Wanted: People to transform social attitudes to learning disability

ENABLE Scotland wants trustees who are interested in enhancing the lives of children and adults who have learning disabilities
ENABLE Scotland wants trustees who are interested in enhancing the lives of children and adults who have learning disabilities
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Trustees essential for charity’s campaign, says Marcella Boyle

Every three years the leading Scottish charity for people who have learning disabilities recruits new trustees to support the executive team in directing its governance. This spring marks the end of that three-year period once again and the charity now needs to renew the trustee pool, bringing in the most appropriate skills and expertise to help it achieve its goals.

ENABLE Scotland has been supporting people who have learning disabilities to live the life they want for more than 60 years. It wants to recruit new trustees who are interested in enhancing the lives of adults and children in Scotland who have learning disabilities, and who have a proven track record in governance and corporate strategy within a large-scale organisation.

The mix of skills required at board level include experience of: public and social policy; the Scottish legal system; social support and practice; human resources, employment and communications; and marketing.

ENABLE Scotland is not only a charity, it’s also a member-led campaigning organisation and a service provider. That is why the collective set of skills required to steer this ship are diverse and require recruitment from wide and varied networks.

As the social care landscape continues to change in Scotland due to the implementation of Self-Directed Support (SDS), and providers face the challenges imposed by cuts in public spending, it is the innovators who will survive. Innovation in service design is a key priority for the charity, but the campaigning work it does, which is led by its members, is at the heart of what the organisation is all about.

I had previous trustee experience and wanted to use my skills in a volunteering capacity. I came across ENABLE Scotland’s advert for new trustees and was attracted because its work involves campaigning and service delivery which is a unique mix. After meeting with some of the existing board members and learning about their involvement in shaping policy and service design I knew it was the place for me.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being a trustee? Working with our members, their families and our staff. ENABLE Scotland has a members’ council which takes a very active role in helping to run the organisation. As a result we work closely with people who have learning disabilities on a regular basis and they hold the board to account. What I admire about the organisation is that it focuses on people’s ability and the contribution they can make, rather than learning disability.

Working with people who have learning disabilities and their families gives you a different perspective. Our members recently worked on the #bethechange campaign which is about stamping out abusive language. This made me realise that having a positive view of learning disability on a personal level is not enough. We need to do more to change others’ views. That’s why the campaigns are so important.

Has this changed the course of my career? It has certainly enhanced it. In terms of my personal professional development the skills and experience I have gained from working in partnership with the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the other trustees has added to my understanding of governance. ENABLE Scotland is all about focusing on the individual and its delivery of services has refocused my own approach to clients.

I would say to anyone considering becoming a trustee, be prepared to give something of yourself. This is a particularly active board and requires a strong personal commitment but you will reap the rewards in return. If I had to sum up my time with ENABLE Scotland in three phrases, I would say: “making a difference”; “rewarding”; and “affecting”.

Marcella Boyle is a trustee of ENABLE Scotland. For more information on becoming a trustee, visit www.enable.org.uk/becomeatrustee or e-mail trusteerecruitment@enable.org.uk. Closing date, 27 March.