Monday 13 November 2017

Blog: Joanne’s support as a charity trustee

Joanne at Emmaus Merseyside

My name is Joanne and I am a 46-year-old, Liverpool born, mixed raced black woman and single parent to a teenage boy. I have spent most of my career, over twenty-five years, tackling inequalities and promoting social inclusion locally, nationally and internationally.

I left school with no qualifications but completed a BA in Business Studies in my late twenties. I have strong business acumen developed through delivering equality and diversity outcomes for businesses as a consultant, trainer, facilitator and coach.

In the past, I set up and managed Innervision - an equality and diversity consultancy and social enterprise, managing a team of consultants to design and deliver training, facilitation, consultancy and research services to public, private and third sector agencies in the Liverpool City Region.

I have recently moved from a national community engagement policy lead role within the Civil Service to become Business Manager for The Florrie, a community centre in Liverpool. I am tasked with setting up an accredited vocational training programme for young people aged 16 – 30, not in education, employment or training that leads to employment.

I am passionate about tackling all inequalities but would particularly like to make an impact on the never changing disparity of the higher rate of black and minority ethnic unemployment.

Other work I am involved in is a recent commission by the Women’s Leadership Group (WLG) to coordinate a campaign #giveupyourseat -  asking Liverpool City Region leaders to nominate female deputies to their all male cabinet. The WLG is a collective of over 80 women who have come together to tackle the lack of diversity in power and decision-making structures within the Liverpool City Region. 

I have been a trustee of many organisations over the years from small, community organisations to large social enterprises; South Liverpool Personnel, Merseyside Probation Board, Blackburne House and FRC Group. I joined Emmaus Merseyside in December 2016 and have recently joined Merseyside Employment Law.

Depending on how large a charity is or what resources and staffing structure they have in place, the role of trustee varies greatly. Often the focus for a Board is how to take the organisation forward strategically and supporting the manager in making some of the more complex decisions.

Emmaus Merseyside requires more hands on support as the organisation is in its infancy with a very small staff team. This type of support can range from line managing staff, to staffing a stall at a community event, to facilitating a focus group to determine our social impact.

I want Emmaus to make a positive change in people’s lives. Seeing companions working together, as they did to host our recent community building launch and hearing their stories that Emmaus has made a positive change in their lives is what I find most rewarding about being a trustee of Emmaus.

Everyone at Emmaus has a story of reaching a place where they recognise they need to change their lives and I never cease to be impressed by the commitment made individually to turning their lives around. Everyone needs some extra support at one time or another, the kind of support that I hope Emmaus gives.

During a conversation with a companion recently we discussed how after all as human beings - we are all just a work in progress. We also wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for the generosity of volunteers who give their time for free to support Emmaus and help run the business.

We recently won the Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce Environmental Impact Award sponsored by SP Energy Networks. To know that we help to give people a home, a job and sense of community whilst recycling furniture, avoiding landfill and having a positive impact on the environment is also very rewarding.

Trying to find the money to take the organisation forward is what I find the most challenging about Emmaus (and is quite usual for most small charities).  Emmaus has received some valuable support from all kinds of sources from grants to donations and gifts which all helps no matter how small a contribution.

I have been a charity trustee and board member since I was a teenager so it’s a role I am familiar with. Having worked for a long time in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, I am comfortable with the legal responsibilities the role presents. I am however much more interested in people management than say fiscal management. The personal learning I take away from Emmaus is usually about strategic decision making and stakeholder management.

In terms of what excites me about the future; it's the chance to build a sustainable business with its own income earned from our social enterprise to support our formerly homeless companions! That’s our goal, that’s our business plan and what we are all working towards.

Many thanks for taking the time to read a bit about me. Find out more about Emmaus Merseyside and if you want to get in touch, connect with me on LinkedIn or feel free to drop me an email.

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