Response to supporters concerns

We are thrilled to hear from a number of supporters who are keen to support and get involved in the Cherries Trust. There is always more than we can do, and we are only as strong as those actively involved. We have frequently struggled to recruit active members, so we look forward to welcoming new joiners and discussing the areas in which they would specifically like to serve.
The Trust’s objects are set out in our Rules. The Trust is described as “the vehicle through which a healthy, balanced and constructive relationship between the Club and its supporters and the communities it serves is encouraged and developed”. Our focus, then, is around Club relations, representing supporters, and serving our community.
In terms of club relations, last week the Supporter Liaison Officer at the Club confirmed that the Trust is in excellent standing with the Club and has well-established and trusted communication channels. Indeed, during the season we are in touch with the SLO on almost a daily basis to raise and resolve issues that supporters face. It is through this low-profile but ongoing contact that we find we can make the most difference for individual supporters who have encountered challenges or have suggestions. Our Chair is in frequent contact with the Cherries-based community groups to ensure all supporters’ groups are joined up. We have also had particular successes in working with the Supporters’ Trusts of other Championship Teams to raise issues that have arisen for our travelling fans.
We are aware that our website is in need of a refresh. One of our board members is specifically tasked with this, and we hope the results will be available for all to appreciate in the not-too-distant future.
In terms of representing supporters, our board is as diverse as those who put themselves forward, and at the present time we feel diversity is a particular strength of the current 5 board members – we have diversity in gender, diversity between locals and exiles, we span 5 decades of life, we have season and non-season ticket holders, board members who parent 4 Junior Cherry members between them, and board members with recognised ongoing mental health or physical disability. This diversity enables us to represent and relate to parts of the fan base that may have greater challenges than others.
At law we are incorporated as a community benefit society, and strengthening the bond between the Club and the community it serves is a particular passion of those currently involved in the Trust. Like any other incorporated organisation, we are subject to stringent reporting, accounting and accountability measures, and our accounts are publicly available. Our funds are managed by an independent accountant. You will be aware from our governing documentation that our legal structure means that the backbone of our funds would be available as a contingency, and otherwise our funds go towards meeting our statutory and rules-based objectives.
In terms of community benefit, we are proud of what we have accomplished this past year – from partnering with the Club and one of its sponsors to supply 60 team shirts and water bottles at hugely discounted rates for bursary families at the summer training camps, to ensuring an ongoing supply of sanitary products for female supporters throughout the stadium as part of the Period Poverty campaign, to running a campaign educating fans about flares and fireworks. One of our members is currently exploring some projects to expand this work next season.
We know we make mistakes, which we find are inevitably borne out of our passion for the game, our team and our desire to make a difference to our community. We learn from our mistakes. We are one football family, and it is important to us that we don’t judge, accuse or vilify anyone publicly or privately. We are excited about the new season ahead and the challenges and opportunities that this will bring.
This brief response covers the issues you raised and we hope it dispels any questions or concerns. Our AGM later in the summer, when we present our 2021 accounts, might be an appropriate time for those who would like to find out more to meet the current board members. In addition, I would welcome the opportunity to chat/email individually with anyone who has concerns, or would be interested in serving the Trust so we can discuss what that might look like in practice.
Up the Cherries!
Caroline Overton
Secretary to the Cherries Trust
Caroline.overton@cherriestrust.co.uk

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