Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Pit Rink, chair, Ataxia UK

When I first joined Ataxia UK, I was thrown in at the deep end.

There was a change of chief executive shortly after my arrival and there wasn't really anyone to train me. We're now addressing this by developing a training programme. We're also setting up a governance seminar for trustees using the governance hub's Code of Good Governance. We are gradually working through the whole book.

What I want from my board of trustees is a wide-ranging body of skills and expertise. I have trustees with knowledge in legal matters, finance, health and safety, training and fundraising. I also have a number of people with ataxia, which affects people's co-ordination.

In fact, about a third of the board is made up of people with ataxia, a third have a relative with ataxia and a third of us don't have ataxia.

I want to make sure we have the right balance between those different skills and experiences.

The board needs to have a solid business background. Having said that, however, it's essential for beneficiaries to be represented at board level.

They are the reason we are there. People with ataxia will always put a different slant on things.

The best thing about being a trustee at Ataxia UK is that it is a small organisation, so I really feel I am making a difference.

One of the difficult things - for most small charities - is the various hoops the charity has to jump through. For example, governance hoops, commitments to the Charity Commission and so on. We all have to do the same things as larger charities, but it can be disproportionately costly and time-consuming. It would be great if smaller charities could receive more help. I don't know how exactly, but perhaps there could be some sort of umbrella body to help smaller organisations operate more efficiently.

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