Emmaus Bolton runs an enterprise-based residential community for people who have been homeless, providing these people with a comfortable home, meaningful friendship and significant work, that restores confidence and hope.
After two years’ hard work Emmaus Bolton has repaired the damage caused by Covid and restored its performance and growth trajectory to pre-Covid levels. However, new challenges continue to emerge. For example, the pandemic brought significant changes to the demography of the homeless population and this has entailed bringing in additional skills, of course at a cost. Moreover, the new Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act 2023 will require significant adjustments to our systems over the next couple of years. On the other side of the coin there are huge opportunities to expand both in our business activities and our social impact and our committed team of professionals are hungry to reach out to many more people. Providing the right leadership and support to them is a key part of the role.
The need for a new chairperson arises because the present incumbent, after twenty-three years’ service wishes to step down. This is partly about the wisdom of bringing in new blood but also to enable him to give more of his time to opportunities in the wider Emmaus movement. It is understood by the trustees and senior staff members that a new chair will need to come with their own style of leadership while at the same time being sensitive to the values of the Emmaus movement. These values, taken collectively, are probably unique and Emmaus is at its most effective when it employs them fully in its strategic planning and operational activities. The willingness to read and reflect on them and the commitment to apply them are prime requirements for the new incumbent. Beyond that the role requires a people-oriented, business-savvy, well-organized and soft-touch team leader.
The role of the chairperson is primarily to lead the team and represent the charity to the outside world. Knowing a little about a lot of different subjects and knowing how to acquire knowledge when required is more important than specific expertise in particular fields. Speaking and writing are core skills. Business experience is desirable but not essential; business appreciation and financial prudence, however, are vital. Lived experience of homelessness or other deprivation would help but are not essential. Alternatively, experience of working with deprived or vulnerable people would be useful.
Although already very successful there is still untapped potential in the staff team. Finding a way to realize it represents a significant opportunity for the new incumbent. There is also the opportunity to continue the reshaping of the board. The task of replacing the founder trustees is well under way but by no means complete. Beyond that “there is a world needing help, and it is possible to change it, one step at a time, if we work together” (Emmaus International)