Name: Damien Reynolds
Charity: Support for Survivors
Bio – Personal and professional experience and passions
I’ve been involved with the charity sector for around 3 years; having initially taken on a volunteering role for a large charity in which supports the mentoring of people in prison (leading to me currently acting as their Group Chair, both regionally and on a national level). This work helped further my passion for supporting marginalised people and in working to provide service users with the opportunity in which they can realise their own potential and thrive. This very much proved a catalyst for my decision to transition from the corporate world to a career within the charity sector by acting as a corporate fundraiser for a domestic abuse prevention charity for a fixed period of time.
Now I act as Head of Charity Partnerships for an external lottery manager, with my role being to manage relationships with 600+ non-profit organisations in which to aid their generation of significant and substantive income via their own society lottery. I also act a Trustee for a East Midlands-based charity that supports adult survivors of childhood abuse, furthermore forming a leading role on a fundraising sub-comittee for the charity.
In addition to this, I represent a housing development as their Company Secretary & Treasurer.
Please provide a brief description on your charity – what are your aims?
Founded in Nottinghamshire in 2010 by survivor Maxi-Leigh Robinson; Support for Survivors is a peer-led charity that provides support to male & female victims of childhood abuse.
Our 200+ survivors have experienced a broad range of abuse that includes emotional, physical & sexual abuse, and furthermore incest.
Survivors relive the extreme hurt and trauma they have experienced in their childhood each day, often resulting in; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety & Depression, Panic Attacks, Eating Disorders, Fear, Lack of Confidence/Self Worth and Suicide
Support for Survivors provide a safe, non-judgemental environment in which we offer service users a range of 1-2-1 therapeutic services and interventions. We help to identify and address negative behaviours by creating pathways into further education, mentoring programmes and personal development initiatives. We support service users with training and development opportunities that build confidence, resilience and in which aid their ability to enter or re-enter the workplace.
Our wide range of support is designed to enable survivors to thrive and lead happy, fulfilled lives that are free of abuse.
- How long have you been a trustee?I’ve been a Trustee for Support for Survivors for 1 year (having met one of the most inspiring and driven people I’ve come across; our CEO Maxine Leigh). Furthermore, I’ve been involved with a fundraising sub-committee as part of my role for much of this time.
- What made you want to become a trustee?I wanted to take the skill-set I’d developed within commercial organisations and use those transferrable skills as a source of good. In going beyond the simplicity of driving profit for a corporate business, I wanted to further the passion I had for making real change to a persons life.
In doing this I wanted to gain the further financial, legal and management experience that is necessary to understand the more complex decisions that need to be taken at board level. Also, my long term ambition is to act as a CEO for a charity so I felt that this was a step along that journey.
- Why did you want to support a charity in social care?I’ve always been uncomfortable to think that as a society we’re quick to write people off; whether that be based on the decisions an individual has taken in their life, who they are as a person or what may have happened to them in their past. For instance, if someone is homeless and asking a passerby for change, often society will have their head down and shuffle quietly by.
Do I think that’s because we’re a non-compassionate, mean spirited society? No, but we can often find it difficult to engage with situations or people we’re less able to relate to.
I wanted to support a charity that scratched beneath that surface and could engage some of the most marginalised individuals of society.
- Did you know much about this charitable cause before you became involved as a trustee?In short, no I didn’t! I knew I wanted to work with a charity that helped marginalised people, and for it to provide those service users with dignity, kindness and the opportunity for them to realise their full potential as members of society. Support for Survivors was a great avenue for me to channel that aim, given
survivors of childhood abuse often have a range of mental health issues and barriers in which to overcome (such as stigmatisation, vulnerability, a lack of trust in professional services that may have let them down previously, as well as poor education and illiteracy).
- What do you feel trusteeship adds to your personal and professional development?It adds an immense sense of responsibility, accountability and importance, given that service users rely so heavily on the service we’re delivering.
Ensuring the charity I represent is financially viable, has accurate accounts, policies and procedures and is working with an ambitious and realistic, long-term strategic aim is a huge responsibility to play a part in. The experience gained from scrutinising and improving the broad workings of a charity at a strategic level, allows a Trustee to develop a multi-level skillset beyond that of the everyday workplace.
- What value have you been able to add to your charity with your personal and professional experience?Having acted as a Company Secretary/Treasurer previously, I was able to offer my experience of finance management, budgeting and compliance.
Further to that, I’ve worked across advertising, banking and corporate management & fundraising throughout my career, so that enabled me to offer a broad range of experience.
On a personal level, my partner and I adopted our son some years ago, which allowed me to see first-hand what significant strides a person can take against all odds and in adversity. This certainly made me more compassionate, patient and more willing to help provide those individuals in similar positions with access to the support and opportunity needed.
Also, in being part of the LGBT community, I have been able to add a diversity to the board of Support for Survivors that was not previously there.
- What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing charities?Fundraising is in my opinion the biggest – and most constant – challenge to face the charity sector. In my experience of working with hundreds of charities as part of my professional job; there is a real need for charities to diversify income streams and be forward thinking and creative when it comes to engaging communities with their story. Young donors are statistically the most generous givers so there is also a real need to modernise the approach that has historically been taken.
Many charities each year close due to a lack of financial viability, so I think it is incumbent on the representatives of those charities not to be lost in the service they are – and should be – delivering. Focus must equally be on what enables charities to continue delivering their service in the years to come; by developing sustainable, diverse funding streams!
- What would you say are the important attributes a trustee should have?The key thing for me is a willingness to be actively involved and fully contribute to the inner workings of the charity you’re representing, whilst taking on additional responsibilities; such as forming sub-committees and acting as a constant ambassador for that cause. It’s important that potential Trustees are realistic of the time they can commit in which to do this.
Being a Trustee looks great on your CV, but it’s important not to lose sight of what responsibility there is! Therefore; passion, reliability and active involvement are must-haves! An ability to wear many different hats and roll your sleeves up and get stuck in with various tasks is also necessary.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a trustee what would it be?
Do it! Aside from the fact it adds to your professional experience and will broaden the skill-set you have, it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do.
I’m incredibly proud to be part of a movement that makes such a difference to the service users we support, and their ability to lead happy fulfilled lives.
Having felt somewhat unfulfilled as part of a career within the corporate world, becoming a Trustee is something I will always be thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to act as.