Established in 1948, Caxton Youth is a local charity working to advance the personal development of young people with multiple disabilities living in the City of Westminster. They tackle disadvantages including prejudice, exclusion, lack of employment or workplace skills, poor social skills, and high dependence. Their four main programmes focus on communication, independence, opportunities, and health and personal care.
With a change of Chairperson on the horizon, Caxton Youth Organisation decided it was a good time review board policy and practice, implement improvement strategies and strengthen their management committee. As a small charity with an income under £150,000, only 3 full-time members of staff and 3 trustees, the board was keen to draw on the advice and guidance of the Cranfield Trust to improve their governance and sustainability.
How we helped
From early conversations with Caxton Youth Organisation's trustee board and CEO, it was agreed that that having a Board and Management Committee improvement programme in place was crucial. Volunteer consultant, Stephen Cowburn, was on hand to mentor and guide CEO, Rachel Akehurst, every step of the way. With a strong background in line-management and developing individuals and teams in the commercial sector, Stephen worked with Rachel to make sure every aspect of the charity's governance and leadership were explored. Once areas for improvement were identified, a plan of action was put in place, which Rachel, her team, and trustees was able to put into practice.
The charity's young service users are already benefitting from a new approach to meetings, as CEO, Rachel Akehurst explains, "Previously, Young People's Representatives came along to Board Meetings, which were referred to as Management Committee meetings prior to this project, where they had to sit through an agenda that wasn't of much interest to them. They now attend Operational Meetings instead, which didn't exist prior to the project, where every agenda item directly effects them. It's a much more effective way of working, and a far better use of everyone's time."
Impact and Outcomes
Since completing the project trustees are clearer about their individual roles, board meetings are more focused on strategic matters, rather than replicating operational meetings and new systems and procedures bring have increased confidence when making funding applications.
"The project achieved more than it originally set out to, including a rewrite of the organisation's governing document. Stephen supported us to formally recruit two new trustees, review board meetings and create an agenda that encourages us to think strategically rather than operationally. We now have improved leadership, improved structures and a more strategically-focused Board of Trustees. Caxton Youth Organisation is better prepared for the future as a result of the project with The Cranfield Trust." Rachel Akehust, CEO
Caxton Youth Organisation now feels stronger and more prepared to take advantage of opportunities and deal with the everyday, and strategic challenges they may face.