UK Trustee network: An interview with Mandy Bayliss, Friary Drop-In

Author Fay Phillips-Jones
January 8, 2024

As part of our interview series for our Trustee Network, Frazer Jones Director Fay Phillips-Jones recently spoke to Mandy Bayliss, Senior HR leader, about being a Trustee for the Friary Drop-In.

What is your background and how did it lead you to wanting to become a Trustee?

I have a breadth of senior leader experience, but my career started from my ‘Saturday Job’!  I joined Boots UK when I was still at school and had a varied career with them for over 30 years. From store, operations and HR roles, I had the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills as well as my commercial understanding. I was able to take this experience in to the DFS Group and my roles in HR are where I’ve really felt at home.

I’m passionate about creating a vision, being customer and colleague centric and delivering cultural change.

Having a purpose and being able to give something back has always been important to me and at the end of 2022, I started to look into becoming a Trustee, wondering if I could use my skills and experience to give something back.

What have you personally gained from being a Trustee at the Friary Drop-In?

Considering the type of organisation, I wanted to support took some time. I wanted to connect with the cause and feel that I could make a real difference. A local charity felt the right step for me, and the Friary Drop-In has been part of the local community for 35 years, with a mission to help homeless and vulnerable adults to rebuild their lives. 

The number of people visiting the Friary has increased significantly with the cost of living crisis and every one of them has a story. It’s often a single unexpected event that can lead to a change in their circumstances within a few days.

I’ve learnt so much about people’s different backgrounds, experiences and needs that if the role I play helps just one person, it’s got to be worth it.

What challenges have you faced in the role so far?

The biggest challenge is balancing the finances with the ambition! The Friary Drop-In relies on grants and donations and with more people needing support, we have to make difficult decisions about the level of support we can afford to provide. As a Board, we’d all love to do more but we also have a duty to make sure the Friary Drop-In continues to be available to support those who need it in the future.

What contribution have you had/do you hope to have on the organisation?

With my breadth of experience, commerciality and natural curiosity, I believe I bring some different thinking to the Board. Asking questions not only increases my own understanding but also enables me to propose and consider alternative options and play a role as a credible and valued Trustee. My HR skills is something the Board didn’t have before and I’ve been able to support key decisions and strengthen the practices for the future.

As a small charity, the Friary doesn’t have access to in-house HR expertise so I’m also able to provide practical guidance and add value beyond the governance. When charity finances are tight, what we may think are simple things can be a great help.

What impact has it had in your work, and/or personal life?

I find my Trustee role very rewarding and very grounding. It reminds me that care, integrity, and inclusion should be at the heart of everything I do, whether that’s at work or home and that’s something I hope I bring to the decisions I make.

As I support a local charity, it also strengthens connections with my local community. My work life is often focused on national or international conversations so I enjoy being connected to something closer to home too.

What new skills have you gained being a Trustee?

The list already feels endless. Whether it’s the legal responsibilities of being a trustee, the financial acumen or the understanding of the everyday challenges for so many people, I learn something new every time.

Working with a smaller charity provides a different understanding to managing budgets as we can be talking about a few thousand pounds rather than the few million I often discuss as part of larger organisation. It gives you a different perspective and a different focus and really helps you to consider what will make the biggest difference.

What advice do you have for others who are thinking of becoming a Trustee?

I’d encourage anybody to be a trustee as you’ll be able to give more than you imagine and you’ll get so much in return.

Carefully consider the type of charity you’d like to support – is it local or national and is it a cause you connect with? It should be something you’re passionate about and where you feel you can make a difference.

Get in touch

If you are interested in a Trustee role or are looking to hire a Trustee position, please get in touch with Fay Phillips-Jones to find out more.

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