In a new series of blogs across the year we’re conducting, Hands Up have decided to question our Trustees to share and get to know them better. In this second post, we caught up with Jack, to ask about his involvement. Read below to find out more!
What is your role within the Hands Up Foundation trustees?
I help support the management (by which I mean the supremely capable and indomitably upbeat Rose Lukas) with legal and regulatory questions which come up in the course of running Hands Up. These can often be sensitive and tricky given the complex web of English, European and international laws and regulations which Hands Up has to comply with.
How/why did you get involved in Hands Up Foundation?
I met my fellow trustee, Louisa Barnett, in a cafe in Damascus in 2010. She went on to host the first Syrian Supper Club in 2012 and I went to many baklava-fuelled evenings before becoming a trustee in 2018. I have also helped out occasionally with legal advice over the past few years. It has been a pleasure to join such a committed, clever and compassionate bunch in their mission to help those affected by the war in Syria.
What aspect of Hands Up Foundation trustee work do think is most important/What aspect do you most enjoy?
Making sure that the funds raised through the generosity of donors and the dedication of the Hands Up team get straight to those who need them as quickly as possible. This means making sure we support the right projects, having contingency plans in place when things on the ground change unexpectedly, and communicating effectively with donors and potential donors to ensure that they are confident that their money is supporting those most in need. The quarterly board meetings are probably what I enjoy most. They are an opportunity to take stock of the impact Hands Up is having on each project and discuss new, exciting ways of raising awareness (and, of course, funds) to support them.
What have you learnt from setting up a charity/being involved in the board? – any tips?
Each trustee on the Hands Up board brings different expertise and a fresh perspective on how to keep everything running smoothly. Together, the board has an in-depth understanding of Syrian politics, the charity sector, finance, compliance, fundraising and law. It’s great to see the cumulative effect of everyone’s skills pulling together.
Where do you believe Hands Up Foundation makes the most difference?
Undoubtedly in supporting front line workers in Syria and surrounding countries to enable them to provide vital services to those affected by the war. Funds raised by Hands Up enable doctors, nurses, and teachers to bring basic services to parts of Syria that have been all but forgotten. The war has been ravaging Syria for over nine years. Primary school aged children have never known the country at peace. Hands Up offers a safety net of basic education and healthcare which makes an immeasurable difference.
What are the challenges facing Hands Up Foundation in the next year – both here and in Syria?
Raising funds is a constant challenge. There are many worthy causes out there and we are always trying to come up with original, entertaining events to set Hands Up apart. The Syrian Supper Clubs are always popular, as is Singing for Syrians, the annual carol concert held at St Margaret’s Westminster. To these, Hands Up’s tireless Fundraising and Campaigns Manager has added the extremely popular Cinema for Syrians at Leighton House. The Foundation’s challenge this year will be adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic to come up with novel ways of raising funds in these difficult times to support the people of Syria in what are sadly likely to be even more desperate circumstances.
What three words would you use to describe Hands Up Foundation?
Bright, Adaptable, Compassionate