Navigating to calmer waters

Care Ashore

“Action Planning were enormously helpful. It’s rare to find a consultant who is both brave and measured. They were brave in their initial report and measured in the way they managed the recovery. David was a good guide for me, as someone new into the sector, to identify what was achievable and what wasn’t. He helped me to understand the constraints in which I was working and how to go about it, and he was always available when I needed to sound him out.”

John Walsh, Chair of Trustees, Care Ashore

“The Care Ashore journey was exceptionally challenging, not least since the original board was, understandably, emotionally invested in the organisation and keen to participate in its regeneration. The transition required clear-sighted external analysis and oversight to enable Care Ashore to become a viable and stable environment for its beneficiaries. David Saint and Action Planning brought a wealth of professionalism and sensitivity to achieve this goal.”

Katie Higginbottom, Head of ITF Seafarers’ Trust

Care Ashore serves all seafarers, fishermen and their dependents in need, by providing sheltered housing with support and holiday accommodation on its extensive Springbok Estate in rural Surrey. The charity also manages a number of commercial activities, including property rental, farm rental, camping and caravanning, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and guest rooms, to generate income to subsidise the cost of services offered to seafarers, and to support capital projects on site.

Care Ashore has faced multiple challenges in recent years, culminating in one of its funders, ITF Seafarers’ Trust, asking Action Planning to carry out a root and branch review to establish opportunities for improvement and growth.

Our brief was to analyse the charity’s accounts, interview key personnel, carry out an on-site appraisal of the premises (ie fit for purpose) and provide an overview assessment of the charity’s future, including projections of beneficiary need, governance, leadership and management capacity, likely capital investment requirements and an outline five-year budget and cash flow forecast.

David Saint led on the initial investigation, with Victoria Fafalios carrying out the financial analysis. Together they produced a report that pulled no punches in pointing out where Care Ashore was falling short and made strong recommendations as to the changes required to position the organisation for the future.

As one of the recommendations was a change in personnel to add essential skills to the Board of Trustees, some of whom had been in post far beyond the term set out in the Articles of Association, the report received a mixed reception, but ultimately the Board accepted the analysis and overall thrust of the report.

Action Planning was then commissioned by ITF Seafarers’ Trust to undertake an independent recruitment process to replace those that had gone beyond their tenure and to seek a permanent replacement for the interim CEO. In addition, we helped the Board work through a number of governance issues, which involved: updating the Articles of Association; analysing financial data,  managing the subsequent outsourcing of the charity’s Finance function; and advising on revisions to staff contracts and benefits. Ultimately a very experienced new Chief Executive and five excellently qualified new trustees  joined Care Ashore.

During this process David formed important ‘critical friend’ relationships with the outgoing Chair and the incoming one, John Walsh, as well as with Katie Higginbottom, Head of ITF Seafarers’ Trust. Their collaborative vision was valuable in seeing through the changes that needed to be made.

John Walsh, agreed to take the position as Chair to drive change forward and to put in place the foundations for a forward-looking charity with an ambition to be an exemplar in its sector. His experience in business, commitment to the cause and insistence on strong governance are steering Care Ashore in the right direction, with many of the problems highlighted in our initial report being addressed already.

The Board as a whole is much stronger now. Having been cut to four Trustees after the resignations, it now stands at nine, with the recruitment process having brought in the skills required. The Articles of Association have been revised, retaining the involvement of the RMT union and recognising its involvement dating back to the inception of the Springbok estate upon which Care Ashore resides.

The new Chief Executive started in November and the charity’s finances are now managed off-site by an independent company.

Most importantly in all of this, the beneficiaries whom the charity was set up to serve, have been front of mind through the changes and proposals taking place and now stand to enjoy a better standard of service from the revitalised Care Ashore.

John Walsh believes that having had Action Planning’s support in addressing many of the internal issues, the charity is now well placed to reach out to the much wider stakeholder community, thereby growing both its offering and its reputation.

Consultant’s insight:
Thanks to the enlightened and generous support of ITF Seafarers’ Trust, coupled with the close engagement and wise counsel of its chief executive Katie Higginbottom, we were able to help the Board implement a rational process of re-engineering the charity, work through the issues (sometimes, it has to be acknowledged, painfully), and revitalise itself with dynamic new blood. Under the leadership of its new Chair John Walsh, and with Cath Stamper fresh in post as the new Chief Executive, Care Ashore is now in a strong position to realise its very considerable potential.

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