Pick of the Month - July 2020

3 July 2020 | By Naomi Chapman

Welcome to July’s Pick of the Month, which features changemakers from across the charity sector.

As lockdown eases for many organisations nationally, the effect of Covid-19 is by no means over for charities and social enterprises. The resilience organisations have shown over the last few months has been astounding, and we will continue to do all we can to support organisations going forwards. Please do get in touch for a free Power Hour if your organisation needs governance or fundraising guidance at this time. 


Trustee of the Month – Norinne Betjemann

Artswork’s mission to improve the lives of children and young people is dear to my heart and for years I’ve had enormous respect for the organisation and the people who make the work happen. Being a Trustee has enabled me to use what I’ve learned in previous work and to remain connected to the bigger picture.” 

Covid-19 has meant that Artswork as a whole has had to change, moving to virtual meetings, reconsidering working practice, and negotiating with its partners about change.

“It’s been, obviously, an incredibly unsettling time for everyone but I’m pleased to say that we have all adapted with speed, efficiency and faith in the work of the organisation and in each other. As Trustees we are particularly aware that this is a time to consider, more than ever, the welfare of our people alongside the need to ensure the sustainability of our work.”

On a very practical level, in the last couple of months, the Trustees have changed to meet virtually for one hour ‘out-of-schedule’ Trustee meetings which enable them to be up to speed on the rapid changes that are taking place and to ensure that the Executive has the full support of the Board. Another practical change was the establishment of a sub-committee to make quick-turnaround decisions. This sub-committee, and a set of procedures, was agreed by all Trustees.

“To give and get greatest value, it’s important for Trustees to be fully behind the aims, mission and goals of the organisation. Being a Trustee is a wonderful opportunity to learn, to be challenged and to give back to society.

Follow Artswork on Twitter @artsworkltd


Charity Leader of the Month – James Watson O’Neill

James Watson-O’Neill is Chief Executive at SignHealth, a charity working to improve the health and wellbeing of Deaf people by promoting easier access to healthcare and information, partnering with healthcare providers and delivering key services to reach Deaf people in need.

James joined SignHealth in 2016 after having worked in the charity sector since 2001. Before joining the charity he held a variety of roles at Scope and the NSPCC. James is a trustee of three different charities: the UK Council on Deafness; the British Society of Mental Health and Deafness; and the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group.

“I’ve never been prouder to have my job and to work with such amazing people. I’m really proud of how SignHealth has stepped up during the Covid-19 crisis. We’ve worked hard to fill the gaps by providing health information in British Sign Language and we quickly developed a new online BSL Interpreting service – www.BSLHealthAccess.co.uk – to ensure that Deaf people could still access healthcare. We’re paying for this with the charity’s reserves while we try to agree funding with the NHS.”

Follow SignHealth on Twitter at @SignHealth


Fellow of the Month – Sarah Ruff

Sarah Ruff became Development Manager of RADA following her Fellowship at Dance UK and is now Head of Development at the Polka Theatre. Sarah has been at Polka for nearly two years, joining the organisation in the middle of a £7.65 Million capital redevelopment. They now have only £250,000 left to raise, to open a state-of-the-art children’s theatre for 0-12 years olds.

“Fundraising is integral to most arts business models to implement and sustain good artistic practice. [Since the Fellowship] I now have the confidence and expertise to approach a much wider spectrum of arts funders. 

[At Polka] It has been fab working as part of a dedicated team who all want to make a positive difference to the lives of children. As a parent I have also experienced first-hand the amazing work of Polka. I am so inspired by my team for continuing to support families and schoolteachers during the Covid-19 epidemic. We are currently developing lots of contingency plans so that we have online and offline versions of all our programmes, in case social distancing measures should be lifted or continued. I expect our Capital target is likely to change and we’re awaiting more information to find out what the impact of Covid-19 will be. One thing is for certain though, children need creativity in their lives more than ever during this challenging time.”

Follow Sarah on Twitter @Patternfight or the Polka @polkatheatre


Social Entrepreneur of the Month – Pranav Chopra

Pranav Chopra is the co-founder and Chief Executive of NEMI, a  specialist tea company based in London. Established in 2016, NEMI has a varied product range, including biodegradable tea bags, whole leaf tea blends and chai syrup, sustainably packaged and sourced in support of the Fairtrade movement. However, NEMI is more than just a sustainable tea company, as it uses its tea business as a vehicle to tackle the issue of the integration of refugees within society. Through the provision of employment opportunities, NEMI supports the development of refugees’ work experience and job readiness skills, as well as their English speaking, which are all critical factors in the resettling of refugees within local communities. 

Speaking about the organisation, Pranav Chopra said: 

“At NEMI, our focus is not to just offer an exceptional product but to also ‘give back’ to society and do the right thing.

Follow Nemi Teas on Twitter @nemiteas

Back to top

Blog index

More by posts by Naomi Chapman

What can we learn from the Kids Company judgement?

10th January, 2022 | By Naomi Chapman

What should Trustees takeaway from the £10million, multi-year case against the Kids Company Trustees?

Giving Tuesday Campaign Round-Up

30th November, 2021 | By Naomi Chapman

The Cause4 team choose their favourite campaigns to mark Giving Tuesday 2021.

Pick of the Month - November 2021

2nd November, 2021 | By Naomi Chapman

As we near the end of another year of uncertainty, this monthly pick features a Trustee of a Young People’s charity, an ingenious social enterprise with a “library of things” and the Chief Executive of Trees for Cities working on not only a national, but international scale.

Let’s get started

Start a conversation that matters

Talk to us

Take a look at some of our courses

Find out more