As we continue to put a focus on the invaluable work of voluntary Trustees Carole Maccartney, Chair for MS Therapy Centre Lothian, shared some of her experiences as a Trustee with us.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the organisation where you volunteer as a Trustee?
My name is Carole Macartney and I volunteer as a Trustee in the role of Chair for the MS Therapy Centre Lothian. MS Therapy Centre Lothian was established about 35 years ago and was originally set up to support people living with MS. Over the years we’ve developed our offering and now provide a range of services, advice and support to people with a variety of long-term health conditions – empowering them to self-manage their decisions and lives. And we support people living across Lothian, down into the Borders and across the water in Fife.
What inspired you to get involved with the MS Therapy Centre Lothian?
I was diagnosed with MS in 1993 and started attending the Centre as a service user in 2005. I could therefore really understand the benefits that attending the Centre offered and felt that volunteering as a Trustee was something I could contribute. I’m very keen on self-management and taking control of my life and not feeling defined by my condition and wanted to support other people to do the same. I have a background in law and spent a number of years working in the NHS in an HR capacity so I also had some specific skills and experience to offer.
Can you tell us some of the highlights during your time as a Trustee for MS Therapy Lothian?
I think the way that the charity has evolved and developed is a real highlight for me. Back when I started attending as a service user, I was very much aware the Centre was a small-scale charity that relied on fundraising from events like jumble sales, people doing sponsored activities and selling their arts and crafts. When I see how far we’ve come and that now we’re able to ‘punch above our weight’ in terms of what we deliver and the support we offer – I am proud to have contributed to that change in various Trustee roles off and on over the last 11 years. The Staff and Board of the Centre help to make such a difference in peoples’ lives, supporting them in the bad times and offering a welcoming community space for people to come together. We have also survived the COVID storm and been there for our service users when they needed us most, setting up online services, making sure there was someone to talk to at the other end of a phone and re-opening when restrictions permitted with a COVID-safe model of services and support.
What would you say to someone who was considering volunteering as a Trustee?
Being a Trustee is an opportunity like no other. You get the chance to meet so many different people, make great contacts, learn new skills and if you’re willing to get your sleeves up and get stuck in you can really make a significant difference to the organisation you volunteer for and the people they support. I would also say that all charities need committed, enthusiastic and passionate Trustees. From young people just starting out, to older people with a wider experience base, to those with lived experiences of the support offered – a diversity of people helps to bring a good balance to a charity’s Board. Since the start of lockdown we’ve appointed 3 new Trustees one with lived experience, one who’s originally from Spain and another who got involved through the Furlonteer programme – connecting people on furlough with remote volunteer opportunities – and I look forward to continuing working with them, and the rest of the board, as we continue to support and develop the MS Therapy Centre Lothian.