NCVO names chair elect and sets out plan to redefine its own role 

01 Oct 2020 News

Dr Priya Singh, chair elect, NCVO

NCVO has named Dr Priya Singh as its chair elect, while its chief executive has also set out a vision to forge a new, closer, relationship with its membership. 

Singh has a background in general practice, specialising in medical law, ethics and patient safety, and is executive director of the Society for Assistance of Medical Families, a mutual benevolent fund with charitable status and a member of NCVO. 

She is also a non-executive director of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, a member of the London Policing Ethics Panel and an associate with Working With Cancer, a social enterprise helping people with cancer to return to and remain in work.

Singh said: “This is a challenging time for us all and I am absolutely delighted to be joining the trustees, Karl [Wilding, chief executive] and the talented NCVO team at a pivotal moment in NCVO’s history. 

“Recent months have brought into sharp focus the vital role that charities and volunteers play in society, doing whatever it takes during the pandemic to support the communities we serve. We need to do all that we can to support them, amplifying voices and maximising impact.”

Three-year term

Her appointment is for a three-year term and is expected to be ratified at the umbrella body’s annual general meeting in November. She takes over from Anne Heal, who has been interim chair since Peter Kellner, a journalist and commentator, completed a three-year term. 

NCVO carried out a competitive search process, led by its president Baroness Jill Pitkeathley and managed by recruitment firm Green Park.

The rest of the selection panel was comprised of NCVO’s co-vice-chairs, Julie Bentley and Vanessa Griffiths, along with governance expert and former NCVO trustee Jules Mason.

Pitkeathley said: “Priya was the stand-out candidate in a high-quality field. Her background in medicine, risk and healthcare business and charity leadership means that she brings valuable skills and extensive governance experience.” 

‘Banging the drum for volunteering’  

NCVO has also set out its strategic priorities in a blog from Karl Wilding, chief executive. It will share the full details of its strategy at its AGM in November. 

The strategy has been devised following a year-long consultation with over 1,000 organisations. It has also been shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Wilding writes: “Social and economic tensions, long ignored, have been magnified. Add in Brexit, deglobalisation, populism, protests and climate change, and it is little wonder that people are worried about the prospects for future generations.” 

But he says: “Covid-19 has shown just how crucial charities and volunteers are to helping people through the tough times. And how we underpin so much of community life in the UK and bring people together.” 

Therefore, he wants to “focus on banging the drum about the huge difference made by charities and volunteering”. 
He adds: “We’ll work tirelessly to ensure that both the public and decision-makers value the essential role that charities and volunteers play – and the potential to achieve more.”

‘A new relationship with our members’ 

Wilding also set out his vision for a “new relationship” between NCVO and its members. 

“When you join NCVO, I want you to feel like joining a network of organisations where collaboration, based on trusting relationships, is the norm,” he says. 

This will mean “redefining NCVO’s role in the sector”, becoming more inclusive and helping to amplify voices. 

“We are proud of our leading role in the sector, but we want to shift the power dynamic that is implicit in this,” he says. 

NCVO has been known for its insider approach, working behind the scenes to change the minds of government ministers and others. But Wilding acknowledges that “insider approaches are not inclusive of all voices”, and says he will work towards “opening the door for others to take seats at the decision-making table”. 

He adds that NCVO will be “less London-centric” and build on closer working relationships with other sector bodies. 

Finally, he set out four new values and ways of working, saying NCVO would “work collaboratively”, make sure “our work is inclusive”, be “open about how we work and the things we learn along the way”, and “perhaps most importantly we will be ambitious”.

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