Being a Trustee – what does it involve?

20 Nov 2023

As we reflect on the recent Trustees’ Week, and launch our Nightline Awareness Week for 2023, we wanted to hear from those who have been involved in the many aspects of Nightline throughout the years.
Matthew Axbey, our Vice Chair of Trustees, shares their thoughts on what being a Trustee means to them:

Being a charity trustee is one of those things that people have different views on. In brief, the charity trustees are the people who are in charge of a charity, and decide what the charity should do, within the confines of the law and the charity’s governing documents. Exactly what the role involves will vary from charity to charity, but the core of the role is to make informed decisions in the best interests of the charity’s purposes.

I have been lucky enough to be a Trustee of the Association for over three years now. During that time, I have seen, and helped shape, considerable change to the organisation. In 2020, we were volunteer-run and managed. We were missing key policies and governance, and, despite everyone’s enthusiasm and hard work, we just did not have the capacity to do everything we wanted to do. In 2023, we now have two permanent members of staff, and an exciting strategy we are focused on delivering.

In that time, the role of being a Trustee has changed significantly. When I started, the role was extremely operational; at times I spent more hours on Nightline than I did on my actual job. Now the role is far less onerous and much more focused on providing oversight and governance – ensuring that what we do is always in the best interests of our charitable purposes, and that our staff and volunteers have all the support that they need to carry out their roles.

I first became involved in Nightline in my final year of university. By then, I had unfortunately become all too familiar with the challenges of poor mental health. I am not sure I was a particularly good listening volunteer, but I did my best, and hopefully helped a few people along the way. The following year, while doing my teacher training, I led a project to establish a new Nightline. And then, in late 2019, I joined the Association as a governance volunteer, before moving on to a Trustee role in mid-2020.

By far the best thing about the Nightline movement is how welcoming and caring the community is. While there have been disagreements, and the occasional exception to the rule, in general the Nightline community is open to people from all backgrounds, and celebrates the diversity of everyone who comes together to help others. And really, that’s what Nightline is all about – students coming together to help their peers when they need it most.

Nightline Association

The Nightline Association was established in 2006 as an umbrella charity to support, promote and develop university Nightline Services. There are now 34 active Nightlines in the UK offering listening services to around 1,500,000 university students.

Our mission is to raise the quality, profile, availability, and accessibility of Nightline services so that every student is aware of, and has access to, confidential emotional peer support, as well as the opportunity to volunteer for a Nightline.