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In Conversation with our new Chair of Trustees

Updated: Apr 16



SWALLOW was delighted to welcome a new Chair of Trustees to our Trustee board at our recent AGM. We thought it would be lovely to catch up with Jill to see how she feels about her new role, about SWALLOW and also to find out a bit more about her!

 

Hi Jill, we are so delighted that you have chosen to become Chair of Trustees for SWALLOW Charity, what made you decide to take this role?

It’s a real privilege to serve SWALLOW and its members as Chair of the Trustees team.  I would like to thank the members for voting for me and to Jade for asking me to say a little bit about myself today.


I’d never heard about SWALLOW until my daughter Lizzie’s social worker suggested that she might become a member and start working in their cafe.  The more I read about SWALLOW, the more I liked the organisation.  Member-led, providing support and activities that focused on  promoting the member’s quality of life – all the things that make SWALLOW unique.

 

What do you think are important qualities to have to be a Trustee?

Trustees are there to support the senior leadership team and make sure that SWALLOW and its finances are managed well and safely so we can enable teenagers and adults with learning disabilities to live as independently as they wish and enjoy life more fully.

 

The team of Trustees bring a wide range of skills and experience to the organisation – from teaching people with learning disabilities, work in finance, IT, local government and managing charities, to those like Chris and Stephen (our out-going Chair) who have supported SWALLOW for many years and facilitated its growth and development. 


But above all, they bring a real passion for supporting people with learning disabilities to live the life they chose, listening to them and making their voices heard.  At each meeting we hear the report from the members’ Management Committee.  Together with  the AGM and Evaluation Day, this helps us to check that we get it right.  So – a huge thank you to the Trustee team for all their hard work behind the scenes!


Your daughter is a member of SWALLOW, do you have any comments about how the charity has helped to benefit her life?

Seeing Lizzie grow in confidence and enjoying using her cooking skills in the cafe, made me want to give something back to SWALLOW.  So, when I retired from full-time nursing 6 years ago, I agreed to join SWALLOW’s team of Trustees. 

 

What do you think is special and unique about SWALLOW?

I am part of the management team at the Hive Community Centre in Peasedown St John and I love the way that SWALLOW's cafe there makes such a difference to the community feel of the place.


Both cafes showcase just what people with learning disabilities have to offer – and their cakes are amazing!  It’s a real joy to see the members supporting and helping each other at work.  Whenever I visit the Radstock Cafe, Josh always puts me in my place, he says ‘You’re Lizzie’s mum!’  and I have to admit that I am!

 

How do you see SWALLOW developing in the future?

The next few years are not going to be easy for anyone providing social care, with finances squeezed for local governments and charities alike, while the need for support and housing for people with learning disabilities is likely to increase. 


We have plans to increase what SWALLOW can offer in our community and are currently finalising our strategy for the next 3-5 years.   We are committed to making sure this is not done at the expense of the quality of service we provide to our members and that we continue to listen to  their needs  and wishes.


What do you like doing in your free time?

I try (unsuccessfully most of the time) to grow more vegetables than bindweed on my allotment. On a fine day, when it stops raining, my husband  and I get on our tandem and cycle out into the countryside for coffee and cakes.  Sundays see us worshipping at the Methodist church in Peasedown. We also work together with a team from the other churches in the village to manage the Hive Community Centre with its the community fridge and pantry.  So...not a lot of spare time!



Thank you Jill for taking the time to talk to us, it's great to hear from you. We would like to wish you all the best in your new role here at SWALLOW!

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