Building relationships and trust makes Sense

Diversity key to place on board, says Usman Rehman

Picture: Sense Scotland
Picture: Sense Scotland

Sense Scotland is in the process of recruiting new trustees to its board. This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of an organisation which is dedicated to supporting the people it works with to live meaningful and independent lives and to achieve their individual goals and ambitions.

Building relationships through trust is one of Sense Scotland’s core values and captures well the attributes being sought in these key appointments. Establishing effective relationships with all stakeholders we support and building trust in the organisation and its strategy and direction have been a key focus of the trustees and leadership team in recent years.

With a staff group approaching 1,200, more than 460 volunteers, more than 40 local services across Scotland and an annual turnover of more than £21m, becoming a member of the board at Sense Scotland is a big responsibility but it has rewards. So what kind of people are we looking for?

Our current board of trustees are a fantastic mix including parents and relatives of the people we support, accountants, solicitors, business consultants, sales managers and GPs. But we’re always looking for diversity from people with a wide range of experiences, knowledge and expertise. So whatever their background or skillset, as long as an individual is committed to the aims and values of Sense Scotland they’ll be welcomed to the board.

So what responsibilities would prospective trustees be taking on? In the past ten years Sense Scotland’s income has nearly doubled, employee numbers have grown by nearly 75 per cent and we now support nearly double the number of children, young people and adults, working with more than 1,000 people and their families across Scotland. So Sense Scotland would be seeking people who have the confidence and vision to help make some big decisions that will affect the Sense Scotland family.

We know what motivates trustees to commit themselves to Sense Scotland is the knowledge that they are contributing to helping the people we support to live more independent lives. Take Duncan Tannahill; he discovered Sense Scotland when he agreed to do an overseas challenge to raise money for the organisation over 15 years ago. This led to him becoming a committed member of the board and in this, Sense Scotland’s 30th anniversary year, he has embarked on an ambitious personal challenge.

“Hitting the age of 60 stimulated me to do something for charity to mark this milestone birthday so I decided to do a 24-hour, 60-mile walk blindfolded and with my hearing deprived,” explained Duncan. “It seemed a fitting tribute to the origins of the organisation which today of course supports a very diverse community of individuals all of whom have a communication support need including people who are sensory impaired.”

And what was Duncan’s main spur throughout this epic challenge?

“I used the mental anchor of a lovely card from Susie who is supported by Sense Scotland. This was in my rucksack along with ten biographies of other individuals supported by the charity. This kept me motivated and focused.”

Roy Cox, trustee and chairman of the Board explains why the Sense Scotland is so important for families like his, as his daughter Cheryl has been supported by the charity since it started in 1985.

“We currently have people who use Sense Scotland services who are a part of the wider community. They contribute tremendously to society, just as Cheryl contributes to my life. Had she not had these services, who knows what might have happened.”

And this is perhaps the key to being a trustee with Sense Scotland. By maintaining and enhancing the organisation’s connection to its core values, and through ensuring that the charity is guided and supported to develop and grow responsibly and sustainably, trustees will be helping create a stable future for the many, many people who rely on the charity every day to live independent and fulfilled lives.

Usman Rehman, a GP in Glasgow and trustee with Sense Scotland, is chair of the nominations committee for the board of trustees.

Interested in finding out about becoming a trustee? Visit: or call CEO Andy Kerr on 0300 330 9292