Helen Jones Chair of Trustees
Your expertise and experience could make a huge difference to an older person living in Norfolk.

We are seeking more trustees to lead the strategic development of the charity in areas such as finance, health and social care, commissioning and service development, social policy and fundraising.

Helen Jones, chair of trustees, said there are 11 trustees.  “The board does currently have a few ‘skill gaps’ which we wish to recruit to as part of our succession planning and being ready for the future.  With health and social care budgets constantly coming under pressure, we need people with the knowledge of how these things work.

“We actively encourage the recruitment of people who are retired or in full or part-time work.”  As well as offering their experience and work skills, trustees attend six board meetings a year (there are no meetings scheduled in August).  The annual general meeting takes place in September and there is an annual strategic review “away day”.

There are two primary sub-committees of the Board which deal with governance and finance, although not all trustees are necessarily appointed to those.

Trustees also become members of the Norfolk Council on Ageing, the charity’s membership organisation.  “In this way we can keep in touch with other organisations working in our field” said Ms Jones. “We can network with other charities – it’s really interesting.”

Elected trustees usually serve a maximum of six years, and a minimum of three. The minimum, explained Ms Jones, is that it usually takes about nine months to “learn the ropes” and then a year and a half to get actively involved. “It’s entirely up to the individual – if they can make the commitment to serve for six years.”

So what would a trustee get from such a role?

“There is more of a challenge to your way of thinking than you might imagine” said Ms Jones. “There is great satisfaction in what we achieve.  Trustees provide insight, decision-making and guidance on the direction of the charity to ensure that governance is correctly applied.  Trustees also challenge the direction that the senior executives may wish to go.  There is a lot of intelligent stimulation.”

Ms Jones said “Gone are the days when simple solutions can be applied.  Age UK Norfolk faces significant demographic and funding challenges and year on year we see the demand for our services increase and these are the challenges that our Trustees deal with.  The role requires energy, creativity and pragmatism.  

“The role of the Trustee is a strategic one, rather than a hands-on role, as we have an excellent management team who lead our services and support staff on a day-to-day basis.

“We know our services make a difference to the people of Norfolk.  We are leading the way in the UK by supporting 13 communities to become Dementia Friendly, meaning that people who have dementia and their carers are able to access the social life, businesses and amenities in their local community and continue to live independently for longer in their own homes.  We also receive wonderful feedback about our Information and Advice Line, as it is the first and most trusted port of call for so many older people and their families, who otherwise wouldn’t know who to turn to.

“Trusteeship comes from belief in what we do and commitment to the charity.”

Helen Jones has been a trustee of Age UK Norfolk since May 2013, and was recently elected chair.

She trained as a chartered secretary and worked at Kingfisher plc for over 20 years. She currently works as a consultant for London-based businesses and as pension trustee of a final salary scheme.

She finds her role as a trustee rather like that of a non-executive director, overseeing governance and advising the chief executive on strategy and policy.

“I use the business experience and skills I have gained during my career to help Age UK Norfolk deliver its objectives. After all, delivering objectives is business - the fact that your objectives are charitable is particularly nice! Charity governance is a responsible role, but one that is crucial.

“The public are giving money and they expect that money to be spent on what they are giving it for – this is so important.”

Age UK Norfolk is also seeking a treasurer on the board of trustees.

For more information contact Paula Skelton on 01603 785 235 or email paula.skelton@ageuknorfolk.org.uk