Q&A: Sarah Wren, chairman of Hertfordshire Community Meals
PUBLISHED: 08:33 31 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:17 20 February 2013
Charity champion Sarah Wren is chairman of Hertfordshire Community Meals, Caldicott Clubs and Howard Cottage, and vice chairman of Relate Central and Northern Hertfordshire
Tell the reader a bit about yourself
I am Hertfordshire born and bred, married, with four children and a granddaughter. I work as a lecturer at North Hertfordshire College, teaching on University of Hertfordshire business, IT, and sports degree programmes.
I have always enjoyed being in a demanding environment and, after I had spent three years as a district councillor, I became aware of several organisations in need of voluntary board members.
Briefly tell the reader about the work of each of the four charities
Caldicott Clubs is a children and young peoples charity that runs clubs and fun activities in Hitchin and the surrounding area.
Hertfordshire Community Meals is a social enterprise set up three years ago to provide meals on wheels to those elderly residents of Hertfordshire who need a hot meal and a friendly face at lunchtime.
Howard Cottage is a housing association based in Letchworth that has been providing supported housing and homes for rent for almost 100 years.
Relate is a counselling charity that provides a range of services including Elevate (an emotional literacy programme), and psycho-sexual therapy.
Has the recession made a noticeable difference to the number of people seeking help through Relate, and a change to the main reasons why people are seeking help?
We have seen an increase in clients needing help with family relationships. Redundancies impact greatly on relationships because peoples sense of identity is often closely tied up with their job; couples may have to spend more time together at home than they are used to; and redundancy obviously brings financial pressures. Debt isa big issue for a number of clients.
We have also seen an increase in couples who wish to separate but who are forced to stay together in their own home because of the adverse housing market. Sadly this can become a breeding ground for domestic violence.
What are your main responsibilities with regard to the four charities you are involved with?
My role in each is to work with the other volunteers who are board members, to lead the organisations, set the strategic direction, and ensure their financial viability. Sometimes that means having to take difficult decisions.
What motivates you to do so much volunteering, andwhat do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
Ive always believed were put on this earth to make a difference. There are so many wonderful organisations that have a huge impact on the lives of numerous people. If I can make just a little difference by being involved, then I have an opportunity to help make the world a better place.
It is a real honour to work alongside so many lovely people who care for their communities and who want to use their skills and experience to benefit others.
What can Hertfordshire residents do to help the charities you are involved with?
Every organisation I work with has a space for extra help. In some, new board members are required, in others it may be providing one-off consultancy expertise, or helping for a few hours as a voluntary worker. It really is great fun to work as part of a team, achieving something excellent.
If you could have one wish granted, what would it be and why?
Thats a tough one! I suppose it would be that people become less cynical and self-seeking. Everyone has something to give. If we all do the little bit we can, we can make a huge difference together.