Discretionary trust law is powerful.
It allows families to make financial provision in a way that does not affect means-tested benefits or entitlements. A trust fund can provide a financial cushion for a loved one’s future, lasting the whole of their life time and providing “extras” that will make life better. Mencap is unique in having an independent trust company that can provide this to families.
The Mencap Trust Company has a Board of 6 dedicated and expert volunteers. Together they hold the responsibility of the trustee. For the last 8 years the Board has been led by Alan Jenkins. Alan’s tenure ends in July 2017, and we we're in the process of recruiting the next chairperson.
What do I do as Chairman? Where to begin?
I could start by saying it’s about chairing the board meetings of my fellow directors and leading the board in its discussions and decisions, but that would be a bit dry and unexciting. Whilst it is that, it’s much more about being part of a team that makes a difference to people’s lives. What can be more rewarding than knowing that in some small way what you do makes life better for someone? And that is all the more so when that someone is the loved one of another family who needs your help because he or she is not fully capable of looking after their own affairs.
The Trust Company is part of the Royal Mencap family of services provided for people with a learning disability and similar needs. What shines through everyone who works for that family is their commitment, enthusiasm and professionalism. Even though the Trust Company is only a small part of that, those values are very much as present in what the staff, and my fellow directors, do as anywhere else in the RMS world.
Chairing the Trust Company’s board has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. I have been privileged to see it grow and become more and more professional in its approach, becoming a respected provider of trust services for loved ones with learning needs whose families trust us to do what is right with the money and other assets they place with us.
As such a service, we have only so far scratched the surface of the needs that exist. There are over 1.4 million people with such needs and we have 230+ active beneficiaries and another 800 or so for whom trusts have been set up. There is a long way to go. The foundations are in place. The next challenge is to bring what we do and the potential it offers to beneficiaries and their families to the attention of those who need us and might be interested in us.
I wrote earlier of the reward in doing this. I’ll close by recording that one of my favourite and most rewarding moments was Mencap Trust Company’s 40th birthday party in 2016 when some of our beneficiaries exhibited the art and crafts they had made as a result of our support. The quality of what was on show and the pride and joy of those who had made the exhibits was all that you need to see to know how worthwhile our work is.