As a long-term paid-up member of the National RSPCA and a supporter of the local branch the RSPCA has always been a charity close to my heart. So when I was approached some time ago to consider being a Trustee I somewhat naively said I would be interested, not knowing then, what being a Trustee really meant.
Being on the Board of Trustees for almost two years has definitely been a learning curve but a very interesting one to say the least and has given me a great insight into the workings of Derby and District RSPCA. Whilst never losing sight of the fact we are a charity where animal welfare is the core focus, I know that in order to thrive the Charity has to be more business-like.
The Board’s main responsibilities are to ensure there is good governance and financial prudence; in other words that the charity is doing what is was set up to do, and using the money for the purpose for which it was raised. Sounds a little dry doesn’t it?! But we were elected into post during a period when the Branch, which had gone through some very difficult times, was just beginning to emerge into the light under the then new-in-post District and Branch Manager. There were, then, lots of things to get our teeth into. We set to task with the staff to form a strategic plan to secure the future of the Branch and I suppose, in essence, to start to bring it into the 21st century. This includes our public image, how we promote animal welfare, how we care for our animals and for our staff as well as a continual programme of improvements to the site and fundamentally how we keep the money coming in, to name but a few.
In addition I have a better understanding of the National RSPCA and its relationship with local Branches. In my role as Chair I have had the privilege to meet the Chair, Former CEO and the Chief Vet of the National RSPCA and members of the inspectorate who serve our Branch; I have also visited the Call Centre which receives all the emergency calls. On a local level I have met the Derbyshire Police Commissioner and the Derby MP who represents our patch. I am proud to have been part of establishing the Foston prison fostering programme where I met the in-mates and former governor. The Branch temporarily places some small animals in their care for rehabilitation –a relationship with the prison that helps both the animals and some inmates who benefit from caring for these animals. I have also tentatively dipped my toe into the world of public speaking to promote our Branch – something I have made myself do even though this has somewhat taken me out of my comfort zone.
But on a more personal note my role as Chair has given me the opportunity to observe the work from the inside carried out by the dedicated staff in all areas of the Branch as well as meeting with our very important volunteers. I sit alongside eight talented Trustees, all of whom give their time and expertise for free too. I speak on behalf of the rest of the Board when I say we are proud to be part of what I think will be a very exciting few years ahead for Derby and District Branch Abbey Street Animal Rehoming Centre. I’m so glad I joined!