Governance is a topic that is coming to the fore in the Charity sector since the inception of the Charities Regulator in 2014 and the introduction of the Charities Regulator Governance Code earlier this year.

It is fair to say that it can be a challenge to grasp the responsibilities around Governance for most community and voluntary groups. It is also fair to say that there is not much accessible help out there.

Determined to set a culture of Good Governance within the organisation, the Board of Trustees of Sligo Volunteer Centre have been working hard on Governance over the last year, and have embraced the Charities Regulators Governance Code – aiming to become fully compliant in the next few months.

An initiative pioneered by Trustee Kathya O’Neill, earned the organisation the accolade of winning a Good Governance Initiative Award in their category at the recent Good Governance Awards held in the National Concert Hall in Dublin.

Understanding and digesting the important and responsible role of a Trustee through a series of documents and paperwork, can be challenging. Kathya, a Chartered Accountant by profession, decided to arrange a ‘Governance Review Session’ where all Trustee’s would take time out to immerse themselves in what their role meant and to take the time to understand the constitution and how it related to their role. Some online tools like the ‘Charity Trustee Driers Licence’, devised by the Wheel, were used and an informative, interactive session followed.

The result was that Trustees were more engaged, had a greater comprehension of their role and were re-invigorated in their work. Fear is often a word used with regulation – and I suppose the innovation in the approach here was to embrace the fear and realise that knowledge is power. By upskilling the Trustees, they have become more empowered and the ‘fear’ factor is greatly reduced.

Ms. Ciara Herity, Manager of Sligo Volunteer Centre said ‘This is a great reward for all our Trustee’s who give so generously of their time. Governance can be very daunting – I would recommend taking it in small steps and looking for help. There are some good resources online – but a lot more hands on local support is needed to help groups in a practical way. Perhaps in the future more avenues will be resourced locally to allow people get support’.  Ciara also acknowledged that Good Governance is a journey ‘We have been a while getting to this point – many volunteers have given their time as Trustees along the way, who all greatly helped the journey’.

The Good Governance Awards, run by The Carmichael Centre, are in their fourth year and were founded to acknowledge, encourage and promote good governance practice. Other winners on the night were: Solas Cancer Support, The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation, LauraLynn Children’s Hospice and Trocaire.

The current Trustees of Sligo Volunteer Centre are: Mr. Gavin Forkan, Chair; Ms. Kathya O’Neill, Vice Chair & Company Secretary; Ms. Sinead Barrins; Ms. Dorothy Clarke; Mr. Sean Forde; Ms. Mary Hennigan; Ms. Sarah Murphy; Mr. Larry Mullin & Cllr.Donal Gilroy.

For further information and resources on Good Governance see: