Wessex Community Action supports charities and voluntary groups through training, guidance and representation. In this new monthly volunteering column we look at how and why people give up their time for the benefit of their communities.


July 2 is Thank You Day, and in the voluntary sector we use it to show our appreciation for those who make a difference to their communities – in particular volunteers and this year especially trustees.

Trustees are a vital part of any voluntary organisation but because they often work in the background their important contribution can be overlooked. Trustees, who may also be known as board members, provide a clear strategy, safeguard assets and ensure resources are used well to keep the group sustainable.

Most charities and voluntary groups are almost always looking for new trustees so stepping up as  a volunteer would be fulfilling a vital role that has a real impact on the community. Charities and community groups particularly welcome new volunteers from those often underrepresented groups as well, including those with lived experiences who can help shape the organisation’s work, policies and strategies. 

There is a myth that trustees have to be retired and although many are and enjoy using their years of experience, most groups are flexible enough to schedule meetings to suit busy people. Volunteering as a trustee can be rewarding, develop new skills and experience and, research has shown, be beneficial to mental health and wellbeing. Research by the Charity Commission showed that 90 per cent of the around 700,000 active trustees in England and Wales find the role rewarding.

Richard Briggs is a new trustee at homeless charity Doorway in Chippenham and has enjoyed his first six months. Richard, who has long experience in the housebuilding industry, says: “It’s a way to use my skills and a means of giving back a bit. It’s a pleasure to give and that’s been rewarding in its own right.

“When you have worked and had a career you don’t really know what you know so you bring stuff to the party without even knowing when you are talking about your experiences and that’s rewarding as well.”

Wessex Community Action’s Community Development Workers support Wiltshire voluntary and community sector with developing their board of trustees and their roles, responsibilities, and recruitment. Volunteer and Community Development Worker Sarah Pickering said: “We want to thank the many trustees across the voluntary and community sector in Wiltshire, who work so hard in leading, guiding and steering these organisations – their contribution is invaluable. We would encourage anyone to think about becoming one.”

Wessex Community Action’s Wiltshire Together online portal is a free and easy to use community platform for voluntary groups and charities to advertise community events and for people to search for volunteering opportunities. The site has new Volunteering in Wiltshire page full of information and signposting to volunteering across Wiltshire, including opportunities for trustees.

Sign up to Wiltshire Together at wiltshiretogether.org.

To find out more about Wessex Community Action’s support with developing trustees go to wessexcommunityaction.org.uk/contact/.