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We welcome Nick Jolliffe, incoming Chair of Good Vibrations

October 2021

Nick Jolliffe talks to Fundraising and Communications Manager, Rachel Levay, about his new role:

 

Firstly, congratulations! This is the start of an exciting new chapter for us. Would you like to say a few words to introduce yourself?

Yes, I’ve been a trustee with Good Vibrations for just over three years and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a great organisation. I remember going to see my first gamelan project at HMP Thorn Cross – it was extraordinary. Being a trustee has helped me understand how organisations work, and how they can be supported to develop. During that time, my career has been developing too, from working for KPMG in London, to becoming a chartered accountant, and now working for Morrisons supermarket in finance.

How have you found the experience of being a trustee at Good Vibrations?

It’s a tale of two stories. In the first half I saw Good Vibrations gain more stability, deliver to more people, and expand the team. Then covid-19 hit, with all the challenges and risks that it brought. But it caused so many creative offshoots and insights too, and has helped us focus on what really matters for the people we work with. It’s been really excellent to be a part of both of those stories.

We work with some very marginalised people across the UK, what would you like to say to them about what you can bring to the role as chair?

Good Vibrations is a collaborative organisation, and it’s never going to be just one person at the top. I know that what we do matters, so as Chair, I’ll be ensuring we deliver what we do well, in as many places and to as many people as possible. I see it as my role to make sure we have the right people at all levels – trustees, staff and facilitators – and that all the things around that – fundraising, governance etc. – are effective, and support a strong and healthy organisation.

But overriding all of that, I want to focus on who our participants are and understand their needs, what the research says our projects can do for them, and how that informs what we do at a higher level. That will always be something I try to keep at the heart of any decision making.

What are your priorities for the next six months?

I have four key areas that I will prioritise:

  • To secure a new CEO when Katy Haigh, our current executive director, leaves at the end of the year. I’m looking forward to working with them to push us forward against our strategy, and to finding out what other opportunities they see for the future.
  • Getting back to delivery is going to be fantastic. All the digital work we did over lockdown was brilliant and showed the depth of capability in the organisation. But at heart we’ve always been people who go into prisons, secure hospitals and the community to physically deliver projects. Returning to what we know, as safely as possible, is really welcome.
  • The digital gamelan is very exciting. I saw the most recent trial version and had a play on it. Over the years I’ve seen many versions of digital instruments, but I’ve never seen anything as well designed and intuitive as this digital gamelan. It’s still in its first stage of development, and has the scope to go anywhere.
  • Making sure that conversations and planned strategy relating to diversity and inclusion are implemented. Tangible actions will not only make us a better organisation, but will have a positive impact on our present and past participants, and on people from sections of society we have not typically engaged with or have struggled to reach.

Is there anything that you are particularly looking forward to achieving?

A new trustee who has been in prison and has that lived experience. We have a professor of criminology and a former prison governor on the board, who both bring valuable expertise, but that view of somebody who has been in prison, and potentially on one of our courses in prison, is invaluable. One person can’t speak for everyone who has been in prison – the current population is just over 80,000 – but nevertheless it’s a view that we need.

I also plan to buddy up trustees with people who may not come forward as trustees through normal advertising, including past participants, so we can bring in views from marginalised sections of society. My hope is that one of those people will become a trustee in future.

That would be a great thing for Good Vibrations, but often charities struggle to make it happen in practice.

Yes, there are some restrictions about who can become a trustee, especially if they have a criminal record. But the rules can exclude people who would be excellent serving as a board member. There are ways around that and I am really looking forward to leaning into that challenge, and hopefully more organisations will start to take those steps too.

What do you think makes Good Vibrations such an effective charity?

Since knowing that I would become chair, I’ve been trying to get to speak to everyone in the organisation. I don’t think I’d fully comprehended how incredible Good Vibrations is. People have used phrases like ‘It’s what makes Good Vibrations unique and special’. And each time I hear that I say, ‘What does that mean to you?’ The answer always focuses on core values around community acting together, working with people who are in really, really tough circumstances and actually delivering positive outcomes for them. It’s about helping people, and it’s been really affirming to hear that.

It’s vital that we listen to participants; this should always come first and everything must lead from them. Thinking ‘let’s make sure Good Vibrations thrives’ loses sight of the end goal, which is to reform criminal justice and make a more empathetic society for people to live in. Now, that would make a real difference to the lives of the people of we work with.

Exciting times ahead!

Extremely! I’m very much looking forward to it.