Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Sue Branson, Kids' City

I've been chair of Kids' City for two years, but I first got involved nine years ago, when my son was five and The Trojans Scheme - as the charity was then known - was about a year old. The charity was operating in my son's primary school.

In the old days, most of the trustees were parents. In fact, I would say about 90 per cent were. When a trustee left, it was difficult to recruit someone new.

Now there are many professionals on the board who have been brought in especially for their skills, although we do still have some parents as trustees. The trustees we have now are a lot more committed and the board has become more dedicated and professional over time.

The trustees meet about six times a year, once a term. We have our meetings in the evenings at a restaurant so everybody can eat. Otherwise people end up hungry and want the meetings to finish early. It also adds a nice social element to the meetings.

We are taking governance training very seriously. The development team at Kids' City is looking for the best package so that all the trustees can go somewhere for a weekend and have some intensive training.

The trustees have already had some training from an accountant, though.

This was organised because some of the trustees thought they might be liable if anything happened, and also to help trustees read the annual accounts.

Two of us have an accounting background, but the others didn't really know what they were looking at or where to look. The accountant also did a session on the liabilities of trustees.

The training has saved a lot of time in subsequent meetings. Trustees are now clear what they are supposed to be looking for on budget-monitoring reports and those who did have concerns about their liability are obviously more relaxed.

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