My first 100 days as Chair – quite a rollercoaster!
I’d done my homework for the interview to be Chair of Citizens Advice Epsom and Ewell. Still, I surprised even myself at how little I knew and how much there was to learn. It’s been quite a rollercoaster!
Yvette Ball is Chair at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell.
My background was in the Prison and Probation Service and I’ve chaired two other charities, for the homeless and refugees, each completely independent and relatively young in their establishment. I was unprepared for the implications of being affiliated to a large organisation, Citizens Advice, set up in 1939.
CAEE is a stand-alone charity, but we receive superb support in the form of information about benefits and legal changes and, best of all, campaigning for welfare changes from the national body. There is a downside which is the somewhat bureaucratic processes. CA national is currently addressing these acting on feedback from members – hooray!
At the first board meeting which I attended as an observer, we were photographed and, to my astonishment, the picture became the charity’s branch Christmas card! A great idea to demonstrate who we are and our commitment to supporters.
Our volunteer advisers
I sat in on some appointments with clients and was impressed by the breadth of knowledge of the volunteer advisers dealing with a huge range of problems sensitively and compassionately.
The next Board meeting was for me to lead. I recruited two more highly talented and enthusiastic Board members and a very efficient Company Secretary and with trepidation faced my first meeting. I’d talked to each trustee beforehand but, nonetheless, it was daunting and humbling to lead such a committed bunch of people. It went well with our CEO, Lisa Davis, taking a major part in ably briefing me and keeping me informed.
Our priorities for 2023-24
We then had a ‘Strategy Day’ and identified three areas of focus for 2023–24: raising funds, recruiting volunteers and enhancing our brand – if you can help, please get in touch!. We need all three to enable us to continue serving, advising and advocating for the citizens of Epsom and Ewell.
I have since then attended meetings to consider partnerships with other CA offices in Surrey, chaired a meeting of all the Surrey Chairs and spent time getting to know the trustee team, staff and volunteers.
It is a great privilege to be chair of CAEE and I look forward to continuing to learn and to helping take the charity ‘onward and upward’ as we develop into the future.