A place on the board - Barry Catchpole of Adoption UK

Although he had no personal experience of adoption, Catchpole brought useful qualities and skills to the charity that helps children and their new families

Barry Catchpole
Barry Catchpole
  • This story has been clarified: see final paragraph

Barry Catchpole admits he knew little about adoption in 2013, when he first became a trustee of Adoption UK, which provides support for families with newly adopted children and lobbies government on related issues.

When he retired as chief executive of Surrey Heath Borough Council in 2007, Catchpole was invited to become a trustee of Disability Initiative, a local charity he'd encountered while working at the council.

When his three-year term ended, he decided to move on, but found he was having trouble adjusting to not being involved with a charity - so when he saw the advert for new trustees at Adoption UK, he decided to investigate further.

"I realised how much the system was stacked against adopted children and how long they could be in care before they were adopted," he says. "And looking at the disadvantages these young people face, you can't help but be outraged."

Catchpole is one of only two trustees on the 12-strong board not to have personal experience of adoption, but that has not stopped him contributing. "I think it's helpful to have someone on the board who isn't adopted," he says. "It helps to have someone who can look at the situation with perspective."

Catchpole, a former accountant, also brought his financial skills to the charity, so when the chair of the finance committee stepped down, Catchpole took on the role, along with that of treasurer.

Now he's a passionate campaigner. "I'd like to see Adoption UK grow and help many more young children and their adoptive families," he says. "When you see things change and feel your organisation has had something to do with it, it's a good feeling.

"I would certainly encourage other people to do this - if you think you have skills, you can make a wonderful amount of difference."

  • Catchpole is not the only trustee who is neither adopted nor an adoptive parent, but is the only one without professional or direct personal experience of adoption. Of the other trustees, one is a social worker, nine are adoptive parents and one is an adoptive parent and adopted.

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