ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT – April 2017
This year I realise I need to be very careful in my choice of words for this year has been extremely significant with regards to Policy and Administration. However let me follow the usual format and speak first of therapy.
We lost one of our Counsellors in that he moved to sunnier climes. Tim had had enough of the UK’s weather and decided to accept the opportunity to move to Spain where his son had bought a villa. Lucky Tim and thank you Tim for all you did for us. Some people have all the luck!
As Tim moved away so Dan asked if he could complete a student placement with us, so we kept not only the same number of Counsellors but also the unusual dominance of male Counsellors in what is usually a female dominated profession. Dan is training with Iron Mill College in Devon, which is an unknown quantity for me as my lecturing was with Exeter University. However I am sure all will be well.
On behalf of the Trustees, thank you Counsellors once again for your continued sacrifice of time and expertise. Thank you.
A thank you must also be given to Ben, our Supervisor, who only receives an honorarium that hardly covers expenses and loss of earnings as he gives the monthly supervision sessions. I am sure he is worth so much more, so thanks Ben.
Apart from counselling, this year we have seen more requests for absent healing, but by its very nature there is hardly any feedback. It would be good to hear back for silence can be interpreted in both ways of job done and no thanks or job not done and will not bother again. It is a matter of faith.
Massage is still the other main therapy on offer at the Mill and Cynthia is often occupied there giving extreme value for money for I am sure she doesn’t charge enough. But I am also sure the market can only stand stretching so far.
Note worthy events but not in any chronological order
The yearly repairs to the water wheel took place again. This time last November. Hopefully we have learnt over the years as to what works and what doesn’t and, without talking too loudly to tempt fate, it looks as if we have found an answer to the design flaw of a weak hub and flexing of the shaft. At least since the repairs were completed there has been no sign of a similar problem developing. Of course the usual maintenance has to be carried out but that is expected for a machine that is working all day and night, every day and night, without stopping. That is routine, though, and on a much smaller scale.
The smaller project of growing vines took a step forwards during the year. The vine supports have begun to appear and the very first vines planted – all five of them! I can see that it will be many years before we can look to an income stream from them but at least we have begun that venture. Slowly does it and lets learn what works
The wood management is a constant hard work which is daunting to consider. Now and again a tree is blown down so there is no shortage of firewood. In fact it grieves me to see such wonderful wood going either to waste or being chopped up when if only we could plank it and find a market it would realise its true financial potential. But marketing is not my forte.
The new animal house is nearing completion. Yes, it has taken this long to get around to it, but as the existing one is virtually falling down upon the fowls it is supposed to protect then it had to be done. I wrote about this last year so the fact that it hasn’t fallen down is proof that miracles do still occur in this day and age.
The neighbouring woods have been felled and replanted. Although there were some problems with smoke and complaints were levied even by the Primary School up in town, I am very glad to say that the increase in light is wonderful. The vegetable garden is productive once again and I really don’t want to see the new trees growing too quickly at the moment. But we can’t have everything we want.
One issue that needs to be addressed soon is my inability to do so much physical work. My lack of balance and my headaches could no longer be ignored last June and a scan revealed a brain tumour that had been slowly growing for the last 20 years or so. It has been zapped now and the side effects were minimal but I have been told that the symptoms are not likely ever to go away as the tumour cannot be removed and will not shrink of itself. I have started a course of homoeopathy that may help shrink it but no matter what I cannot possibly do the same amount of physical work as I used to do. The maintenance work cannot be shelved but there is no easy solution to that one except asking for more volunteers to take up the burden. Life is change as we are changing with it.
This is the third year in the Charity’s history that we have not had to panic about finance, and as we began the year with only £144 in the account so we finish with slightly more, £446 to be precise. Provided we have no calamities this year, and that includes the water wheel, the income is able to cover all normal expenses and will gradually pay back loans that people have most graciously helped us out with. We still remain dependent upon covenants and donations but a small income is being earned through the government’s subsidies for power generation and the sale of wood, but a very big ‘Thank you’ to everyone who covenants. Thank you indeed.
Just as Counsellors come and go, so do Trustees. Helen Fox served for several years in that capacity but she was finding it more and more difficult to attend the Friday meetings due to work commitments. She continued in her Office until another Trustee was found and so as we thanked Helen for all her work so we welcomed Becky Blackford as she took Helen’s place. It is not easy finding people who are prepared to volunteer and support the Charity to the extent of Trusteeship, working within its ethos and understanding of professional issues. I think Ms Blackford may have had second thoughts as the whole process ground on, considering she officially took up the Office over a year ago, but as working commitments have now allowed her to attend we are grateful that she did commit, especially after the delicate matter that I alluded to earlier, as it involves the Trustees.
The Trustees have a watching brief which cannot lapse and we review the Policy Document every two years or so as issues come to light and need redress. Such an issue arose last November. An allegation had been made against one of the Trustees and, of course, the Charity had to be seen as squeaky clean in all protocols, legal matters and ethos. This was tried to almost breaking point over the last four months as individuals grappled with the legal concepts and their own understanding of confidentiality. In the end two Trustees felt they had to resign over the matter. However the whole issue has shown that the Charity ethos and policy on confidentiality stood up to the challenge. The Charity retained its integrity throughout, and although it was investigated by Social Services and the police it has shown to be lawful and professional in this matter, and has no case to answer for. The criteria of the Policy Document has been tightened up, however, even though it didn’t need to be. Confidentiality is of paramount importance, for counselling Clients must feel safe enough to share their innermost thoughts and Counsellors feel safe enough to help them through the problems. If confidentiality is not ensured then the work would never get off the ground.
I therefore thank the Trustees who have remained true to their original commitment and happily trust them in their watching brief over us.
It has been a momentous year on several fronts but we have emerged stronger as a result. It would have been terrible had the Charity foundered over not understanding roles and responsibilities but as a single body we have weathered the storms. Let’s just hope for calmer times in the coming year.
Presented at AGM 7 April 2017