What's Involved In Serving On The NAC
The Thalidomide Trust's National Advisory Council (NAC) provide ongoing advice to the staff and trustees on a wide range of issues.
Their aim is to help ensure that everything the Trust does is in the best interests of its' beneficiaries.
Here, some of our NAC members let us in on their experiences of what's involved, the commitment required and what they get out of it.
A flavour of the projects and committees that the NAC members are involved in
What commitments are required?
An NAC member has to:
- attend two full NAC meetings a year (in May and November) and an annual Awayday
- dial into monthly conference calls
- optionally join either the Finance Team or the Health & Wellbeing Team that attends the Trust’s Finance and Health & Wellbeing Committee meetings.
The NAC's role is vitally important in representing the beneficiaries to the trustees and there are opportunities to get involved in the activities of the NAC such as events, the NAC Newsletter and, from time to time, working groups to look at various issues.
To be a NAC member is an opportunity to make a difference for the beneficiary community, particularly with health and wellbeing issues.
The terms last for four years.
Why stand for the NAC?
"....I wanted to use my skills to enhance the committee's range of skills in the particular area of emotional support for beneficiaries"
"I feel quite a strong bond with other disabled people, and particularly thalidomide affected people because we've got so much common history, and we face so many similar challenges in our lives......also getting to find out more about the Trust initiatives that were happening, which I thought were so positive that it made me interested in getting more involved. The obvious way to do that was by being on the NAC."
What has been the most rewarding experience of being a NAC member so far?
"....getting to know another NAC members and their range of abilities and qualities"
"......getting a better understanding of what people in our thalidomide community have achieved, and what challenges they face today"
What are some of the most challenging aspects of being a NAC member?
"It has been challenging to basically “take it all in”! It takes a while to get the grasp of the working guidelines, understand the different aspects of the work the NAC does, both ongoing and new work planned for the future."
"The complexity of some issues can be challenging......This is because we have to agree the NAC position on some difficult issues, and there is such wide variation in the life circumstances across our 460 or so beneficiaries. For example we recently discussed Safeguarding policy, and we discussed Major Advances policy. You really have to concentrate hard to get your head around the implications of these things for people with all sorts of very different life circumstances."
What have been the main learning points?
"........there is a considerable workload. My learning has been around the range of work from meetings, calls, requests to be part of research steering groups, being interviewed/videoed etc. It would have been useful to have a quick summary of current ongoing work, and who was involved in what, so that I could get up to speed more quickly."
"There has been a lot to learn! There is so much history to many of the issues we are dealing with.......I've learned not to make judgements too quickly, but instead ask questions before making my mind up. Even if something appears to be wrong, it is best to first need to ask how it came about. Very often you end up realising that although it seemed illogical at first glance, there were solid reasons for it being that way. These reasons often relate to the wide variety of life circumstances across our beneficiary community. Something that may make no sense to me, might be just right for another beneficiary."
Advice for beneficiaries wishing to stand for NAC roles
Ask the Trust if they can put you in touch with a current NAC member so that you can find out what's involved in detail, before you apply.
Use support from the NAC members to help prepare your manifesto, in particular the candidate statement.
Think carefully about what your skills and experiences are how these can be used to represent the interests of the beneficiary community.
Interested in applying to stand for the NAC?
If our members' experiences have inspired you to apply to stand for the NAC then visit our page How To Join The NAC on the link below to find out more and get in touch with the Trust to get started.