Drinkaware has radically overhauled its trustee board, and taken the decision to limit the number of trustees employed in the alcohol industry to two, after an independent audit found that the alcohol awareness charity was too close to the drinks industry.
An independent audit, chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor, chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, decided that Drinkaware, which gets the bulk of its income (£5m in 2013) from the alcohol industry, was perceived to have too cosy a relationship with its paymasters.
The audit, which was completed in 2013, recommended that the charity place a greater focus on ensuring its work is rigorously research and evidenced-based, with open reporting of outcomes; more collaborative partnership with others in the sector trying to reduce alcohol harm; and a review of its governance to address perceptions of a lack of independence.
A spokeswoman said that the audit was recommended in the 2009 addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding between Drinkaware, government and the alcohol industry.
New chair and trustees
In response to the audit, Drinkaware has radically overhauled its board. The changes, announced this month, include reducing the number of its board members from 13 to between nine and 11.
The charity’s trustees have also decided that its quotas of having five board members from the drinks industry and five ‘alcohol professionals’ from outside the drinks industry are no longer appropriate.
The charity will in future appoint trustees through an open recruitment process based solely on their ability to meet the needs of the organisation; and it may only appoint trustees who work for, or have a policy role, in the alcohol industry, if they satisfy this criterion and if there are not more than two such trustees in either category.
Along with changes to its governance processes, Drinkaware has this month appointed a new chair and three new trustees.
Sir Leigh Lewis, former permanent secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, is now chair, replacing Derek Lewis, who is retiring.
Three new trustees have also been appointed, replacing those retiring at the end of their terms. They are: Penny Newman, former chief executive of Platform 51; Vicki Nobles, a former director at Diageo GB and; Timothy Walker, former executive director of the Financial Reporting Council.
Drinkaware has also begun to forge new partnerships with the public health community, including with the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Taylor, who led the audit, said: “I very much welcome Drinkaware’s response to the independent audit. The increasing emphasis on evaluation and evidence in its programmes, the fresh impetus being given to partnership working with external stakeholders and in particular the new governance arrangements are all very positive developments, on which the new leadership of the organisation can build.”
By Vibeka Mair
January 27 2014
Civil Society Media
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