people on board for the different areas into which you're looking to grow.

If Toast wanted to have a trading arm, for example, I wouldn't want to be involved, so we'd have to involve people who have skills more pertinent to that area.

It's vital to have a mix - if everybody was from the same areas of healthcare, we would inevitably have very insular ideas.

Training for trustees in specific skills is one thing we have discussed.

One area we might look at, for example, is marketing and media - we're all very aware that we are advocates for the charity and should all be singing from the same hymn sheet.

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