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Kate Andrews, trustee, pleas for us to remember the value of our care sector long after lockdown

Pictured: Kate meeting with Furniture Box donors, Monty and Dan at Field Lane's reception in the House of Lords.

Why choose Field Lane (FL)?

I am lawyer by training and had been working at a corporate level for Royal Mail. In 2013 I decided to leave full-time employment. I wanted to create time for myself and have the opportunity to do something outside of the corporate world that was both worthwhile and fulfilling. I took a long time to research what that might be; I wanted to be sure that whatever non-executive or trustee role I went into was the right fit for me.

My parents both passed away in 2012, having spent the last months of their lives in a care home, dealing with dementia. When I was looking for a new role Field Lane was running a couple of projects for older people, which I was attracted by, having recently seen it from the viewpoint of a ‘service user’ with my elderly parents. However, by the time I had my trustee interview Field Lane had already moved away from offering services to older people to focus on adults with learning disabilities. I was still very attracted to the charity’s ethos and its work in a world I had no previous knowledge of. It being a Christian based charity was also very important to me.

What surprised you most?

The high quality of the people at Field Lane at both an operational and management level was an eye opener for me. I hadn’t really known what to expect and thought that I was bringing my own wisdom and knowledge to bear. But I learned so much more from the people working at Field Lane and the clients they were caring for. It certainly wasn’t a top-down experience. Being a Field Lane trustee is a privilege and has given me a different perspective on life, for which I am very grateful.

What do you wish others knew?

The work of Field Lane has a real impact on people’s lives. The personal connections made really are at the heart of everything. The commitment and dedication of the staff – both carers and management team – are second to none. Everyone is focused on achieving the charity’s mission to enable our clients to lead independent and fulfilling lives

What is your hope for the future and impact FL can make on delivering services in the social care sector?

Field Lane has a positive strategy of growth in place. This plan is not about wanting to impress or just make more money, it’s solely about helping more people. By opening another supported living project, we can help another 6 to 8 individuals and their families. As we grow, we must always keep in mind the reason why we are doing it and seek to achieve our ambition in a measured and sustainable way.

The whole experience of last year, and the start of this year, has given us clear proof of why our care sector is so valuable. We have to all hold onto this and remember it when things go back to some sort of normality. When we drive past a car accident, we slow down and drive more carefully. But then five miles later we forget and speed up again. As a society, I dearly hope that we don’t all speed up again and forget.


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