By Alex Henderson, Communications Intern at Thomas Pocklington Trust and Trustee at Haringey Phoenix Group
I’m Alex Henderson, I am partially sighted, and work for Thomas Pocklington Trust in the Communications Team, not only that but I am also a Trustee for Haringey Phoenix Group (HPG), and as it’s Trustees’ Week, I want to share my story of becoming a trustee.
Joining my local society
I remember the day I was asked to be a Trustee well, I was sitting in the pottery-making class organised by HPG, a local sight loss charity in North London, when Tom Stapleton the General Manager asked if he could have a word with me. That was when I was asked to be a trustee of the charity!
I have to admit, I was surprised, and the first thought that went through my head was “Me, a Trustee?”, I wasn’t even sure what a trustee was, let alone whether I wanted to become one! I didn’t have a clue what it might involve, or if I’d be any good at it.
But let me take you back to the beginning, the day I first went to the HPG.
Starting a new chapter
I was at the start of a new chapter of my life. Previously, I had felt lost, isolated, and alone because of my vision impairment. I had built up a lot of negative beliefs about myself, what I was capable of, and what I could expect from life.
Over time, I began to realise that my disability wasn’t the problem, but my outlook. I decided that I had to get out there, be positive, and challenge myself. At that stage, I didn’t know any other blind or partially sighted people, and had no idea about what services, activities, or support was available.
I started by Googling my local sight loss society and found the HPG. I liked the sound of the pottery-making class and contacted them. I was feeling pretty nervous the first time I went but the staff, volunteers, and other participants were so welcoming and friendly, and my nerves quickly disappeared.
As the months went by, and the misshapen pieces of pottery began to accumulate on my shelves at home, I saw how caring and dedicated the staff and volunteers were, and how much the members relied on and appreciated the services being offered. So I began volunteering for HPG a few times a month, taking part in the fundraising efforts of the group. I found this to be very beneficial for me in terms of building confidence and feeling like I was making a contribution.
Always say yes!
7 months later, I said yes to becoming a trustee at HPG, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The experience has been so positive and rewarding, it has changed the way I see myself, and redefined what I thought was possible for me.
I never would have believed that I was the sort of person who could become a trustee, but one of the things I’ve learnt on my journey is that you should always say yes to an opportunity when it comes along, and if you approach something with positive energy you always get something positive back.
Being a trustee has given me so much – more confidence, new skills and experiences that can be taken into other aspects of life such as employment, as well as a sense of pride that I am helping to support a great organisation that is valued by its members.
So, to anyone reading this who is thinking about becoming a charity trustee, or if you haven’t ever considered it before, I would say just go for it!