What is the point of trustees?

Tim Fell (Chair of Trustees) | 01.02.2016

The BSA board of trustees (called General Committee), with Norbert in attendance, got together this month for their quarterly meeting in London.  For some of us that means getting up at 5.30am to catch the train and be in our seats by 11am.  Phew, just made it!  My fellow trustees are a fantastic bunch with one aim in common - to help people who stammer.  We take our job seriously and recognise the size of the task in hand.  But we don’t take ourselves too seriously, so it’s a good balance!  The trustees are mostly people who stammer and they come from all over the country.  The aim is to have a board of trustees with a wide range of backgrounds, skills and experience.

What’s the point of the meeting?  Well, we look at what’s been happening, consider what we would like to happen, and then decide how we're going to do it.

The law defines trustees as having control of the charity.  In other words, they’re legally responsible.  So in simple terms, it’s the job of the trustees to look after and nurture the BSA for current and future people who stammer.  Many people probably think that the main task of the trustees is to oversee the finances of the charity to ensure that it stays afloat.  Although this is an important aspect of the role it’s by no means the only one.

Part of our responsibility is to have a clear vision, or ambition if you like, of what we want the BSA to achieve.  Then we have to decide how we’re going to achieve it.  So there’s a good deal of thought, or strategic planning, that’s required.  But we don’t operate in a vacuum and there will be all sorts of things going on in our environment that might influence our strategy, and we have to be alive to those.  So the trustees are currently reviewing our vision for the BSA to ensure that the charity is doing all it can to help and support people who stammer over the next 5-10 years.  As we’re a user-led charity your vision for the BSA is really important so we want to hear your views, too.  As a starter for 10 here’s mine:

  • for people who stammer to speak with confidence (stammering or not), so that they can enjoy life to the full, and make a greater contribution to society at large.
  • for society to “get” that it’s what you say, not how you say it, that matters.

Please let me have your comments by the end of February - you can email me at

Back to the meeting!  It was a very full agenda including an update on ESN from Iain Wilkie who kindly gave up his Saturday morning to be with us.  We had reports on finance, the website, education, fundraising, Young BSA, social media, the National Conference, and Open Days.  A lot of work goes into producing these reports, and I’m grateful to the staff and trustees involved.

I mentioned Norbert earlier in this post.  Whilst it’s the job of the trustees to determine the policies and strategic direction of the BSA, it’s Norbert who has to implement those board policies.  He’s the bloke who actually gets things done with the help of his part-time staff and volunteers, including Lee, Helen, Allan, Arifur, Cherry, and Mandy.  Without Norbert’s commitment, hard work, and specialist knowledge not only would our vision for the BSA not be fulfilled, but also the everyday servicing of the stammering community would grind to a halt.

And so the meeting ended at 5pm.  No time afterwards for a pint for me, sadly, because I had to get home for a birthday party.  But by the time I got back at 9 the Abbot Ale tasted all the sweeter….