For Trustees’ Week 2017, we spoke to Victoria Oakes, who is a trustee for Launchpad, the charity which works to prevent homelessness in Reading. By day, 35-year-old Victoria is a Senior Manager at Microsoft, where she is the Digital Destinations and Storytelling Lead and she brings her marketing, operational and leadership experience to the board at Launchpad. Victoria spoke to RVA’s Herjeet about the challenges and rewards of being a trustee and the importance of choosing a charity which aligns with your core values.
Why did you decide to become a trustee?
It is a cause I really care about and is close to my heart. Having come from a humble background myself, I know the hardship of poverty and the importance of a place to call home and family. There are many faces of homelessness, from rough sleepers to families crammed into temporary, poor quality B&Bs, or individuals relying on a friend’s floor or sofa. They are all without a home of their own. Some people are easy to help, while others are very difficult. Behind every individual there’s a hidden story and Launchpad supports the local community with all of these things.
How do you balance your day job and being a trustee?
If you are committed to the cause then spending evenings at the trustee meetings will energise you. So my advice would be to choose a charity which is deeply aligned with your core values and also one you can truly add value to yourself. Really think about whether you can commit the time to it and take the responsibility seriously, as it is an important role. You will learn lots, you will make lifelong friends, and you will learn from people you may not have worked with in your day-to-day role. You will really feel part of the local community too, which is fulfilling professionally and personally. Launchpad is now like my extended family.
What’s been the best thing about being a trustee so far?
The people, the learning experiences, the feeling of helping such an important cause. Seeing the charity do so well and being part of the community. Using my skills and contacts to be able to help support the charity and also help raise its profile.
What’s the hardest thing been?
Juggling time to accommodate the cause, especially when I had my first child. However, it comes back to choosing something that is truly aligned to your core values and mine are helping others less fortunate and inspiring people to be their best selves. Launchpad is doing this every day and if I can help, then this gives me a sense of purpose.
Would you recommend it from your experience?
Yes, I would strongly recommend sharing your skills and committing to becoming a trustee. I would recommend it for anyone who feels they want to give back and have skills they feel charities could benefit from. It’s so important to give back and you will also gain so much.
If you’ve been inspired by Victoria’s story and would like to find out more about being a trustee, you can get in touch with RVA’s Advice Worker, Herjeet Randhawa.