Every 3 months, a member of the Council of Management writes a blog for the Epilepsy Action website. These blogs provide a topical insight into the work of the Council, who the Council members are and what they’re doing. The first blog is written by Ian Walker, the newly elected chair of the council.
3 August 2016, by Ian Walker, chair of council
Welcome to this, the first quarterly council blog, which aims to inform you about what the Council of Management does and how it does it. To explain right at the beginning, the Council of Management (or Council for short) is the governing body of the charity. As such, Council members are both trustees of the charity and company directors with all the duties and responsibilities that this brings.
July is a month of change and the start of new challenges in Council. Firstly we welcome any new people elected at the annual general meeting in June. Council also elects its officers – the chair, vice-chair and honorary treasurer of the association for the coming year. I am honoured to have been entrusted with the role of chair of council by my colleagues for the coming year. Our July Council meeting also appoints members to the committees of council. These committees are where Council members look in detail at specific issues such as financial performance, how well the charity is meeting its strategic objectives, its research activities and its corporate governance. The committees report back to the Council with recommendations and directions for its debates and decision making.
Challenges are constantly present in one form or another. One of the current challenges faced by Council is to form a viable five-year strategic plan in the face of some distinct unknowns including the long term effects of the recent EU Referendum, not to mention the changes in regulatory and legal duties faced by the Council as trustees of the charity.
Challenge is a good thing. Through meeting the challenges we face, together, Council delivers the strategic direction of the charity, guided as we are by our own collective expertise and experience coupled with the guidance we seek from stakeholders in the association at various times.
Council consists of up to 18 trustees (16 elected by Epilepsy Actions members and up to two co-opted by Council) who bring a wide range of skills, experience and interests to the table. Decisions are made by majority vote. One of my most important duties within Council meetings, as chair, is to ensure that everyone who wishes to contribute to the debates and discussions is heard. This ensures that in making our decisions everyone's point of view has been considered. An average Council meeting will last for between four and five hours, depending upon the agenda.
Our interest in epilepsy – whatever that interest might be – is the thing that brings all Council members together to derive the best strategy for the Association and to ensure that its business is properly conducted. This is one of our vital public duties as trustees. As volunteers, we spend in the region of between 20 and 40 days per year on Council business, be this attending meetings or events or in preparing for them. In addition, some trustees also carry out other voluntary roles for Epilepsy Action, such as being accredited volunteers.