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Board Matters

by Mary Fee, Honorary Secretary

From its launch in 1991, Letslink UK continued without external support until 1997, when it was funded for two years by the Community Fund, allowing a modest salary for the founder-coordinator,with formal office space and some clerical and technical input. In the process, Letslink UK, which had been an independent agency staffed by a partnership-team carrying out research, publishing and consultancy, adopted the usual format for membership bodies, ie a company limited by guarantee with charitable aims, thereby acquiring a Board of Trustees supervising the founder-director as sole employee.

Curiously, whilst recommending a cooperative structure for LETS groups in order to share out the considerable workload of running a LETS scheme, whilst the best available advice had been taken, LETSlink seemed to have overlooked any analysis of what structure was needed for the tasks of (a) supporting the development of some 450 independent member-groups (b) conducting negotiations at the parliamentary level on the Benefits issue, and (c) continuing publishing, teaching and consultancy. Thus there was no teamwork nor steps taken to obtain the additional funding which would have enabled a viable group of staff to be appointed.

The mismatch of need and provision took its toll and trustee resignations ensued, followed by the appointments of new individuals with even less clarity on what contribution they should be making. Thus, staffing support at the appropriate level was not in place by the time the inevitable health problems caused by an excessive and unremitting workload over a ten-year period forced the coordinator to take a much-needed sabbatical break, in August 2000, resulting in a regrettable discontinuity of service to members.

The interim solution has now emerged of running the organisation from the offices of Letslink London, one of a number of existing regional networks, currently wokring on a voluntary basis. Individual members, LETS organisers and regional coordinators are working with Letslink London to evolve a structure which will enable us all to more effectively promote the development of LETS in the UK.

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