15 May 2019

Volunteers' Week blog: being a Trustee

KeyRing's Board are all volunteers. For Volunteers' Week Board Member Brian Frisby tells us about what being a KeyRing trustee means to him.


I think that like many people, I don’t think of myself as a ‘volunteer’ - a term that seems to me to imply too much of a one-way ‘gift relationship.' 

I retired from full-time paid work just over two years ago. Aware of this, Karyn Kirkpatrick (the CEO of KeyRing) asked me if I would be interested in joining their Board. Well, who wouldn’t feel slightly flattered at being 'head-hunted', so I accepted the invitation to a ‘formal' interview.

With almost 40 years experience in social care and a track record both in delivering an authentic version of personalisation and in supporting moves away from institutional care to ordinary living, KeyRing colleagues saw me as someone who shared their values and vision. Joining the Board as a trustee was an easy decision to make; if in some way I could use my experience to support KeyRing Members, staff and managers to move forward, then that would be an honour and a privilege. Who wouldn’t want to do that? For example, as someone who is passionate about personalisation, I have been able to support the organisation directly by providing some consultancy support to operational managers around TLAP’s Making It Real Framework.

In return I have been able to meet, get to know and work with some great people and learn first hand why and how KeyRing is such a well-run national charity. I’ve learned about the responsibilities of being a company director/trustee, where the role is, of course, to support and encourage - but also to ‘kick the tyres’ as a critical friend might do, to ensure that the organisation is being run as it should as a charity and a company. As a trustee/director of a much smaller local charity, close to home, I have been able to transfer learning from one setting to the other. For example, the KeyRing Board has worked hard to make sure that the two Board members with lived experience are able to fully participate in meetings.

Since retiring from full time employment I have been doing some paid work as a ‘consultant’ and as an Associate with the NDTi on their community led support programme. This strengths based approach understands that some of the most important things to people are relationships, having a home, safety and security, enough wealth and being able to make a ‘contribution.’  By contribution we mean having a purpose, a meaning and opportunities to contribute - the things that give us dignity and respect - all at the heart of being a citizen. Working with and for KeyRing on an unpaid basis gives me such a purpose.

So for me, ‘volunteering' for KeyRing is so much more than giving back or even doing unpaid work as some sort of benefactor - its much more of a two-way, mutual relationship where giving, receiving, learning and sharing are at the heart of the relationship.