When retirement means putting your skills to use for social good

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People Matters CEO Tina Turnbull recently found new trustee Richard Firth and she is delighted by the difference he has made.

Richard is a highly experienced director level executive with well over thirty years accumulated knowledge and skill. He wasn’t ready to give up corporate life entirely and wanted to share his proven commercial leadership ability. He particularly enjoys working in education. Supplementing his consultancy work by becoming a trustee was an “excellent decision”, he says.

“I have most enjoyed seeing how an organisation like People Matters can make such a difference to individuals,” he adds. But it’s not without its challenges. In the role for about a year, he admits it takes time to get to know what’s needed. He’s had to become “familiar with the different activities of the charity and understanding their aims and objectives to be able to contribute appropriate support.” 

“We are a disability organisation and our members can have multiple disadvantages in their lives," explains Tina. "Statistics show that only around 7% of people with learning disabilities and only 15% of those on the autistic spectrum are in work. The board decided our education and employment service could really benefit from additional strategic expertise.”

Tina is delighted at the difference Richard has made. “Through his volunteering, the board has reviewed its business plan to be more ambitious. His – and the efforts of the staff team – mean that our education offer has more than trebled in size. It has changed from general interests into a transforming programme that supports people into suitable paid and unpaid work."

“His – and the efforts of the staff team – mean that our education offer has more than trebled in size."

Tina is very positive about Richard’s contribution. “Richard has been able to help and challenge the staff team in being confident in growing the provision we offer. He has been able to be the voice of education expertise and supported us to have a growth appetite, as we have balanced how we develop as an organisation across education and social care in a sustainable manner. Through his volunteering the board has even more ambitious goals.”

“We have used Reach Volunteering successfully to find volunteers several times," adds Tina. "So it was natural to come back to them to find the person we were looking for. Based in Leeds we were originally concerned whether we would get local applicants, but everyone we have recruited through Reach has been based within a practical distance.”

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