Commission replaced entire board of trustees

The Charity Commission replaced all the trustees of a Welsh affiliate of Mind last summer after they admitted they did not have the skills to govern it effectively, a report by the regulator has revealed.

The commission began a formal inquiry into Carmarthen Mind Association in February 2007 after former members of staff, a local MP and Mind’s national officer for Wales raised concerns about the trustees’ competence. Two of the mental health charity’s main funders had also suspended payments, and Mind was considering removing it from its network of autonomous affiliated local associations.

The inquiry found that the trustees had failed to obtain Criminal Records Bureau clearance when recruiting staff who were in contact with vulnerable people, and that they had abdicated many of their duties and responsibilities to a dominant employee. This employee’s behaviour was criticised by former employees at the charity.

The trustees, many of whom were also service users, admitted they did not have the right skills and asked to be discharged. New, experienced trustees from a neighbouring independent local Mind association are now in place and the commission says the charity’s governance has been restored to a proper standard. The charity’s funding streams have also been restored.

In the conclusion to its inquiry report, the commission warns that having service users as trustees is appropriate for some charities but not others. “Each charity should consider whether user trusteeship would enhance the effective management of the charity and have a positive impact on the delivery of its services,” it says.

It also warns trustees not to allow themselves to be manipulated by dominant employees. “A charity is entitled to the independent and objective judgement of each of its trustees, acting solely in the interests of the charity,” it says.

George Mitton recommends

The report

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