Cath Ames, Autism Together's Chair

This week (November 2-6) is Trustees Week – a week to showcase the work of charity trustees across the UK.

So to mark it, we asked Autism Together’s Chair of Trustees Cath Ames to explain a little more about her role and the importance of trustees.

“So, what exactly does a trustee do?

Well, every organisation is set up in a different way. Businesses have owners or shareholders but are usually run by managers and staff. Larger clubs, schools and charities are run as businesses, either for their members, their students or, as in Autism Together’s case, to fulfil their charitable objectives. Organisations like these aren’t usually owned by anyone and this is where trustees come in…

Trustees take legal responsibility for making sure that a charity serves its beneficiaries. At Autism Together it is the people we support who are our beneficiaries, but also families, staff and the community. Trustees must act on behalf of these people in accordance with the law and the organisation’s governing documents and rules. They must also act collectively, as a Board or a team.

Being a responsible trustee is a complicated balance of all of this. While Trustees can set a direction or plan a development, we couldn’t operate such a large charity as Autism Together without a skilled CEO and Senior Leadership Team in place to run the complex day-to-day business.

Our trustees go through a recruitment process and an induction and then commit time every month to attending meetings, reviewing information, then discussing and agreeing plans. All our trustees demonstrate values such as honesty and integrity, and are committed to Autism Together’s aims and values.

The trustees that make up our Board have the legal, financial and management skills to enable us to understand the complex decisions that need to be taken. Our trustees also have skills to encourage team working, problem solving, asking difficult questions, and even seeing the funny side of things. Importantly, our Board members also have a keen understanding of autism which, when combined with our other skills, allows us to work in the best interests of the people we support, our staff, and the wider community.

Autism Together was founded by families who knew their children would flourish and be safe if they had the right care and environment. As a result of their efforts and vision, hundreds of families have since benefited from the services and homes we provide. As trustees, we remain committed to supporting these families, maintaining our services and enabling our people to lead meaningful lives.

I became a trustee at Autism Together because I believe in the huge importance and value of our services to so many families and individuals we support. As trustees we can ensure, collectively, that our charity’s vital work continues long into the future.”

Are you interested in becoming a trustee for Autism Together? For more information, please email:
babs.williamson@autismtogether.co.uk