Tina joined Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust in July 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having been in post as the Chief Executive for 1.5 years, during what has been a difficult and unprecedented period, she share her views and thinking on funding, the strategic direction of the Trust and why she values being a member of WM Funders Network.
- Why did you join Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust?
The Trust is perfect for me as I enjoy seeing the direct impact of a charity at a local level. It is extremely rewarding to get to know a place so well, and to engage with others who do so much for the people of Sutton Coldfield. I was also impressed by the forward thinking reputation of the Trustees and Staff.
- What is your background?
My professional background includes over 35 years of voluntary sector leadership with a focus on health and social care. My previous role was Chief Executive of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice where I also chaired the End of Life Care Planning Group for Birmingham & Solihull. This involved bringing partners from many sectors together to plan and deliver care together.
My personal background is one of mixed Punjabi/English ethnicity. My grandparents emigrated from the Punjab in the 1930s when my father was 5 years old. They were influential in supporting the local community to establish the Gurdwara in Smethwick over 60 years ago.
I would like to think that this experience brings a range of benefits to Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, from strategic planning and stakeholder engagement to prioritising equality, diversity and inclusion.
- What do you see as the independent endowed Trust’s role at a local level?
It is important to listen to people and to be dynamic in the grant application process. By that I mean working with grant applicants to understand what they want to achieve for their beneficiaries. Funders have the opportunity to support place-based working and collaboration across sectors to achieve more through groups and individuals working together. I have already seen this working well in the way hospices work with general practices, community nurses, care homes and local citizen-led groups. This type of localised, integrated working makes things so much easier for people already going through extremely difficult times. It also removes duplication and makes the most of scarce resources.
What are your priorities in developing the Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust?
We have become much more proactive as an organisation, particularly throughout the pandemic, in responding to urgent needs. In order to inform our longer-term strategic direction, University of Birmingham is conducting a Social Needs Review on our behalf in order to discover hidden or unmet need.
- What do you see as the key challenges and opportunities?
The pandemic has greatly highlighted health and social care inequities. It has been a devastating year for many people as well as being a year of community action and cohesion. We want to play a more proactive part in advancing equality, diversity, and inclusion. We also want to communicate the Social Needs Review findings as widely as possible across Sutton Coldfield, as we anticipate the demand will require collaboration and shared responsibilities across statutory, voluntary, and other sectors.
- What are you seeing in your locality as the key social issues to address in your role as a funder?
Survival, let alone sustainability, is a challenge for many organisations we have supported, and is something that funders such as ourselves must prioritise, so that we can be part of the solution. There are many priorities locally, including the mental health of school children; loneliness and social isolation; the fact that 30% of Sutton Coldfield’s residents are over 75; insufficient transport for people with physical and learning disabilities (some are missing out on important appointments due to transport access issues). I expect the Social Needs Review will identify these as the tip of the iceberg.
We have engaged local people and key stakeholders in the Social Needs Review, which is likely to bring both hidden and obvious needs to the surface. We aim to hold dissemination events in March and April.
- Why continue to be a member of the WMFN? What do you see as the value and benefit of the WMFN?
There are opportunities for WM Funders to collaborate around issues.
As grant makers, we are in a privileged position of having an overview of need based upon grant applications, so there is an opportunity to influence across a wider network of sectors and stakeholders on local issues.
There is a growing movement of funders taking a more proactive and strategic approach. By that, I mean researching, setting (and even commissioning) priorities for funding rather than waiting for applications. Today both approaches are valid. WMFN is a valuable learning community that has the opportunity to share knowledge as a sector and broaden mind-sets around funding models and approaches. This is necessary for the transformation required in the grant-making sector that will add greater value and benefit for today’s issues as well as inform better plans for the future.