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Trustee, Fiona Crispin-Jennings, talks about our unique approach to person-centred care

How long have you been a trustee for Field Lane?

I have been a trustee with Field Lane for four years. I sit on the quality and development committee.

Why did you choose Field Lane?

I feel that Field Lane chose me. I had not considered becoming a voluntary board member but knew a previous trustee who told me the charity was seeking a trustee with housing and social care experience and suggested that I apply. I work in the social housing sector and, like many of my peers, hadn’t considered how I could use my skills and experience in a voluntary capacity. Many trustees have a finance or civil service background and I now actively encourage others who have senior operational roles in the not-for-profit sector to consider a voluntary trustee role, which I’ve found so rewarding.

What do you wish others knew?

The approach to person-centred care is outstanding. Lots of organisations talk about being ‘person-centred’, but at Field Lane it is truly meaningful. It’s a bit like a stick of rock – you see and experience the same approach and set of values throughout the organisation, at every level of engagement. It sounds easy, but it's difficult to make tangible and for it to happen so consistently. As trustees we are given direct insight into the lives of the charity’s clients, which is quite unusual but gives us a strong connection. The dedication and professionalism of the whole staff team really stands out.

In my job, I talk to many families who would benefit from having access to places like Field Lane. It has such a unique ethos and culture. The challenge is in how we can grow sustainably, so we can reach out to more people who need our services but without losing sight of what makes Field Lane so special. How can we move from being a small, local organisation to a bigger one with a wider geographical footprint?

Each generation of trustees has tried to maintain that link with our history – to help those most in need to live independently. It’s a brave charity, making hard decisions to ensure it follows its main purpose, with each new project becoming part of the Field Lane family.

What are the key challenges facing the social care sector and Field Lane specifically?

Over the past five years, the issues facing people in our sector have become more widely reported. Celebrities, such as Katie Price have documented their own family journeys, which has helped bring the sector to the fore. This has been good for us and brought the issues to the attention of more people. The challenge will be to keep up this profile and maintain a decent level of funding. In such a volatile world, it’s so important that people don’t lose sight of other people’s needs and vulnerabilities. I want people to continue to see the value in caring and supporting people to live as independently as possible.

Other charities might be bigger and ‘sexier’ than Field Lane, but we must keep putting ourselves in the arena – to keep up our energy levels. We need to be seen as a leader in the care sector, so we can influence other providers to take a similar approach in providing social care services.


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