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What it’s like to be a charity trustee at Peeps

What does Peeps do?

Peeps is the only UK charity dedicated to supporting those with HIE - Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy. HIE is caused by a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain. It can occur before, during, or shortly after birth. The severity of this can vary greatly and is graded from grade one, which is mild, to grade three, which is severe. HIE events are often unexpected and can be very traumatic for families affected. 

Peeps was set up in 2018 by Sarah and Steve to support families across the UK who are affected by HIE. This is done via providing parent packs to neonatal intensive care units, peer support, funding for equipment and counselling and signposting to other charities and support groups.

My involvement

I applied to be a trustee in February 2020 and was appointed to the board of trustees for a two-year term from 1 May 2020. I was subsequently appointed as chair of the trustees shortly afterwards. I agreed to stay on for a second two-year term in April 2022.

I had not been a charity trustee before then, but I had worked with families affected by brain injury for 20 years and wanted to use that experience and knowledge to support others outside my day job as a solicitor. I know that families can feel very isolated after an HIE event and Peeps can provide much needed support, funding for equipment and counselling.

As trustees of Peeps, we meet every six to eight weeks via zoom or MS Teams. Unfortunately due to the Covid lockdowns, which had started before I was appointed, it was almost two years before we managed to meet face to face. It was great to finally meet in the summer. As the charity has grown, we now have trustees in different parts of the country and so meeting on zoom or MS Teams works very well. I chair all of the virtual meetings and, in advance of the meetings, I hold a discussion with the charity manager to agree items for the agenda which is then circulated to the other trustees to see if they want to add anything.  

In between meetings I am in contact with the other trustees either by email or phone to discuss issues as and when they arise. This makes it easy to deal with anything that crops up and ensures we can make quick decisions.

HIE Awareness Day is on 4 April each year. I have supported the awareness days since the first one set up by Peeps in April 2019. It's great to see the amount of support on social media around this day and all those who are also keen to raise awareness of HIE.

Peeps have lots of plans and it is great to work with them to progress all of the new initiatives.

This has been a hugely rewarding role and is different from my day job as a medical negligence solicitor representing children and adults with injuries.  

I would recommend volunteering as a trustee to anyone. Charities need trustees who will share the responsibility for running the charity. 

Find out more about Peeps and HIE  

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in supporting individuals and families affected by brain injury and other healthcare issues at our dedicated medical negligence section.