What it’s like being a trustee for Brecon and District Mind
Eva has been a trustee for Brecon and District Mind for 11 months. Here she gives a behind the scenes account of what this involves and why she feels glad to have taken up the opportunity.
Content warning – this blog mentions sexual abuse and addiction.
If you're interested in finding out more about the role of a trustee in a charitable organisation, the Charity Commission has some useful guidance here.
Use our handy tool for finding your local Mind to find out about trustee opportunities or other ways to get involved.
I have been a trustee for Brecon and District Mind for the grand total of 11 months. We each make a difference in our own unique ways and between us have diverse skills and experiences. It’s taken a while to find my feet but the joy of being part of such a supportive group is that there is always someone there to hold my hand and nudge me in the right direction.
Supporting the organisation through challenging times has sometimes felt like a roller coaster ride. We have been there for each other and formed a strong bond. It is our role to make decisions on behalf of the charity. Whilst demanding at times, it is also a massive privilege. Our common passion to fulfil our purpose of ‘Help me at a time I need it, to enable me to manage my mental health and wellbeing,’ pulls us together and makes us stronger.
“What I love about being a trustee is that together we strive to ensure the needs of people who use our services are put first as the priority.”
We continually ask ourselves – are we making the best use of our staff and volunteers? And we do our best to review how effective we are. I feel this is the key to everything we do – we are human beings and we simply do our best. When unsure - we seek advice and make our decisions from an informed perspective.
I’ve sometimes wondered just how I’m adding value to the team, the organisation and most importantly of all to the members who use our services. When I voice any doubts I am wonderfully reassured that I do indeed make a valuable contribution. This means a lot as I can be affected by the demon of self-doubt at times.
We may not always agree but the joy is we are able to voice any concerns and when a decision is made we stand as one. In this way we can serve the community and fulfil our role of overseeing the strategic, financial and legal governance of our Charity.
What is important for me is that we do not lose sight of the fact that people's pain and emotional distress are very real.
For many of us, our experiences of distress and mental health challenges are an understandable reaction to adverse life events.
I am passionate about being part of the mental health movement to shift attitudes and reduce stigma, especially around sexual abuse and addiction. I have my own lived experience of overcoming childhood sexual abuse trauma and adult addiction. Sober for 35 years, I made a choice to embrace my history and reconcile with the past.
This involved writing my life-affirming memoir, ‘Wearing Red, One Woman’s Journey to Sanity’ to reclaim control of the telling of my story and make my own meaning. I wrote the book to show it is possible to survive tragic circumstances, overcome the shame of childhood trauma and create a successful life of integrity, dignity and self-respect.
This means I can bring an important perspective with my lived experience of mental health challenges. I have had personal experience of the damage to self-esteem and human dignity that society’s prejudice, discrimination and ignorance can inflict.
"I feel so lucky I have the opportunity to donate my skills, time and attention to a cause I care so much about and is so close to my heart."
We all have an unreserved right to be listened to, be heard and understood. Being a trustee means I have the honour of being part of an organisation which provides people with an opportunity to speak out, keep feeling our feelings and stand tall. The more connected we are the more powerful we become. This helps us feel less alone.
We provide a chance for people to have their stories listened to, with empathy and acceptance not judgement. It is a privilege to help to make this work possible. I am passionate about being part of an organisation that supports others in finding meaning in what happens to us.
I have had the privilege of meeting some wonderful human beings, amongst the members, staff and trustees. I most definitely made the right move in volunteering to become a trustee of Brecon and District Mind.
I feel fortunate to be able to use all of my skills, passion, energy and expertise. It requires a lot of work and dedication but overall is worth the effort and the heart warming success stories we are part of, in our community, are reward enough.
Eva works as a guide, coach and mentor. She is a trained facilitator and runs writing for wellbeing workshops for Brecon and District Mind as a volunteer. She previously worked as director of the Addiction Recovery Agency, a national charity working with people recovering from addiction.
Share your story with others
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.