NAC Interview With Ruthe Isden

Ruthe Isden TrusteeRuthe Isden, newest member of the Board of Trustees, introduces herself to the beneficiary community

Can you tell us something about yourself?

I’ve worked in public policy and influencing for nearly twenty years now, and I’ve spent the last ten with the charity Age UK working on health, social care, human rights and equalities issues in later life. Apart from that, I live in London with my husband and five-year-old daughter. I’m a bit of a geek for social research into political trends in my spare time as well as outdoor bootcamp – the muddier the better!

What attracted you to being a trustee of the Thalidomide Trust?

After a decade in charity work I was really interested in using that experience to become a charity trustee. And when I saw this role advertised it seemed like a perfect fit. It’s well understood we live in an ageing society with a growing older population. But what I think is less well understood is how diverse people’s experiences of ageing really are.

I’m particularly passionate about making sure policy and services understand and respond to diversity so everyone can make the most of later life. Joining the Trust seemed like a brilliant opportunity to work alongside a group embarking on their ageing journey.

What have you enjoyed so far about the role?

Joining the Trust has been a great experience. I’ve had a wonderfully warm welcome from all the staff, fellow trustees and members of the NAC. Everyone has been very generous with their time and expertise, and I’ve learned so much already.

I’ve also really enjoyed getting involved in the conversations about the next five years and what the Trust needs and wants to achieve.

Have there been any challenges so far in being a trustee?

So far it’s been pretty plain sailing, but I can see there will be challenges ahead. Over the next few years we need to prepare for the fact that the beneficiary community is getting older, and put in place the right plans to ensure everyone has the best possible practical and financial support heading into later life.

Has anything been a surprise to you about the Trust and/or the beneficiary community?

When I applied to join the Trust I was versed in the history of thalidomide and the consequences for beneficiaries, but I knew nothing about the legal and financial settlements. Their size and scope did come as a surprise, and I think a real testament to the amazing work of all the beneficiaries, staff and trustees that have so consistently and successfully advocated on behalf of the community.


Read more from the NAC in the full Winter 2022 Newsletter (PDF)