Governance Round-Up #VolunteersWeek

1 June 2022 | By Rebecca Ward

Volunteers' Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. In honour of #VolunteersWeek2022 we wanted to celebrate volunteering in a governance role by presenting a round-up of our Pick of the Month Trustees from the year so far. 


January Trustee of the Month – Nigel Coopey, Scouts Association

Nigel Coopey came to Trusteeship through an unusual path: moving from being a Scout in his youth, to a leader, before joining the national Trustee Board of the Scouts Association. He was motivated to take the role to better support local Leaders and Managers running activity across the country. 

During his time as a Trustee, he lists two key highlights:

“Firstly, the decision twenty years ago to become fully co-educational. This was a brave decision at the time but absolutely the right one with hindsight. And, secondly, my leadership for three years of an initiative to re-grow Scouting after a period of decline. Through our work, and several high-profile events that took many hundreds of people to organise, we managed to turn the situation around dramatically.”

His second Trustee position – for his university Student Union – came after being inspired at a University reunion dinner to support the current cohort of students. 

When reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on governance, Nigel said:

“At first it was a struggle, then like most organisations we adapted to being online. And now we are seeing one big benefit – huge savings in cost and time by not having to travel to Trustee meetings. As life returns to ‘normal’ we are starting to have – and need to have - some face-to-face meetings, but we have also come to realise that we can be more effective if we have frequent online meetings.”

Nigel’s advice for a prospective Trustee is to achieve balance:

“Make sure that you understand the time and responsibilities that you are committing to - which is never just ‘one meeting a quarter’! But, equally – once you are contributing as a Trustee there will always be suggestions of extra roles and responsibilities that you could take on and there is a danger that you become overloaded and eventually lose interest in the cause that inspired you.”

Follow the Scouts Association on Twitter at @scouts


February Trustee of the Month – Liz Edwards, Unity Theatre

Liz Edwards is a senior HR specialist with a lifelong passion for the arts, having studied Drama at the University for Manchester as an undergraduate. Seeking to apply her professional skills to a setting she was passionate about, Liz took on a Trusteeship at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool, a local arts organisation aligned to her values of inclusion and representation.

At the outset of Covid-19, the Unity Theatre board became much more reactive and short-term while assessing different scenarios. Now, while the pandemic is far from over, the board is focussing on readdressing the balance to focus on more strategic and generative governance modes.

“I am incredibly proud of how the organisation dealt with the challenges faced during this time, having to make extremely difficult decisions but never losing sight of the Unity’s charitable aims, values and the needs of the people the theatre supports.

I’m not sure highlight is the right word as there were many difficult situations to deal with but being able to offer guidance, reassurance and sometimes just a presence of support during what was an incredibly challenging time felt fulfilling as a Trustee.“

Liz’s advice for a new Trustee is:

“Not to underestimate the value of your unique perspective, no matter what stage you are at in life. I think a lot of people might think that you need to be at a certain level in your career or in a particular kind of job to contribute to a board. Whilst certain areas of expertise are helpful, it is the diversity of viewpoints and experience that makes a strong trustee group, in my opinion. The range of perspectives around the table (or Zoom screen!) and their ability to listen to each other and problem-solve collectively is what can add true value to the executive team.” 

Follow Unity Theatre on Twitter at @unitytheatre


March Trustee of the Month – Peter Sutton, Luton Citizens Advice

Peter Sutton is Treasurer and Vice Chair of Luton Citizens Advice. Peter initially applied for the position of Trustee and Treasurer after spotting this as the perfect opportunity to gain Board level experience which could support his career in the not-for-profit sector.

“The experience has been life changing as I could see at first hand and for the first time the vital role Citizens Advice has to play in the community; the purposeful work that the staff and volunteers did and how I could contribute my skills and experience in supporting and governing the team. It accelerated my decision to leave paid work and focus on my voluntary opportunities.”

Peter spoke to us about the impact of the pandemic on how the Board now operate:

“As a trustee, Covid in many ways enhanced my engagement and the governance of the business. In March 2020, Luton Citizens Advice closed its doors for the first time in its history and pivoted to telephone and digital advice. The Board implemented a weekly Emergency Trustee Meeting attended by key trustees and representatives from the senior leadership where we focussed on ensuring staff and volunteers had the right equipment to work remotely and that we were continuing to support staff, volunteers and clients through the challenges of the pandemic.The meetings moved to fortnightly and have remained in place to this day. They have been hugely beneficial to me as a Trustee as I have gained a far greater understanding of the operational side of the business and the greater level of regular engagement has enhanced the enjoyment of the role and hopefully the value I can add as a Trustee.”

Offering his advice to anyone considering becoming a Trustee, Peter said:

“I would recommend anyone of any age or experience to become a Trustee. You learn new skills, gain different experiences and you do important and purposeful work. You also get to work with dedicated and hard working colleagues doing amazing things for their communities. 

I would advise that they go in with their eyes open - be aware that the more you invest in your understanding of the role and the charity you are working with, the greater the satisfaction you will gain. There are a number of great courses where you can learn more about being a trustee and network with your peers - these are very valuable and I wish I had done more of these earlier as you pick up so much insight that you can bring back to your Board. You never stop learning in your paid work and the same is true as a Trustee.”

