Community Engagement

Over the last few issues of The Whistler we have introduced the current members of the WHCA management committee (the Trustees) to give you a flavour of who they are, what they do and maybe to inspire you to become one yourself. We have illustrated that we are a mixed group of people of different ages, gender, background, and interests. The things we have in common are that we live and work in the West Hill area and we volunteer our time.

Trustees have overall control of the charity and are responsible for making sure it’s doing what it was set up to do. To be eligible to be a Trustee you need to be at least 18 years old; be resident or working in the West Hill cachement area; not have an unspent conviction for an offence involving dishonesty or deception, be bankrupt, or have been removed as a company director or charity trustee because of wrongdoing.

A Trustee’s six main duties are:
1. Ensure your charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit.
2. Comply with your charity’s governing document and the law.
3. Act in your charity’s best interests and with your co-trustees, make balanced and adequately informed decisions, thinking about the long term as well as the short term.
4. Manage your charity’s resources responsibly.
5. Act with reasonable care and skill, making use of your skills and experience and taking appropriate advice when necessary.
6. Ensure your charity is accountable, complying with statutory accounting and reporting requirements.

That’s the official bit, but rest assured being a Trustee or volunteer with WHCA is certainly not onerous. Over the last 43 years those involved have come and gone – and some have sadly died – but the Association has kept going and the activities have been numerous, often depending on the enthusiasm of individual members. The Association actively seeks to engage people with diverse experience, skills and knowledge so that we can adapt, stay relevant to what our community needs, as well as identify opportunities to improve what we do.


A couple of years ago Louise Gasparelli volunteered to help WHCA. This is her story . . .

I moved to West Hill in 1991 from South London, at which time I was working in management for Our Price Music and commuting in and around Sussex, so locating near Brighton station was decidedly convenient. I currently work for Selective Asia, a specialist tour operator in central Brighton.

It was a slow start, but gradually I got to know my local surroundings and some of my immediate neighbours. I struck up a friendship with Gina Dodds, who regularly encouraged me to attend the monthly quiz at West Hill Hall.

Having firmly established myself in West Hill and having made a lot of good friends here, I finally decided to join Gina and recruited a posse of our neighbours.

I recognised what a valuable part of the community the Hall is and the events which take place there. I suggested I spread the word on social media and now help promote our presence on Facebook and other local apps and pages. I also stepped in to help organise the ‘Jumble Bells Sale’ three years ago and then again last year with our ‘Grand Christmas Sale’ of craft and pre-loved goods.

We have seen a rise in quiz participants and followers online. I am very happy to be helping make this happen and to carry on spreading the word of West Hill Hall and all that it offers us, from quizzes, to gigs, talks, exercise classes and fairs.

Most importantly, it brings a sense of neighbourhood and community to our area, and this is invaluable.

Garden volunteer Gina Dodds tells her story . . .

I’ve lived in West Hill Street since 1986 and first began volunteering at WHCA about 10 or so years ago when my lovely friend and neighbour, the late Pam Bean, would trundle past my house with her wheelbarrow on the way round to the Hall garden. She said she was looking for more volunteers so I promptly joined up (although didn’t know much about gardening).

There were about five of us then, including Sue Williams, but gradually over the years, it ended up with just me and Sue (who was a very keen and stalwart gardener). We always went regularly once a week but not so much in the last year or so as I found it difficult to bend and Sue had other work commitments.

Now, of course, there are some amazing new garden volunteers, especially Sarah Taylor, who has transformed it from a largely ‘wild garden’ into a lovely space where we can all sit on the decking and enjoy spending time there together!


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