Sharing skills and expertise with the voluntary and community sector

Having worked in the voluntary and community sector in west Cheshire for many years, Gary Cliffe has taken up Trustee roles to continue sharing his skills and expertise with those who could benefit from them.

Furniture Finders of Winsford, which later morphed into Changing Lives Together, was set up by Gary back in 1997, meaning he has more than two decades of experience in the sector.

A couple of months back, Gary and his partner launched Inclusive Community Development, which supports ambitions for people with learning disabilities and autism by providing advice and setting up social enterprises.

Gary currently offers his time to Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) as Co Chair and Chair of the Finance Sub Committee, providing valuable support and advice to the team and representing the charity at many meetings.

He said: “I’ve always been passionate about providing opportunities for other people and want to help organisations that engage with people in their communities.

“My skills have been honed from starting up and building enterprises. I suppose that’s experience over many years you can’t study for.

“I’ve always worked in an environment that gives me personal satisfaction. I care a lot of about the voluntary and community sector.”

While there is already a great deal of knowledge in the sector, Gary believes there is no harm looking for other skills and expertise that can make a big difference.

He added: “When I help other charities as a Trustee, I don’t see it as them getting things cheaper compared to approaching a business.

“Many charities can worship at the feet of businesses, but those working at charities can often come out with a lot more experience.

“We’re all in it together. When I speak to some charities, I can’t believe how open they are. They talk about their pricing structures, customers and suppliers. It’s a breath of fresh air.

“There’s a general want to help each other in this sector and it’s great to see.

“A lot of people who run charities or groups are quite similar so it’s important to have trustees who can provide different skills and experiences.

“If we’re not careful, we may end up with the same old, same old. There are many people out there with something to offer organisations in this sector and I’d encourage them to become trustees.”

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