Meet Sarah, our new Chair
Q. Why did you decide to take on the role of Chair of Trustees?
My first meeting as a volunteer trustee was in May last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The charity is 815 years old and what a privilege it is to be part of this unique charity. I had always planned to explore the idea of being a Chair nearer retirement age, but this opportunity came up and I felt that I could add so much more right now.
Q. What experience do you bring to Walton Charity?
During my 26 years of working as a nurse with children and adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues, I have built a network of links within the voluntary, health and social care sectors. Becoming Chair of a local charity is an opportunity to make these connections more meaningful.
Walton Charity is committed to tackling poverty and inequality and, within my work, I see the realities of these every day. I just felt there was so much more I could do. My focus tends to be on interactions with people when they are unwell but what really interests me is how do you help people to stay healthy and remain independent.
Each trustee is chosen for their skill sets – mine being health – the other trustees bring their own unique skills.
Q. How do you find the time with such a busy day job?
Sometimes opportunities come up when it is not the ideal time. There is an argument to say that I am probably in the busiest day job that I’ve ever had, but I think you find the time for things that you feel really passionate about.
Q. What do you think you’ll do differently now you are Chair?
I think the main difference is going to be that I will immerse myself much more regularly in the work of the charity. Already I am a member of the Grants Committee, and I will obviously join all the committees, to have an oversight.
I will also be supporting Jackie Lodge, the charity’s Chief Executive, leading the charity and helping to set the direction for the next three years.
I wanted something that was good for the soul but would stretch me and make me build relationships and networks with totally different people. There are also lots of different elements to the charity - from property to finance and grant giving. Some of it is familiar but some of it is like a totally different language to me!
Q. Why do you feel mental health is such an important issue to focus on?
My view is that everybody has mental health challenges but for some they become overwhelming at times. I have both personal experience and professional experience of working with children and young people particularly around emotional wellness and resilience.
Sometimes the most resilient, strong, healthy people can find themselves in difficult circumstances that are beyond their control and can tip them over the edge.
As a community we have got the opportunity to come together, just to make that journey a little easier for people.
Any final thoughts?
I recognise that I am just one person but when I connect to twenty or thirty other people working at Walton Charity, suddenly we become really powerful. A great example of this is the foodbank that I visited early on in my trusteeship. Seeing people who work there and those that come in, the chat and the laughter and the connection people get is often as important as the bag of food that they take home. It is just so powerful and I think that, without being connected with the charity, I would never have seen that.