Easy-read Good Trustee Guide to support people with learning disabilities on charities’ trustee boards

A new easy-read guide to trusteeship published today will help people with learning disabilities to become charity trustees. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has translated its best-selling Good Trustee Guide into easy-read format in order to provide information about a trustee's role and best practice guidance to people with learning disabilities.

By making the information contained in the Good Trustee Guide accessible, NCVO hopes to help charities improve the diversity of their governance structure and increase the effectiveness of their trustee board. Increasing board diversity is a key recommendation of the new draft Charity Governance Code.

The easy-read version is divided into four booklets. It is intended to help people with learning disabilities already serving on a charity’s trustee board, as well as those wishing to become a trustee, better understand their legal duties.

NCVO commissioned The Advocacy Project[1] to carry out the translation of the Good Trustee Guide into easy read. The process involved significant input from a panel of people with learning disabilities.

The booklets are expected to be of particular interest to learning disability charities who want to enable more people with learning disabilities to sit on their trustee boards as an effective way of making sure their services are user-led and their governance structures better reflect their beneficiaries.

The Good Trustee Guide has been broken into four sections for the translation, and the booklets can be downloaded free of charge from the NCVO website. The booklets are titled:

  1. What is a charity
  2. What is a charity trustee
  3. What trustees must do
  4. How trustees look after the charity

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:

People with learning disabilities wishing to serve on a trustee board face unique challenges before and after recruitment. We hope that the publication of the easy-read Good Trustee Guide will present a good step forward for them by making important information about the duties of trustees accessible.

By attracting more people with learning disabilities to become trustees, charities working in this area can make sure they have the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience on their boards so they can better meet the needs of their beneficiaries.

Judith Davey, chief executive of The Advocacy Project, said:

As an organisation with a keen focus on good governance and a board that reflects our beneficiaries, we were thrilled to be commissioned to produce the guide. Our staff (including some with learning disabilities) worked closely with a panel of “experts by experience” who were an integral part of our quality assurance.

Matthew Smith, trustee of Thera Trust, said:

I like the guide because it has clear pictures and words that are well spaced out and there is no jargon. The guide should help lots of people understand about being a trustee and as a person with a learning disability myself, I hope it will get others with a learning disability interested in these leadership roles.

Read more in our blog post about what working on the easy-read Trustee Guide taught us about making trusteeship more accessable.

[1] The Advocacy Project ensures that people have meaningful choice over what happens in their lives. Working with children, young people, adults and older people, some 40% of The Advocacy Project staff have ‘lived experience’ of learning disabilities, mental health conditions, and the challenges of age. The Advocacy Project ensures that the most vulnerable people in London have meaningful choice and control over what happens in their lives, particularly older people and those with learning disabilities, dementia and mental health issues. With a long tradition of working with adults and older people, we have now extended our scope and are undertaking invaluable work with children and young people. Find out more about The Advocacy Project at www.advocacyproject.org.uk and @TapAdvocacy.

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