Charities must put those we help on the board of trustees

The night before my first trustee meeting as chief executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, the chair gave me a call: “one of the trustees can’t make it – they’ve had a cardiac arrest”. They were fine once their internal defibrillator kicked in, but it was possibly the most convincing excuse I have heard for missing a meeting.

It made me think about the advantages of having a board of trustees who are service users. I know that the idea of service user trustees sounds daunting for some, but these are the people who know first-hand the importance of the charity’s mission. It’s easy to see service user involvement as just another box to tick. But I have been lucky enough to have worked with two service user-led boards in the past 10 years and they have been the most insightful, representative, passionate and sincere – in short, the best – I have seen.

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