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During National Trustee’s Week we asked our trustee’s three questions to find out what makes them tick.

What is your proudest moment any why?

Kevin: I am very family orientated and tend to take pride in adversity. Last year was very difficult for my son and especially his partner. In my eyes he was loving and authentic when those dearest to him needed him most and yet he was so obviously hurting.

Jerry: Maybe not one specific moment, but a series of moments. Most parents I imagine would say that their proudest moment had something to do with their family. My proudest moment relates to observing my children integrate wherever we have traveled or lived. In any new country, they have always managed to fit in, pick up the language, communicate, connect and feel part of the community. From my daughter feeling at home in a Japanese summer school, conversing in pigeon Japanese, teaching other girls how to draw manga, to my sons coaching or playing football and rugby to other kids in French or Portuguese or Spanish. I hope it is something that will remain ingrained in their DNA.

Serena: Pride is a complicated concept – what’s the expression? Pride comes before a fall! Feelings of pride are generated in me when I am able to witness someone else noticing in themselves a talent or an ability that was previously out of reach. So if I apply that to myself – as someone who left school at 16 with a handful of exam results, eager to work and with ambitions to change the world, the world of higher education always felt inaccessible to me. At 40+ I decided I was ready to test that assumption and signed up for an Executive MBA with Swansea University. I started that three year journey with the goal of ‘scraping a pass’ and I graduated in 2013 with a distinction, demonstrating to myself that I was capable of achieving beyond my self-imposed limitations.

David: I am just proud of all we achieve and the determination to improve opportunities for all young people.

James: There are predictable moments that make you proud, like the day I was appointed to be Chair of the Foyer Federation; I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be associated with such a great movement. And of course everyone who went to the twenty-first birthday party was proud to be part of such a pedigree history. But sometimes the proudest moments are the accidental ones which illustrate to you why Foyers are so inspiring and so my proudest moment with Foyer was when I visited the Brighton Foyer. The context was that Jane, Steve and I had gone to meet Lord Freud in his capacity as Parliamentary Under Secretary for Work and Pensions, responsible for Welfare Reform and we wanted to show him a good Foyer and convince him about the future role Foyers can play. The Brighton Foyer had just celebrated its 15th birthday and to mark the event had gone on social media asking former residents to send in a page with a photo about what the Brighton Foyer had done for them and what they were doing now. All 100+ responses were displayed on the walls and they told great stories about people arriving at the Foyer feeling down but finding help,and support so they could move on to find jobs and careers, taking part in sports like running and rowing and activities like theatre or photography, and best of all, photos of them with their partners and their young families. I didn’t forget about Lord Freud, I told our story, and I made him read some of the pages on the wall but all the time I was glowing inside because of these inspiring accounts of personal change and development, and thinking you change the world by helping young people to be the change they want to be, rather than promoting welfare reform.

Karen: Couldn’t pinpoint 1, but 2 of my proudest moments are achievements of my children!
My daughter graduating as a teacher – being nominated for Inspirational Teacher of the year
My son playing on the BBC Introducing stage at Leeds Festival 2 years ago.
Playing guitar live on stage with my guitar teacher!


Who/what inspires you?

Kevin: A young man called Stephen, who sadly passed away 3 years ago, he was 22 years old when he left us. I had known him and his parents for much of his life. He was born with Brittle Bone disease and faced many challenges throughout his short life. He had a quite wonderful sense of humour, studied hard at school and was always positive. His last 18 months were spent in hospital yet his attitude to life never changed. He was never known by many but for those of us who knew him he was a most inspirational person, it was a privilege to have known him, I will always remember with respect and warmth.

Jerry: No one specifically, but (almost) anyone who lives and shares their life with passion, enjoyment, humility and love for each other and the world around them. People who make life (not just mine or my family’s) rich, special and worthwhile.

Serena: The people who inspire me are those who challenge the prevailing paradigm, who speak out against injustice and unfairness and those who bring new insights into old dilemmas. So, people like John Seddon and his work on systems thinking inspiring me to think differently about how the work works; Amy Cuddy and her work on how body language shapes who you are; the work of Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson on the pernicious effects of inequality on society; Simon Senek and asking ‘why’; Susan Cain and valuing the power and contribution of introverts. I am also inspired by people I meet each day as I go about my life and work who are living their lives connected to themselves, their environments, their communities and their potential.

David: The young people that have moved forward and started to see how big the world really is.

James: Not welfare reform, obviously. I believe good housing and communities provide the basis for success, so my heroes are the people behind well designed communities that bring together generations and social groups in well designed sustainable houses, like the Cadburys at Bourneville, or Ebenezer Howard and the Garden Cities, and the Catalan, Ildefons Cerda, whose model for nineteenth century Barcelona, based on regular blocks with gardens in the centre and evenly spaced community resources to allow access for all produced a livable and human city even though not very idea made it through in t he end( I know because I lived there for 6 of the best years of my life).

Karen: Lots of things, particularly achievement over adversity, often talking to our residents and hearing their stories and journeys inspires me to do more in my role for the development of our services.

Personally – my father-in-law is an amazing man who has to date conquered cancer 3 times, raised a wonderful family, been a father figure to his younger brothers with no father in their family, was evacuated in the war, bombed out if his place of work in Northern Ireland and relocated his family to Peterborough


Which of the values resonates with you the most, and why?

Kevin: That is the easy one- Brave. ‘to have the quiet inner confidence to stand up for what really matters to you’ is to my mind hugely challenging. In my experience we are so shaped by our lives experiences that we learn quickly how to avoid embarrassment or conflict or controversy- its the easiest option, confidence is fragile and easily bruised. Brave is something leaders need to value, encourage and demonstrate as a role model for us all.

Jerry: This is the easiest question for me – AUTHENTIC. Being born into what seems to still be a topsy turvy world, with a Chinese dad, Portuguese mum, neither of whom spoke English well, both of whom felt challenged to fit in a part of London that rapidly became gentrified, it slowly became apparent to me that I needed to concentrate on the question of ‘who am I?’ and not ‘who should I be?’ Still working on it though…….!

Serena: Now that is a tough question – they all resonate with me! I suppose if I had to pick, I would choose ‘authentic’ because in order to live any of the other values, authenticity feels like it holds the key. Being authentic doesn’t just mean being true to myself and honest about who I am and what I can offer, it also speaks to an approach that is based on evidence and facts. Testing the authenticity of our assumptions against the evidence is important in ensuring that egos are kept in check.

David: Brave and Loving – because both sum up a brilliant human being.

James: Difficult, as they all reinforce each other, but for my mindset being savvy gets the best from me – I like thinking ahead with other trustees, considering the best alternatives, weighing up the pros and cons, using the other values to evaluate them and then working with the staff and partners to make them happen. This means you can be part of the change you want to see.

Karen: Loving – most resonates with me, not enough in the world and it really does make a difference to everyone; approaching work, life in general in a loving way creates a much more open and honest approach, gets the best out of people.

A big thumbs up to all of our trustee’s that volunteer their time to make our world a better place.

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