Chair of Trustees update

At our board meeting in September 2022, we agreed, in the spirit of openness, that I will post a short message after our quarterly board meeting summarising our key actions and decisions.

Message from our Chair of Trustees

As a board of trustees, we believe in being transparent in our thoughts and actions.  We appreciate the significant responsibilities we have to always act in the best interests of our beneficiaries, whilst recognising we could not do this without the support and dedication of our staff team, partners, volunteers and stakeholders.  At our board meeting in September 2022, we agreed, in the spirit of openness, that I will post a short message after our quarterly board meeting summarising our key actions and decisions.

Esther Sadler-Williams, Chair of Trustees at Pharmacist Support

Message from the Chair – December 2023

The following is a short summary after our December 23 Board meeting summarising some of our key actions and decisions.

Two key documents were approved: the 2024 budget and the updated grants policy.  The updated grants policy was the result of considerable efforts by the staff team and trustees to ensure that our financial assistance scheme met the changing needs of our beneficiaries and importantly it identified some new areas where we could provide some additional support.

The Board were treated to a presentation on wellbeing by two staff members Melissa Cochrane and Riven Seamarks  and highlighted the new training offering for pharmacy leaders ‘Embracing a Workplace Wellbeing Culture’.  This is an incredible and very carefully thought-out piece of work which should really support our aspiring pharmacy managers of tomorrow.

We continue to explore extending our beneficiary pool to potentially include Pharmacy Technicians.  To support our decision making we had a valuable session with our legal advisor where we reviewed changes that would be required to our articles, as well as other potential legal ramifications should this change go ahead.

The staff team were congratulated on a fantastic year, and we wished everyone a successful move to the new office as well as a Merry Christmas.  Finally, we said a fond farewell to two valued trustees Anita Cawley and Paul Johnson who were thanked for their years of dedicated service to the charity.

Message from the Chair – September 2023

The following is a short summary after our September 23 Board meeting summarising some of our key actions and decisions.

As we will be losing two Trustees at the end of the year, the Board elected a new Vice Chair/Chair of our Staffing and Remuneration Sub-committee (Mark Sweeney) as well as a new chair of our Finance Sub-committee (David Downham) who will take up their roles in December. In addition, we agreed that it would be prudent to begin a Trustee recruitment process in early 2024 and the recently revised Trustee Skills audit process would support this important work.  We also discussed the role of non-trustee members of Sub-committees and considered if a ‘Key Ambassador’ would help further the Charity’s aims.  This will be debated further in our December Meeting.

The Grants Working Group had completed their review and a considerable part of the meeting was devoted to reviewing the proposed new Grants Policy.  The goal of this new policy was to ensure that our financial assistance scheme met the changing needs of our beneficiaries, identifying any areas where we may be able to provide any additional support.

The Board noted that the Chair and the Chief Executive are due to have a meeting with the RPS in October to discuss the current ‘donation process’.  Although the Assembly had proposed a £1 per member donation, this had been modified to requesting Members to make a voluntary donation during the renewal process.  To date receipts are very low at around 10% of what had been expected compared to other key donors.  Barriers to the process and alternative approaches will be discussed with the RPS.

Finally, the team were congratulated on being nominated for two awards and securing more cost-effective office space in the local area, which will become the Charity’s new home from November.

Message from the Chair – June 2023

The following is a short summary after our June 23 meetings summarising some of our key actions and decisions.

The initial part of our meeting discussed our strategic focus for the final year of our 5-year plan.  We considered resourcing and some additional ‘quick wins’ to support our fundraising plan which has an ambitious target of raising £1 million in the next five years. We also looked at approaches to ensure that, now we have improved equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data about our beneficiaries, that future marketing is appropriately targeted and focused on those who we may not be reaching.  Another important topic was to review our action plan, exploring if we should add Pharmacy Technicians to our beneficiary pool.  Prior to starting our stakeholder consultation later this year, we will ensure appropriate legal advice is taken so we fully understand the implications and required actions of any decision we may make.

The Board approved the 2022 Trustee Annual Report and Accounts which is one of our key responsibilities.  The team was recognised for the significant effort required in preparing for the annual audit and for pulling together an excellent document.  In addition, a number of HR policies as well as the investment policy were up for review and were approved subject to some minor modifications.

Sarah Frangos, Senior Marketing Comms and Partnerships officer provided the Trustees with an excellent presentation on ‘Partnerships’ including upcoming plans.  In future we hope that other members of the staff team will similarly join and provide ‘spotlights’ to give our Board a more detailed insight into important topics that the charity is managing.

