The Jantela Partnership Development Worker (Governance & User Involvement) has been in post since November 2009. The initial work centred on supporting some partner organisations that were in need of support as their governance and leadership was in crisis or they were facing extreme difficulties.
Some of this work included:
Meeting Asylum & Refugees in Kingston upon Hull (ARKH) and looking at ways forward to build sustainability into their management.
Supporting Cultures United Kirklees (CUK) to prepare for an annual general meeting which would elect a new board of trustees and formalise the relationship with the membership.
Meeting with Bradford Action for Refugees (BAfR) and attending their strategy away day. Supporting them with their medium term strategy.
Working with Refugee & Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (RASA) on a variety of issues including supporting them with policies particularly around employment law.
Once these initial issues had been dealt with and improvements had been made we moved onto delivering direct training to a number of partners.
Training has been delivered to the following organisations:
Refugee Employment, Training & Advice Service (RETAS). Work undertaken with the trustees to look at the role of an effective board and how they could improve their performance.
Refugee & Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (RASA). Development work to help them look at their forward strategy and planning.
Refugee Education Training Advice Service Leeds (RETAS)
RETAS Trustees asked for training on issues around members roles and responsibilities, taking part in meetings effectively, decision making. They also wanted to use the sessions to partially review their governing documents and effectively spelling out what those mean in practice for the board and each individual trustee. With the aim of improving the effectiveness of the RETAS Board has they develop as an organisation and face up to the challenges of the next few years.
The objectives of the sessions were:
- To increase the understanding of the collective roles and responsibilities of the Board of Trustees.
- To consider the current strengths and weaknesses of the current committee in carrying these out.
To look at how the Board of Trustees can strengthen their own performance and encourage others to get involved.
What support was given?
An initial meeting was held with the Director and acting Chair in which we discussed the requirements of the training. We then set up two training sessions, one as part of an away day and another at the end of a Directors meeting.
The methods used were participative, designed to spark debate and to be fun. We used a quiz, a self assessment and exercises designed to encourage discussion and thought amongst those involved. We based the training on the NCVO’s Good Governance: A Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector and sources material from the NCVO’s website. http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/advice-support/trustee-governance/publications.
What has been achieved through that support?
The Board feels more confident to carry out its role and to take it responsibilities seriously. All the trustees gave positive feedback and felt that, even though they had been trustees for a number of years that they had learnt something about how they work and how they could improve their performance.
The sessions highlighted several issues that needed to be addressed in terms and a list of actions was created which Jantela offered further support to them so that they may be completed. These included looking for new trustees and developing the membership of the organisation.
There were strengths to the organisation that the processes highlighted but also some weaknesses. The action plan that was produced looked at how they could address these and work with the Jantela Partnership