Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Sir Andrew McFarlane QC YoungMinds

I have been involved with YoungMinds, the mental health charity for children and young people, for six years.

YoungMinds' trustees meet six times a year, on average. Each meeting is with the senior management team, and trustees meet separately only if we have to sort out specific issues, such as staff appointments. This means board meetings are joint trustee and senior management meetings.

It is very helpful to combine the two. It's a real chance for everyone to get together as a group every two months to see how things are going and discuss common issues.

At each meeting the staff present a director's report. This is a substantial document that includes information from other senior managers, all of whom are present at trustee meetings to talk through the report.

I'm not directly involved with young people's mental health through my paid job, so for me the biggest challenge of being a charity trustee is understanding the difficulties faced by the mental health professionals who are involved with the charity.

It is also hard to deal with funding issues, which are outside my day-to-day work as a lawyer and High Court judge. However, I receive very good support from the charity, and the staff provide us with a ready flow of information. The reports they produce for trustee meetings are very clear.

In response to the topical debate about trustees receiving payment, it's not something we have discussed at YoungMinds. My view is there is no need for it in our world. We have a board with a wide cross-section of trustees who give their time freely. It would be slightly different, say, if you had an accountant who was going to take on the role of treasurer on the board, because that would probably involve more time.

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