Briefing IHAG Trustee
1 Introduction to the Role of Trustee
As a Trustee you and your co-trustees ensure sure that IHAG is carrying out the purposes for which IHAG is set up. This means:
• Ensuring the understanding of IHAG’s purposes as set out in its governing document
• Planning what IHAG will do, and what IHAG will achieve
• Being able to explain how all of IHAG’s activities are intended to further or support its purposes
• Acting in IHAG’s best interests
• Managing IHAG’s resources responsibly
Being a Trustee means you must be able to use reasonable care and take appropriate advice when necessary. You should give enough time, thought and energy to your role, for example by preparing for, attending and actively participating in all trustees’ meetings and reviewing IHAG’s Trustee meeting packs.
Trustees meet as an Executive Committee 4 times a year – normally from 6 p.m. In addition there are 3 sub-committees - the Services, the Campaign and Finance & Resources sub-committees. After their probationary period of 6 months, a successful new Trustee chooses which one of these 3 they would like to sit on.
In addition, Start and Finish groups are occasionally set up to deal with specific issues or tasks and there may also be one or two away evenings/days which Trustees are asked to attend.
New Trustees undergo an induction Period for their first 6 months which includes specific training on the role of being a Trustee, a full induction programme, and spending one day at IHAG getting to know the Staff and the work they do.
2 Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG)
IHAG is an independent, local, registered Charity that works, mainly in Ipswich, providing services to single homeless people, by which we mean single people who are either without a home at all or who are at risk of being without a home. We provide money and debt advice, walk-in day advice and housing services.
Each year, we deliver hostel accommodation for 80 people, money and debt advice to about 1,400 individuals and families, and walk-in day advice and support at the Chapman Centre to 1,100 marginalised adults including those who are homeless and rough sleeping.
IHAG’s mission is “To be an agent for change, both in homeless people and in society”.
IHAG employs about 35 staff, supported by about 20 volunteers and has a turnover of just over a £1 million a year.
3 IHAG’s Services
Our housing is called Supported Housing because we provide not just a roof over someone’s head but also the support to help them maintain that accommodation. We manage 55 tenancies in 14 shared properties spread across Ipswich.
The Housing Team is responsible for the whole process from referral/application through to being tenants and then onwards through move-on into independent accommodation.
Our customers are exclusively single homeless people; that is people who do not live with dependents and who are either literally homeless or in accommodation that is temporary, at risk or unsuitable. The main objective of IHAG is to support tenants to develop and acquire the basic skills and experience to maintain themselves in the permanent accommodation that we hope they will move into when they leave IHAG. This is achieved through developing positive relationships and sound support planning.
3.2 Chapman Centre
The Chapman Centre is a relatively new part of IHAG (from 1st March 2014) and provides a walk-in advice service, meaningful activities, advice appointments plus a range of practical support services (e.g. laundry, bathing, food) to marginalised and vulnerable adults.
The main service which the Centre provides is the walk-in Day Advice Service (DAS) where the Advisers offer advice and guidance on a range of issues, including welfare benefits, budgeting, bills, housing and homelessness.
As well as the Day Advice Service, the Centre provides a Make A Change Club where clients attend meaningful activities or one-to-one advice sessions.
The Fern Room is a large training/meeting/activity space upstairs which is fully equipped with Smart Board, projector, tables and seating for 30 and a kitchen area. This is used free of charge by the Chapman Centre but is available for hire by outside bodies. Recently created and refurbished, the aim is to develop this and the rest of the first floor into resource for the sector in Ipswich.
So, all in all, the Chapman Centre is well on its way to being a ‘homelessness hub’ for supporting the marginalised and vulnerable adults of Ipswich.
3.3 Money Advice
IHAG Money Advice Service (IMAS) has been providing professional welfare rights, debt advice and casework service for over 20 years. IMAS primarily works with vulnerable & marginalised adults who are in financial difficulties, claiming benefits or job seeking, struggling on low incomes, homeless, and living in temporary and/or supported accommodation and/or at risk of homelessness. The most effective way for our clients to help themselves is to make sure that services they need are as accessible as possible.
The aims and objectives of the project are to provide free confidential debt counselling and welfare rights services to support clients. Additionally we provide individual and group training in money management skills to our clients.
Fully trained and certified Money Advisers, who are Debt Relief Order Intermediaries, deliver advice and casework directly to our client group. Advice is provided through various channels including face-to-face (at appointments or via our emergency drop in service), telephone and email.
