Trustees Week: 2-6th November 2020
Trustees Week is an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.
Sam and Tracy are Trustees at the Charity BASIS and have very kindly shared their story with us:
Before becoming a trustee for BASIS I had completed a degree in Special Education Studies. I then applied this knowledge and experience working in a local Primary school as a learning support assistant; working with children who had additional learning needs, adapting teaching methods and resources to improve their learning outcomes.
After four years of working my sight began to deteriorate rapidly and unfortunately due to surgery I had to take redundancy. This was a huge blow to my confidence, self esteem and mental well-being.
I was supported by BASIS when my sight was permanently affected. I wanted to get involved more with the charity and help shape the services which we provide to other people experiencing sight loss and the opportunity arose for me to become a trustee. I began on the trustee board as a co-opted member providing feedback to the trustee board of the Braille project which had been running for some time. It was a great experience working with the trustee board to help shape and progress the project further. I’m now the Secretary of the board and really enjoy taking minutes of our meetings and adapting the minutes, agendas and finance updates to suit the requirements of our trustee board and members. We use large print, braille and send out the information via email for our Blind and sight impaired trustees and members to access talking software that reads the documents. I’ve helped to increase access to sport for BASIS members, in particular running with a sighted guide in our area and supported BASIS to ensure that the rights and needs of the blind and partially sighted community are considered by local businesses, employers, emergency services and in particular the local council who are currently in the process of redeveloping the town centre; we have been liaising with them to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all, raising concerns over the use of shared space and construction disruption to the pedestrianised areas.
Being a trustee for BASIS has been such an important part of my mental recovery after losing my sight. I am able to work as part of a team to help shape the services which are provided by the charity, ultimately ensuring that support is available to the people who need it. My confidence, self esteem and mental wellness has grown since becoming a trustee and I’m so very grateful for the opportunity to give back to a charity who support so many people and have made me feel worthy again.
I’m Tracy Whitt, Vice Chair at the Blind and Sight Impaired Society (BASIS). I began my career at Guide Dogs in 1986, progressing to Deputy Kennel Manager. After several years in this position I qualified as a Guide Dog Trainer. I moved to Basildon in 1992 and have lived in the area ever since. I married Ron who is blind in 2004 and became involved with BASIS through its tennis group in 2011. Originally I was co-opted onto the Committee of BASIS as Ron’s P.A. to help him with fundraising and was later voted in as Chair, and more recently, Vice Chair. Being part of the board of trustees at BASIS has been an incredibly worthwhile role, I have really felt that my contributions have helped to shape the charity and all the great work it delivers supporting the visually impaired in South Essex. Most notably, I secured National Lottery funding for the charity three years ago enabling the charity to move from being run largely by volunteers to having full time members of staff. This has seen the charity grow and be able to reach out to over 1000 people.