NAC Stories: Observing An NAC Meeting

Helen Shore from the Thalidomide Trust's NACHelen Shore, NAC member, talks about the benefits of requesting an NAC meeting observation place

Since Autumn 2019, the NAC have been offering two ‘observation’ places at each NAC meeting. These are open to anyone who has not previously been on the NAC, but may be keen to stand for election, and give the observer a first-hand opportunity to experience the NAC at work.

Helen describes her experience.

How Do I Apply for An Observation Place?

Are you interested in taking up an observation place at the next NAC meeting in central London on Thursday 25 November?

Contact the NAC by email or phone the Trust office on 01480 474074 to find out more.

Why Did You Decide to Observe an NAC Meeting?

I heard about the observation places around the time I stood for election and was not elected into the NAC. It was suggested to me by another NAC member as they hoped I would consider standing again; they said that new people and perspectives were always welcome on the NAC.

They said that observing an NAC meeting, may change my mind – I would have the opportunity to see all the things that were going on behind the scenes that were helping our beneficiary community and I may feel that I could contribute to some of these.

After some thought and uncertainty, (I had stood for election three times and I felt maybe I wasn’t the candidate the beneficiary community were looking for), I decided that it certainly couldn’t hurt and better decisions are made when you have all the information. I therefore applied to observe the May NAC meeting.

What Was Your Experience of the Meeting Itself?

On the day, I was welcomed and included. I felt I gained a huge insight into the massive volume of work and commitment of staff, trustees and NAC members. That, along with the volume of documents I received to prepare for the observation, really cemented what an excellent job was being done. I decided then that I would stand again if the opportunity arose.

What Could Have Been Better About Attending?

It would have been helpful to receive the meeting documents a little more in advance – they were time-consuming to read – I needed to do this thoroughly as a lot of unfamiliar information was presented in a couple of hours.

What Did You Learn From Attending the Meeting As An Observer?

The experience helped me formulate my election manifesto when I stood again. I could see exactly what the Health & Wellbeing Committee were doing – this was the area that was my strength. We all need to know what a huge job is being done to help our community. The NAC meeting was an eye opener to me as I had not been involved with any of the inner workings of the Thalidomide Trust before. I would say to other people who might think of applying for an observation place – absolutely do it!

I am truly grateful to have observed. In the next few months Karl sadly passed away – I was brought on to the NAC as the next highest polled candidate. The observation place meant I felt that I had a tiny starting point and a feel for the workings of the NAC – very important when you want to get ‘stuck in’ and contribute!


Read more from the NAC in the full Autumn 2021 Newsletter (PDF)

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