Parting Shot: Annette Mountford of Family Links

The founder and outgoing chief executive says it's time for the charity to have fresh blood and new energy

Annette Mountford
Annette Mountford

Founding a charity is not unlike raising a child. I started Family Links in 1997 and have helped it to grow and flourish. I'm 65 now and have been putting the groundwork in to retire for the past five years, so I know the charity will survive without me and that it is ready to fly. It's time for fresh blood and new energy. I believe I can let go, and I'm not going to be a trustee – although I will remain as a patron.

I was a health visitor when I came across the Nurturing Programme, which was developed in the 1970s as a way to correct destructive parental behaviour patterns. The programme resonated with me because it helps families to help themselves.

It was a relief to leave the restrictions of the health profession and enter the voluntary sector, where creative energy is valued. There is a freedom from red tape that allows people to be entrepreneurial and visionary. The problem for charities is that we're all seeking money from the same sources, but we developed a model that enables us to draw our income through being a training organisation, so we are not reliant on funders.

My aim was to help parents change unhappy lives into positive ones. It's important always to keep your aim in mind and stay true to the integrity of your charity, while retaining the flexibility needed to address economic problems. To be a good chief executive, you need to be forward-thinking, have strong interpersonal skills, surround yourself with a strong team and be prepared to work long hours. Above all, you need passion.

Family Links works with parents and teachers using the Nurturing Programme approach to enable children to get the best start in life

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