It’s the middle of Trustee Week 2021, and today we’re chatting with Tom Selman. Tom is a Business Manager at Panoramic Associates – a Charity Partner of Jessie May. He touches upon how he can use his business acumen to support and develop the Jessie May service and his extra-special personal connection to the charity.
How did you first hear about Jessie May?
My family have previously benefitted from the Jessie May support. My parents are foster carers, and we had a little girl, Mia, who ended up on the Jessie May service. My Mum and Dad were asked to intervene when her parents essentially disowned her, after having fought for her life at the children’s hospital – beating the machines after they were turned off twice! My Mum and Dad were asked to step in, and give her some love and support as she battled her illness and was expected to die, but the interaction they gave her stimulated both her physical and mental growth and she ended up coming home and staying with us for 4 years! She’s now 8 years old, and has been adopted by a lovely family. She’s always going to have a life limiting illness, but she made a miraculous recovery and she’s even been a bridesmaid twice for two of her adopted siblings!
My parents really couldn’t have done what they did without the support of Jessie May and I’m incredibly thankful for that.
What attracted you to become a Jessie May Trustee?
For me it was definitely the opportunity to try and give something back to the people who supported my Mum and Dad during that time. They have always spoken so highly of the help they received, especially from the Bereavement Team when it looked like Mia was going to be end of life. We’ve done quite a bit of fundraising as a family, but being a Trustee gives me a chance to make an even bigger impact from the “inside”.
The chance to be on the Board of Trustees means that hopefully I can use my business acumen and my local network to help take the Jessie May message further.
How does your professional/personal experience inform your work as a Jessie May Trustee?
When I’m in work, we’re 160 people based in an office in Bristol, and we’re a very charitable company. We have 3 chosen charities that we support each year, but our affiliation with Jessie May is much closer due to my personal connection. I’m able to talk to my peers about my family’s hands on experience and how we’ve benefitted from the service, and it really opens their eyes a little bit more.
From a Jessie May point of view, I think the Board made a conscious decision when it came to recruiting myself and some of the other new Trustees in that we had no experience with the clinical side and gave a little more focus into the business and strategic angle. Post-COVID it’s clear that we need to be a bit more commercially aware, as at the end of the day Jessie May is a “business” and the children and the families need us, so we need to do everything in our powers to make sure that’s possible for many years to come.
As a Bristolian myself, I also think that helps to play a part in my role. Jessie May is a Bristol-based charity, a lot of the children and families we support are Bristol-based, and so I’m able to tap into my network to help to grow the audience across Bristol and the surrounding areas.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role as a Jessie May Trustee?
Jessie May have recently undergone a digital transformation in some of the systems that we use, and Panoramic were able to secure a Project Manager for Jessie May at cost, meaning that we were able to make an immediate impact in saving the charity money. I’d been “chomping at the bit” to contribute and add a bit of value. It’s easier in a way for the clinical Trustees to use their skills and knowledge, but for me this was my first real opportunity to use the tools I have at my disposal.
It was also my first opportunity to be a part of a big decision, to take a vote on something that would make a real difference to Jessie May and contribute on a bold and brave decision.
What would you say to other people who are considering becoming a Jessie May Trustee?
First and foremost I think it gives you more of an appreciation for the work that Jessie May does, and how important the service is to the families that we support, when you’re a real part of Jessie May. The feeling that it gives you to be a part of that is not only truly satisfying, but makes me incredibly proud to be a Jessie May Trustee.
The service that is offered at Jessie May, I think most people would assume it widely available across the UK, and that’s just not the case at all. You don’t understand that until you get involved, and the 190 families that we’ve supported would be in a completely different place without Jessie May.
From a professional point, there is a real chance to learn and develop some of your skills, but also it gives you a fantastic opportunity to use your skills in making life changing decisions. Every person on the Board of Trustees is given a real voice, and you have the opportunity to be heard by everyone – you’re not just a number in a much larger organisation – every Trustee does have the opportunity to make a real difference.
What is Trustee Week 2021?
Trustee Week is an annual event that takes place at the beginning of November to showcase the vital role that Trustees play in our charity. Volunteering their time, and working together to make a real difference to the children and families we support.
Find out about our whole Board of Trustees by heading over to their page on our website: www.jessiemay.org.uk/about-us/board-of-trustees