IMAS also promotes and exchanges information on welfare rights and money advice so as to empower individuals and organisations to help themselves and each other to meet the challenges with which they are faced.
3.4 Campaign and Research
IHAG has consistently sought to draw attention to issues affecting single people as well as to provide housing for them. It is a key responsibility for all Staff and in particular the Senior Management Team.
For example, in 1984 we produced "No Home of My Own...", a survey of the housing problems of single people in Ipswich which gained national distribution and which was instrumental in the formulation of IBC's Young Persons' Policy. IHAG was also a founder member of the Furniture Project which assists low income households by providing them with essential furniture at minimum cost.
In recent years, campaigning has taken the form of creating partnerships and joint working forums, advising commissioners, lobbying statutory bodies and generally ensuring that the voice of all single people, not just our own clients is heard.
IHAG's Director was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2018 Birthday Honours List for his work with IHAG and his contribution to homeless adults. In addition, for six years, he was a Board Member of Homeless Link, the national umbrella body for organisations working with single homeless people. Locally, he chairs the Steering Group of the Ipswich Locality Homelessness Partnership (ILHP) and the Framework Forum.
The Money Advice Services Manager is a Board member of Advice UK, the national umbrella group for independent money advice services.
4 What is a Management Committee Member?
IHAG is a Charitable Limited Company which means that its activities are legislated for under various Acts of Parliament relating to Company and Charity Law, not least the Charities Act 2006, and it is regulated by the Charity Commission. The way IHAG must conduct its affairs is governed by its Articles and Memorandum of Association which defines its governance structure.
Like most Charities, the legal responsibility for compliance is delegated to a group of Trustees. All Trustees are automatically members of the Executive Committee of IHAG and Directors of IHAG Ltd. You may see the Trustees referred to in different places as Exec Members, The Exec, Committee Members, The Committee etc, but they are all the same group of people.
IHAG has a membership of about 15 people at present, and it is this group that formally elects the Trustees at the AGM.
For more details of the legal responsibilities of Charity Trustees and Directors of Charitable Limited Companies, please follow these links or paste them into your browser:
http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/supportingcharities/ogs/poglist.asp (more legalistic and in depth)
Please note that you cannot be a Director if you are under 18 years of age, or if you are disqualified from acting under the provisions of Section 72 of the Charities Act 1993 because of bankruptcy or conviction for an offence of dishonesty or deception.
Strict rules covering conflict of interest also operate; in particular, please note that a Trustee of a Charity when on charity business, at meetings etc, is legally obliged to only represent the interests of that Charity and of no other organisation. Thus employees of funders or Local Authorities who have direct contact with a Charity in their non Trustee life will need to consider carefully what likely conflicts of interests and loyalties might arise.
In our opinion, IHAG is a very special organisation that has managed to survive for over 40 years by being true to its original values. It delivers services that it believes in and we have been known to turn down contracts that challenge our ethos.
Whilst informal and passionate, IHAG is thoroughly professional, staunchly independent and has the interests of single homeless people at the centre of its operations.
IHAG takes a pride in being different, in punching above its weight and in challenging others to deliver.
If you are interested in playing a key part in the governance of this type of organisation, we are very keen to hear from you (by all means get in touch for an informal discussion).
Person Specification for
Trustee of IHAG
1. Core Attributes
• a commitment to single homeless people, and to IHAG
• a willingness to devote the necessary time and effort
• strategic vision
• good, independent judgement
• an ability to think creatively
• a willingness to speak one’s mind
• an ability to work effectively as a member of a team
• an understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities, and liabilities of trusteeship
2. Specific Attributes
• available one evening per month for Exec, Sub-Committee meetings or other trustee events
• available for occasional other meetings and for the annual Away Day (on a Saturday)
• time to read minutes, briefing papers and Trustee meeting packs
• available to attend the Annual General Meeting
Governance, meeting skills, strategic thinking, HR
18 years plus
full details are here:
“The Charity's objects (the Objects) are:
(a) to relieve need, hardship and distress amongst the homeless and amongst those who are living in adverse housing conditions in Ipswich and the surrounding districts
(b) the relief of financial hardship among people living or working in the Borough of Ipswich and its surrounding area; and
(c) to relieve unemployment for the public benefit in such ways as may be thought fit, including assistance to find employment.”