You can keep up to date with Peter on Twitter at @Luton_CAB


April Trustee of the Month – Lauren Di Pietro

Lauren Di Pietro is a Trustee for CAMEO, a charity providing respite for the carers of people suffering with dementia in the Borough of Spelthorne. CAMEO supports individuals at its day centres, by providing a weekly programme of activities for those suffering with the condition. Its services include arranging outings, organising stimulating activities and offering companionship for confused people as well as providing well-needed support and additional advice for their carers.

It was her wealth of knowledge in dementia and carers respite which led Lauren to apply for the Trustee position advertised at CAMEO day centres. 

Reflecting on her recent governance practice, Lauren said:

“I joined as a trustee during COVID-19, therefore I don't have any experience of governance pre-pandemic. Though I would say that I feel the pandemic has assured Trustees that remote living/working/volunteering is possible through virtual meetings which is how we communicate now, enabling us to widen our reach for volunteers.”

Lauren offered her advice to anyone considering becoming a charity Trustee:

“I would certainly advise taking Cause4’s training course as it was very insightful into the role and gave some good practical examples. I would also say don't be afraid to ask questions - there is no such thing as a silly question and it's important to fully understand the role.”

Lauren’s reason for becoming a Trustee for CAMEO was to have the opportunity to share her knowledge in a meaningful way. We asked Lauren what the highlight of her work in governance has been to date: 

“The highlight of my work is seeing my ideas and knowledge being used in a practical way to inform decisions of how the charity operates.”

See more about CAMEO’s work on Twitter at @CAMEODAYCENTRES


May Trustee of the Month – Heidi Leung

Heidi Leung became a Trustee for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, a 15-acre botanical gardens and educational Charity in the heart of Edgbaston, in September of 2021. The gardens aim to support plant biodiversity and an understanding of its importance to the natural environment through conservation, education, engagement, and enjoyment. 

Heidi explains what motivated her to become a Trustee: 

“I had been a Trustee for two years at a local multi academy trust when I saw that the Birmingham Botanical Gardens was looking for a Trustee with education experience. I was looking to engage with something outside of the education sector, which had been my comfort zone for most of my career to date. I had never worked in the Charity or horticulture sector before, and this role as Trustee felt like a perfect bridge linking the three sectors.  

On personal level, the Gardens had become a green oasis for my family when we were living in the city centre, and I wanted to contribute to its future success.”

Reflecting on her experience as a Trustee, Heidi said: 

“Being a Trustee for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens has offered me a unique insight into the organisation, the people who work there (including the wonderful volunteers!), and those using the Gardens for educational or enjoyment purposes. It is extremely rewarding to know that my contribution, along with the shared commitment and aspirations of my fellow Trustees, will ensure the future success of the Gardens.”

Finally, we asked Heidi what advice she would give to anyone considering becoming a Trustee: 

“Research the organisation before you apply and ask questions! Do your values and interests align with the organisation? Do you see where you can add value as a Trustee? If possible, have an informal conversation with the Chair (or similar Executive) about what they are looking for in a Trustee.  

Finally, be realistic and honest about the time you can commit to the role. There is a lot of work which goes on outside committee meetings and, depending on the circumstances of the organisation, this may mean being more involved at certain times of the year.”

Keep up to date with what’s going on at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Twitter at @BhamBotanicalGd


June Trustee of the Month – Rishi Kapoor, Z-Arts

Rishi Kapoor is the Founder and CEO of, a global streaming platform for creators without ads or monthly subscriptions. He is also a Trustee on the Board for Z-Arts, a Charity and arts centre based in Manchester which supports creativity in children, young people, and families. An Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, its mission is to inspire and enable generations of young people from across Manchester and beyond to utilise their creativity to maximise their potential. 

Speaking about what first motivated him to become a Trustee, Rishi said:

“I’ve worked in the private and corporate sector throughout my career, so I felt a real gap or need to just give something back. It was also motivated by thinking about what legacy and impact I want to make within my current capacity and domain. Z-Arts resonated with me due to its focus on creativity and community. Whilst being a Trustee can be onerous in terms of time and responsibility, it is incredibly fulfilling and the value you get back from being a Trustee is probably 10-fold the value you are trying to contribute.”

Rishi reflects on the highlight of his Trustee experience so far: 

“Honestly, the highlight is being a consumer of the organisation I am part of. When I go and experience Z-Arts as a member of the public and I see the value it gives people, that is the highlight for sure.”

To summarise, Rishi offers some advice to anyone considering taking up Trusteeship:

“There is a steep learning curve, and it will take up lots of your time, so you have to be passionate about the cause. However, it will build your character and skillset very quickly in a very positive way.”

Check out Z-Arts on Twitter at @Z_arts_mcr

How are you celebrating Volunteers Week? Let us know on Twitter @TrusteeLeaders @NCVOvolunteers

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Governance Round-Up #VolunteersWeek

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