Early November marks Trustees Week, an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do. It highlights opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.
Here we talk to Abbeyfield South Downs Trustee Jo Sorenson, to find out more about her role.
Trustee: Jo Sorenson, Marketing Director
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
A languages graduate, my Marketing experience began with Starbucks Coffee, during their initial expansion into Europe. I then went into the wine industry, working first for a Spanish Cava house and then a distributor in London which specialised in Italian wines for high-end restaurants. The best part of that job was eating and drinking in some of the finest restaurants around the UK, as well as getting to visit vineyards and taste lots of fine wine!
I gave up work to care for my late mother and my now 96-year-old grandfather, who I now live with, along with my mother’s dog Harley and my cat, Kate Moss.
I now work part-time for a local gardening company, doing all their admin. A bit different from a crazy busy marketing job in wine, but so much more laid back. And it gives me time to be able to ‘give back’ as a trustee for Abbeyfield.
2. How long have you been a trustee?
Since February 2017
3. What made you want to become a trustee for Abbeyfield South Downs?
Caring for my grandfather gave me an understanding of later life living and how important it is for him, or any retired person, to feel they are still making a contribution to the world and having a purpose in life. Whatever our age, it is all too easy to ‘give up’ and stay in bed watching TV.
I loved the ethos behind Abbeyfield – that the secret to a long and healthy life is quite simple – companionship and interaction, alongside good food and getting out and about. I firmly believe those simple things will help anyone stay engaged in life. Loneliness is a killer, I am pretty sure.
4. What does your role for Abbeyfield South Downs involve?
We have regular Board meetings, where we talk about everything from the latest fire safety regulations, to how to best support our house managers to create a good environment for those who call Abbeyfield home. My specific remit is to do what I can to help our houses stay full.
We are just embarking on a new development in Heathfield, so that has taken up a fair amount of our time recently. Now that building is underway, the prospect of getting the house involved in the local community is very exciting.
5. What do you enjoy most about the role?
I love it when I hear that people are flourishing in our houses and finding new routines. Just the other day, hearing about the regular ‘coffee break’ that now happens every morning since we got a decent coffee machine installed. That brought me enormous joy as a coffee addict(!) and as someone who knows how priceless those opportunities to connect are.
6. What are the biggest challenges facing trustees?
Having a board of Trustees who are knowledgeable enough about the later living sector, but with broad experience from outside it. We are so fortunate at Abbeyfield South Downs; we have a solid Board, with very committed members who bring a wide range of knowledge together to serve a common goal.
Visit Trustees Week to find out more about becoming a trustee, or to find a trustee role.