Trustee Interview – Richard Macmillan

Name: Richard Macmillan

Charity: Albert Kennedy Trust

Bio – Personal and professional experience and passions

I am Head of Legal and Governance at the British Heart Foundation.  I was previously at Russell Jones and Walker (latterly Slater and Gordon) as an employment lawyer representing individuals and trades unions, specialising in discrimination law.  I am passionate about social justice and in particular the rights of LGBT people and so I also volunteer as Liberal Democrat activist and was previously the Head of Legal at Pride in London as a volunteer.  I really believe in the power of volunteering to enhance community life.  Outside of work, I enjoy keeping fit, socialising and music.

 Tell us about your charity – what are your aims? 

The Albert Kennedy Trust is the UK’s best known LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity.  Our vision is a world without LGBTQ+ homelessness.  To help with our mission we provide various services to young people, which include providing safe homes to those in need and digital support services across the United Kingdom.

Q&A Questions

  1. How long have you been a trustee?

I have just joined!

  1. What made you want to become a trustee?

I am committed to volunteering and I felt my legal skills could be put to good use as a legal trustee and Company Secretary at AKT.  It is a wonderful feeling to know you are helping support a very worthwhile organisation in achieving its goals.

  1. Why did you want to support a charity in (insert sector)? E.g. Arts/International/Animals.

As a political activist who is committed to the rights of LGBTQ+ people, a charity that works with LGBTQ+ people seemed a good fit, where I have the opportunity to champion rights and opportunities.

  1. Did you know much about this charitable cause before you became involved as a trustee?

Yes, AKT is a well-known organisation and I was familiar with its work.

  1. What do you feel trusteeship adds to your personal and professional development?

Being a member of the board enhances my leadership skills and understanding of governances issues facing charities, which is important for my role as Head of Legal and Governance at the British Heart Foundation.  Also, it contributes to my sense of worth and well-being by contributing to a really important cause and championing the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

  1. What value have you been able to add to your charity with your personal and professional experience?

It is still early days, but I have already been able to contribute by using my experience at a large UK charity to help develop AKT and its overall governance.

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing charities?

Many charities have taken a bit of a bashing with various fundraising and safeguarding scandals in recent years, which has led to a significant increase in public scrutiny of how charities operate.  The key challenge will be to maintain public trust in the work and contribution of charities in an increasingly cynical world, which means investing in good governance and understanding risk.

  1. What would you say are the important attributes a trustee should have?

First and foremost a trustee needs to be passionate about the cause they are volunteering for! If you are going to give up a significant amount of your time you need to really believe in the work of the charity to keep motivated.  In addition, you need to have good leadership skills to help guide the charity’s strategic development, be willing to challenge in order to protect the charity and also be good in a crisis (they occasionally happen!).  However, an effective board is one that is diverse and inclusive, which draws on a variety of personalities and backgrounds, which in my experience leads to more effective decision making.

  1. If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a trustee what would it be?

Be passionate about the cause! Other skills can develop with time and experience, but you really need to believe in the work you do.  Being a trustee is an amazing experience where you have a unique opportunity to contribute to the community around you.