I became a trustee at Emmaus Cambridge in May 2019 because I knew it was a cause that I could really get behind and take pride in being associated with.
I’m a bit younger than most trustees at the age of 26 but it is nice to have a diverse range of perspectives on the board. As a part qualified accountant, I work very closely with the Finance Manager, Chief Executive and Treasurer at Emmaus Cambridge, using my finance, accounting and financial reporting skills.
Currently I work as an Auditor for Ernest & Young, which is a large multinational accounting firm, but I started at a local firm in Cambridge working with a variety of organisations – some charities and some private businesses.
I have a few friends who work full-time in charities and they really enjoy it. I am jealous in some ways because their work can be highly rewarding compared to working in a corporate environment, however I’m very fortunate that I have the opportunity to obtain great experience in my workplace and bring it across to Emmaus Cambridge to support the community.
The Emmaus model really stood out to me when I began researching trustee roles. I like what it stands for – solidarity, community and people helping one another to better themselves. Homelessness is an enormous issue in our country and a lot of people have to go through it unfortunately. I think the work that Emmaus Cambridge does as a model and a charity is so effective at helping to tackle homelessness.
Before lockdown, I volunteered in the community a couple of times and was looking forward to our Easter closure day where we play sports and share some food together as a community. That would have been nice to do, but it looks like we might have to wait until next year or hopefully Christmas!
As a board, we normally meet every three months but during the lockdown period we had to change the way we work. We now have weekly meetings both as a board and as a Resources Committee to ensure that the community can continue providing support for companions, throughout this challenging period, in spite of the 12-week closure of our social enterprise.
This has meant that I have become more involved in areas that I wouldn’t typically focus on before, such as trying to control costs, raising grant money and seeking loans. We wouldn’t normally actively fundraise because the majority of our funds are generated through our social enterprises, but due to the impact of coronavirus and the closure of our social enterprise we have been forced to reach out further afield to seek support.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, working so closely with the board has been rewarding for me. I feel that my work has had a real impact and I’ve helped to rebalance the finances, bring in grant money and support the Emmaus Cambridge Finance Manager, along with the wider team. Seeing the community really coming together after lockdown has also been rewarding; the companions and staff members have all stepped up to help the community recover.
Since re-opening, our site has a slightly different feel to it because we have restrictions in place. Usually, there are a lot of people relaxing in the café or walking around the gardens but now there is a one-way system that changes the dynamic slightly but has also been very effective in helping to look after the safety of companions, staff and customers. Looking forward, we are focusing on launching our own online store, which is especially important now in the event that we enter a second national or local lockdown.
We are always on the lookout for new trustees who have skills that could help Emmaus. For anyone interested, I would tell them to go for it. Emmaus is a very dynamic organisation and I take pride in being on the Board of Trustees.