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Becoming a Volunteer Trustee

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Being a trustee at Gaia House involves work but it never feels like a chore. What makes it so rewarding is that the trustees, staff and coordinators are committed to expressing the values of Gaia House through its governance and day-to-day running as much as in its retreat programme. This means that meetings and decision-making are conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and generosity. I sometimes feel that my work as a trustee is as much a part of my practice as time spent in the meditation hall!”

Kate Malleson, Chair of Trustees

What is a trustee?
Trustees are volunteers with statutory and other duties, who are ultimately responsible for the organisation of a charity. The Charity Commission offers plenty of guidance on being a trustee.

What does being a trustee at Gaia House involve?
Our Volunteer Trustees are a valued and critical part of the Gaia House sangha and community, playing a pivotal role in the strategic direction of Gaia House. They are a dynamic and committed group who share an understanding and appreciation of the importance of what Gaia House offers.

Meet our current Board of Trustees

We welcome applications from all people of every age, ethnicity, cultural heritage and religious background, socio-economic group, ability, sexual orientation and gender identity. Ideally you will have a regular meditation practice and experience of coming on retreat at Gaia House. This is not essential however, and we can arrange for you to attend a retreat during the application process.

If you are interested in applying to contribute as a Trustee, please review the information below, which lays out what is expected of our trustees. To request an application pack or if you have any questions, please email our HR Manager, Sarah Abdy, on admin@nullgaiahouse.co.uk

It’s a real privilege sitting on the Gaia House Trust Board. As well as working with a committed group of people, it’s an opportunity to contribute to the promotion of happiness and wellbeing of others by supporting the work of Gaia House. As a Board, we meet regularly to oversee the activities of the organisation and work with Directors and managers to plan for its future. We’re well supported and provided with all the information we need. I would recommend this rewarding role to anyone who has the time and experience to offer.

Walter Young


About the role

Expectations
Gaia House Trust expects that trustees will:

  • Be able to commit the necessary time and effort to the organisation.
  • Attend the quarterly Board of Trustees meeting and participate in Advisory Groups and other committees as appropriate (this equates to an overall time commitment of approx. 12-15 days per year). Attendance may be facilitated using a range of media, including video conferencing.
  • Attend in person at least three out of four of the Trust Meetings held within a year.
  • Have a commitment to Dharma practice in the Buddhist tradition. A full Trustee will have the opportunity to attend up to 7 nights’ retreat per year as part of their continuing development and training as a Trustee.
  • Uphold a commitment to Gaia House’s ethical framework and undertake their role in a way that is in keeping with The Five Precepts as outlined in the Gaia House Code of Conduct.

Trustee responsibilities

  • To ensure that the organisation complies with its Memorandum and Articles of Association, charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations.
  • To ensure that the organisation pursues its objects as defined in its governing document.
  • To ensure that the organisation applies its resources exclusively in pursuance of its objects (i.e. the charity must not spend money on activities which are not included in its own objects, no matter how worthwhile or charitable those activities are).
  • To contribute actively to the Board of Trustees’ role in giving firm strategic direction to the organisation, setting overall policy, defining goals, and setting targets and evaluating performance against agreed targets.
  • To contribute to the decision-making processes of the Trust in a way that is solely in the best interest of Gaia House and its stakeholders.
  • To safeguard the reputation and values of the organisation.
  • To ensure the effective and efficient administration of the organisation.
  • To ensure the financial stability of the organisation.
  • To protect and manage the property and assets of the charity and to ensure the proper investment of the charity’s funds.
  • To uphold and support the Gaia House Code of Conduct and to act in accordance with the Principles set out in the NCVO’s Good Governance Guide.
  • To appoint senior staff and monitor their performance.
  • In addition to the above statutory duties, each trustee should use any specific skills, knowledge or experience they have to help the Board of Trustees reach sound decisions.
  • This may involve scrutinising board papers, leading discussions/working groups, focusing on key issues, providing advice and guidance on new initiatives, attending advisory groups or sub-committees, or advising on issues in which the trustee has special expertise.
  • To understand and support Nolan’s seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
  • To understand and accept the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship.
  • To demonstrate willingness to take lead responsibility in specific areas of Trust work e.g. chairing an Advisory Group or working party.

Person specification

  • Experience of silent meditation retreats in the Buddhist tradition preferably at Gaia House, or if not, a commitment to attend a retreat at Gaia House during the application process.
  • To have a commitment to Dharma practice that extends to offering service to Gaia House.
  • To be able to act in a way that is solely in the best interests of Gaia House irrespective of any relationship with other stakeholders.
  • To have experience of taking lead responsibility when working with others.
  • To be able to adopt a flexible approach in utilizing your own skills and experience to respond to Gaia House needs.
  • To be able to assertively and confidently contribute your own ideas to discussions on a wide range of issues.
  • To be able to absorb and analyse information presented on a range of subjects.
  • To have an ability to work effectively and harmoniously with other Trustees, and staff as a member of the Gaia House team.
  • Ability to assess your own strengths and weaknesses against the Trust Responsibilities outlined above and recognize where learning and development is needed.
  • To be willing to undertake any necessary training to meet identified learning needs.

Specialist experience and qualifications
Applications are especially welcomed from people with specific experience in any of the areas below. You can provide details of your experience in these areas on your application form:

  • Buildings – Experience of building and construction, building regulations, listed building consent.
  • Fundraising – Experience working with fundraisers, developing a fundraising strategy, applications for funding.
  • HR – Working within the Human Resources environment, awareness of Employment Law and best practice.
  • Diversity – Experience of developing a diversity strategy within the context of an organisation both in respect of staffing but also from a retreatant diversity perspective.
  • Data Protection – Experience and understanding of the implementation and monitoring of compliant data protection procedures.
  • Communications and Marketing – Working within the publicity sector, experience of internal and external communications including social media.