Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Don Brereton, Chairman, Carers UK

Trustees at Carers UK get involved in quite a lot of campaigning because the majority of trustees are carers themselves. The charity is a members-led carers' organisation, so when discussing how we should be seeking to influence government and civil society, the trustees are a first port of call.

The trustees are involved in campaigning at a national level - particularly when it comes to determining campaign strategy and priorities - but we also have regional and local structures. There are offices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all of which have their own chairmen.

Much of the day-to-day campaigning is obviously done by the full-time paid staff, but that is within the framework of a campaign strategy that has been set in consultation with the trustees and the charity's members.

Individual trustees also tend to get involved with lobbying MPs and local authorities as well as attending meetings with ministers. This is particularly the case in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For example, the chair of the charity's Welsh branch was heavily involved in pushing for a Carers Champion for Wales. The Government has now agreed to this, so it's a really good example of how a trustee can take a prominent role in a campaign.

The ability to balance all of this work with caring responsibilities and our day jobs really hangs on having a good relationship with the chief executive and the staff.

I think the relationship works well at Carers UK because they acknowledge that we have a lot of other things to do. They think about how they can give us as much warning as possible about an event so that we are able to take part. They also consider whether meetings could be held at certain times and in certain locations, to make it easier for us to attend.

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