Message from the Chair – March 2023

The following is a short summary after our March 23 Board meeting summarising some of our key actions and decisions.

The Board agreed the format for the Trustee Annual report which will be issued in June.   Prior to agreeing an update to our investment policy, we were provided with a review of the market from our Investment Managers; the last year has been difficult, but our portfolio is performing similarly to other charities, and overall it is delivering well over time.   From an ESG perspective it was pleasing to learn that our investments are scoring highly in terms of sustainability and carbon footprint indicators. The impact of the recently published report from the UK Commission on ‘Pharmacy Professional Leadership’ was discussed in regard to our exploration of the possibility of including Pharmacy technicians within our pharmacy family. Whilst we continue this process, we agreed to re-align our timeline so that any approach by the prospective Pharmacy Leadership Council can be considered along with our wider engagement.

Plans for our fundraising strategy were reviewed and we are considering ways that we can ‘celebrate success’ with our donors and partners. There has been a significant increase in the uptake of our counselling service, and we agreed a way forward to enable us to deliver this valuable service within our budget constraints.  The Board agreed the Office Working group should progress with the option of securing a smaller dedicated office space since fewer staff are in the office on a day-to-day basis.  Finally, we celebrated the fact that Pharmacist Support will be 182 in April!

The Board also updated its position statement in relation to pharmacy technicians:

Position statement on Pharmacy Technicians –  March 23

As a charity, it remains our purpose to support “our pharmacy family” in perpetuity, as well as continuing to evolve to remain relevant.

We had been increasingly asked to consider supporting Pharmacy Technicians and, as part of our strategic review cycle, we began a process to review options around Pharmacy Technicians potentially becoming part of our beneficiary pool in the future.

In light of the recent publication of the UK Commission’s report, on the future for Pharmacy Professional Leadership, the Board of Pharmacist Support has agreed to re-evaluate our next steps so that the potential impact of the report, including that of the prospective Pharmacy Leadership Council, can be considered.

This statement will continue to be updated as this important initiative progresses and as our understanding of beneficiary need develops.

Message from the Chair – December 2022

The following is a short summary after our December 22 Board meeting summarising some of our key actions and decisions.

The Board approved the 2023 budget based on the strategy we agreed in September.  External factors meant that, financially, it was not a great quarter with significant negative impact on the portfolio.  This will be monitored very closely.  We continue to develop our processes to measure how effectively our strategy is supporting our overall EDI approach.  The staff having been working with the RPS to put processes in place to enable pharmacists to easily donate to the charity when they renew their membership. Following a working trial, in addition to feedback, a ’hybrid working policy’ for the staff was agreed and  this will support  the working group that is considering the office lease options (which needs to conclude by March 2023).

The Board also agreed the following position statement:

Position statement on Pharmacy Technicians – 9 December 22

As a charity, it remains our purpose to support “our pharmacy family” in perpetuity, as well as continuing to evolve to remain relevant.

We are increasingly asked about including Pharmacy Technicians in our beneficiary pool and believe that this is the right time to consider options around Pharmacy Technicians becoming part of our pharmacy family in the future.

The Board of Pharmacist Support has agreed to start a period of engagement with partners and key stakeholders to review the potential impact and next steps of including Pharmacy Technicians as part of our beneficiary pool.

This statement will be updated as this important initiative progresses and as our understanding of beneficiary need develops.

Message from the Chair – September 2022

Our meeting this quarter was a combined strategy review and board meeting. We reviewed progress to date on our 5-year mission, values and objectives and considered what other actions were necessary to ensure that as a charity, we fulfil our purpose to exist to support our pharmacy family in perpetuity.

As well as considering the beneficiary pool we should support in the future, we also considered some new and innovative approaches to support funding and income streams for the charity.  We reviewed our quarterly finances and whilst our expenditure is below budget, our portfolio, which funds much of our activity, has been significantly impacted by the downturn in the stock market.  On a positive note, we have completed a full review our investment managers and in line with our ESG policy will be fully divested in all fossil fuel producers by the end of this month – three months ahead of schedule.

We approved the first version of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan. This will be a ‘living document’ and part of our overall operational plan thus regularly reviewed and updated.  Over the next couple of quarters key activities for the board include reviewing our grants policy and the office lease options in view of our new hybrid working arrangements.

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