Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Sarah Phillips chair of trustees, Victim Support

I have been chair of Victim Support's national board of trustees since April. Victims and witnesses rely on us to help them cope with the effects of crime, and we depend on 10,000 volunteers and 1,600 members of staff to provide that support.

Victim Support has a federal structure: there is a separate part of the charity in each area - Victim Support Essex, for example. Supported by a national office, each Victim Support area has its own board of trustees, and the quality of the local governance is directly related to the quality of the services provided there.

As a community-based organisation, we try to recruit trustees from a diverse range of backgrounds and with a wide range of skills. In this way, we can ensure that our services are properly accountable to the communities they serve.

It's an exciting time for the charity with the introduction of the new Victims' Code of Practice, which will give statutory rights to victims of crime for the first time. We're also going to be working with the police to pilot Victim Care Units, a new idea from the Home Office.

In order to strengthen our trustee base during this time, we recently published an article in Magistrate magazine, encouraging magistrates to join our boards, which welcome people from all walks of life.

Many magistrates have approached us in the past, and their sense of independence, good judgement, fairness and justice sits well with the Victim Support ethos. They're likely to find some personal identification with a charity such as Victim Support - where the mainstay is volunteers - because magistrates are volunteers themselves.

They will also have knowledge of the criminal justice service in their areas and should have a number of useful contacts from their work on the bench.

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