Medic to Medic is so proud of our trustees, who do an excellent job managing all of the charity’s activities with skill and care. In honour of Trustee Week, for this week’s blog we will introduce you to M2M trustees Cathy, Richard and Nick. They have much insight to offer into the trustee role, what it takes to run a charity, and the sense of satisfaction that comes from supporting the health systems in Malawi, Zambia and Uganda through our sponsored students.
Thank you Medic to Medic Trustees for all that you do!
First of all, what is a trustee?
Trustees have the legal responsibility for a charity. They are the ones responsible for the general management of a charity, they govern and make collective decisions regarding all the charity’s operations. They are appointed or elected in many different ways depending on the organisation.
So who can be a trustee?
Just about anyone! An effective trustee panel should be made up of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and skill sets. Trustee panels should have people with both hard (legal, financial, managerial, etc) and soft (team working, problem solving, decision making etc) skills.
Generally, trustees are over 18 years of age and certain restrictions do apply, which differ charity to charity. Visit the Charity Commission for a detailed checklist.
In terms of what it takes to be a trustee, M2M Trustee Richard says, “there’s a lot to learn and little to know.” Becoming a trustee can be a great opportunity for both professional and personal growth.
Meet our Trustees
Cathy was formerly a GP and was involved in health education teaching. In 1981, as a medical student at University of Leeds, Cathy spent several months in Lilongwe, Malawi with a leprosy organisation. Since then she had always felt a connection to Malawi, her family says she would always talk about it. Her next visit to Malawi was not until 2018, when she visited with Medic to Medic.
She got involved with Medic to Medic through a friend who was already a supporter. After retiring from working full time in 2016 and learning about the organisation, she wrote to M2M founder Kate Mandeville and immediately became a supporter and trustee.
She had some idea of what would be involved as she was already a trustee for a local homelessness charity in Darbyshire.
Cathy serves as the chair and is involved in organising and running quarterly trustee meetings.
Richard was also a former GP, a renal physician who retired 11 years ago. Richard’s connection with Malawi and M2M started with his love of travel. Richard had heard Malawi was a lovely country to visit. He first spent a month there teaching at a hospital in Blantyre. He went back for holiday a short while later with friends.
He got involved with M2M after reading an article by M2M founder Kate Mandeville. He mistakenly thought it was a charity that provided teaching, but decided he wanted to be a trustee after learning about the set up as a sponsoring organisation.
Richard is heavily involved in the Hurst Essay Competition, a once yearly essay writing competition for students and graduates. He also helps write grants and volunteers for projects as they come up.
Nick is a semi-retired water resources engineer—someone who measures river flows and designs damns and irrigation schemes.
From 1976-80, Nick worked in a government position in Malawi dealing with water resources in Lilongwe, as at the time there were no hydrologists in the country.
Kate Mandeville, M2M’s founder, is Nick’s daughter. Kate was born in Malawi, and Nick and his wife always promised to take her back to the hospital she was born in when she turned 21. During this return visit, Kate was struck by the lack of human resources in the hospital. So Medic to Medic was born, and Nick was quickly roped in by his daughter to volunteer.
The pair ran the organisation together for the first few years, the first students were supported in 2007. Kate did the fundraising and Nick did various other bits, including getting equipment and making physical visits to Malawi.
Nick currently manages M2M’s finances and accounts.
Q: What has Medic to Medic achieved that you are most proud of?
For Cathy, the personal relationships between sponsor and student the charity fosters are what makes her most proud. As a sponsor with M2M, it is possible to mentor an individual student by getting to know them over time. Through Whatsapp and other modern tech channels communication with students is quite direct. This made it possible to have direct knowledge of the students’ situations during the covid crisis for example, where traditional news and information channels would have lagged behind.
For Richard, the fact that M2M has to date supported about 130 graduates through their courses is most rewarding. Even better, the vast majority of these graduates now work in their home countries, so contribute to the workforce in places which desperately in need.
For Nick, these success stories are similarly the source of the most pride, and often are due to connections made with individuals like Helen, the former dean of students at the College of Medicine in Blantyre, who refers struggling students to M2M for help.
Q: What is the most challenging part of being a trustee?
For Cathy, it is mitigating rising tuition fees through constant fundraising, especially through the covid crisis where fundraising activities have been limited in new ways. The pressure to make sure there’s enough income poses the greatest challenge.
For Richard, coming to grips with online and digital platforms like social media has been the most challenging, especially through the covid crisis where in-person trustee meetings and fundraising activities are not possible.
For Nick, managing the accounts requires much administration. For even a small charity, the number of hours needed to put into keeping the accounts is enormous. It is challenging to feel that the time could be better spent doing things more directly for students or giving full attention and energy to meetings.
Thank you M2M trustees for doing a stellar job.
Interested in how you can get involved with Medic to Medic? Please visit our website at www.medictomedic.org.uk to send us a message, or use the contact feature on this blog. We’d love to hear from you!
SOURCES and FURTHER READING
National Council for Voluntary Organisations What is a Trustee?