This grassroots charity based in the London Boroughs of Hackney and Camden supports children and their parents through the experience of family homelessness.
Family homelessness doesn’t look like the public perception of ‘homelessness’. In the UK, local authorities have to put an emergency roof over the head of any family in housing crisis to keep them from the streets. This emergency solution is usually a hostel where the whole family is accommodated in a single room. While these measures keep families from the streets, living in these hugely overcrowded conditions presents real disadvantages to children, their life chances and the wellbeing of families. This disadvantage can become entrenched by the fact that many families remain in hostels for several years waiting for an affordable home, meaning whole childhoods are lived out in these facilities.
This charity was founded in 2016 to try to mitigate some of the disadvantage hostel-resident families face during their period of homelessness. They do this by running play, learning and welfare services within the hostels and offsite enrichment activities, with the aim of improving families’ day-to-day experiences, promoting their wellbeing and enhancing their longer-term prospects.
While they ran solely in the London Borough of Camden until 2021, they are starting hostel-based services in the London Borough of Hackney in August 2021. They are excited about this new chapter of their work and the opportunities and challenges ahead as they seek to support families in hostels to recover from the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This charity’s work has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced the closure of two of the hostels that they had previously worked in, meaning they have paused their hostel-based work in Camden for the time being. It also presented the opportunity to expand into Hackney, bringing forward their intention to work beyond just one London borough.
The organisation will continue to provide welfare support for their formerly homeless service users in Camden who were resettled during the pandemic through 2021, while launching their services in Hackney across four hostels. They intend to return to hostel-based work in Camden in 2022-23, when the council will open new family hostels, and will at this point effectively double their reach as they work concurrently across hostels in Hackney and Camden.
Currently the charity has a board of five trustees. They need to increase the capacity of the board of trustees so that they can achieve their growth strategy over the next five years and continue to best respond to the needs of homeless families within their boroughs.
They have a Director and a staff team of three who deliver their services within the family hostels alongside a team of around 35 volunteers. They have a broad support base, with the significant impact and value of their work recognised by their statutory and not-for-profit partners.
They are looking for new trustees who have the following skills and expertise to support the development of the charity's work:
- Expert by experience: a parent or young adult who has experience of living in a temporary accommodation hostel with their family
- Children’s Social Worker / teacher with experience of working in a diverse London borough, ideally in Camden or Hackney
- Housing / homelessness professional –from the legal, non-profit or statutory sector
- Fundraising – individuals experienced in bid-writing, securing grants and donations, and building corporate partnerships, and/or individuals with a network of trusts and foundations relevant to the charity's work
- Strategic communications and marketing – an individual with a background in marcomms and experience in building a meaningful presence on social media platforms
- IT / tech specialist, to support this organisation to better use technology to drive their work forward and increase their impact through use of their data.
They are also looking for a talented and passionate financial sector professional to take over from the current treasurer, who is looking to retire. This a strategic financial role overseeing the longer-term financial health and their investment performance, and is a vital role for this charity that supports homeless families.
With the demographic of the families they support and the locations they work in, they are particularly interested to hear from BAME individuals within any of the key areas they are currently recruiting for.
In addition to one of the above skills, they require trustees to have:
- A clear commitment to the mission of this charity, with the passion and energy needed to help realise it
- A willingness to meet the minimum time commitment (see below)
- Strategic vision
- Good, independent judgement
- A willingness to speak their mind, to ask questions and think creatively
- An ability to work effectively as a member of a team with a sense of shared purpose and collective responsibility, and an ability to take decisions for the good of the charity.
- An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship (support with this can be provided.)
Expectations of Trustees
This charity knows that being a Trustee is a time commitment. They ask potential Trustees to consider the role thoughtfully, and the expectations they have of all trustees:
- To attend all Trustees’ meetings, which last approximately two hours and take place four times a year. They are currently held over Zoom but may return to face-to-face or hybrid meetings in the future, in either the London Boroughs of Camden or Hackney.
- To proactively engage in the development of this charity on a three to five-year term, and use any specific skills, knowledge or experience they have to help the board reach sound decisions. This may involve leading discussions, identifying key issues, providing advice and guidance on new initiatives, and evaluating or offering advice on other areas in which the trustee has particular expertise.
- To attend at least two sessions of frontline delivery with the staff team a year.
- To undertake an Enhanced DBS check.
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