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5.1 A Carefully Planned Backdrop of Radical Organisational Change

 

One of the key motivations in the Trust's decision to seek funding for "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" was the recognition that the grant and the project would facilitate, support and promote change and development within the Trust, as well as within the Archive and Study Centre. The Trustees believed that these changes were essential if the Trust were to fully realise its long term goals and mission. As early as 2005, to ensure that it could manage and bring a complex project to a successful conclusion, on time and on budget, the Trust began a process of self-reflection and development – it sought out new Trustees, initiated work on a new business plan, and in 2008 enlisted the services of a professional consultant, Patrick Webb OBE. Having successfully passed through Round One of the application process at the beginning of 2009, and with the help of a small Development Grant, the Trust used the six month Development Phase in 2009 to explore new ways of working, especially electronically – applying as a charity for a Huddle virtual workspace, for example - in the process achieving unprecedented levels of involvement and reflection among Trustees, as well as with people outside.

 

This development within itself enabled the Trust to embark on a systematic and radical transition in direction and management, making it possible - while re-examining and re-dedicating itself and renewing its vision for the future – to successfully transfer the batons of leadership not once, but several times in the course of the project, in a planned and structured manner.

 

At the end of the Development Phase in 2009 Cynthia Cross, a long-standing Trustee in her own right and sister of Executive Director John Cross, stood down from the Trust and handed on her Chairmanship to Trustee Richard Rollinson, who was also Chair of the Project Management Group. During 2010, as the "Therapeutic Living" project unfolded, preparations were made within the Trust for further steps. As 2011 opened, on January 1st, Richard Rollinson himself stood down as a Trustee and as Chair of the Trust, to become a paid employee. The Chairmanship was passed to Trustee Rosemary Lilley. Executive Director John Cross, Trust staff - including project staff -, Trustees, and the whole community of friends and supporters began an eight month journey of transition, guided by Richard Rollinson in his new position as Transition Project Manager. Following his 80th birthday in July John Cross - Executive Director, Chair, and sometimes both simultaneously, for over 30 years, in a voluntary capacity - stood down fully from his role as Executive Director. Richard Rollinson, who had been shadowing and working collaboratively with John Cross in a gradual handing-over of role and responsibilities during the course of the year, became the new Executive Director fully in his own right. In an historic moment in the history of the Trust, Richard Rollinson became its first employed, paid Director: For the first time, the roles of Trustee and Director were separated, as part of a process of deepening professionalisation. At the same time John Cross remained as a Trustee, ensuring that his experience and insight were retained by the Trust.

 

Various tools were used to facilitate the changes in leadership. During 2011 John Cross and Richard Rollinson introduced what was called a monthly 'Transitional Full Team Meeting', chaired by Richard Rollinson, in which, for the first time in the Trust's recent history, everyone working for the Trust met together, in an informal forum designed to listen, talk, raise, and discuss any emerging issues and ideas for the future which might be arising. Looking abroad to the wider community with a stake in the Trust and its history, a gathering in advance of his standing-down as Executive Director was held in June 2011 to celebrate John Cross's 60 years of personal and professional commitment to children and young people, bringing together colleagues, friends, Trustees and former children from John Cross's earliest days at Bodenham Manor to the present, with glimpses into records and memories brought out of the archives especially for the event. Indeed, as detailed in 5.2 "Disruption and Incorporation" below, meetings of many kinds became almost a way of life.