Barry Blakelock

"I wanted to do more with my professional skill set than simply focus on work. I also felt that I could be more active as a gay identifying man within the LGBTQIA+ community. I was looking for some kind of governance role or trusteeship over the lockdown period and was already familiar with the work of METRO Charity. A friend informed me there was an opportunity to become a trustee, and it felt like the perfect fit for what I was looking for. The breadth of work that METRO do really impresses me. The sheer scope of service users and individuals they reach under our diversity, equality and inclusion umbrella makes me extremely proud.

"The role appealed to me on both professional and personal levels, and as I began to develop a firmer understanding of everything METRO does, combined with the full work and volunteer force, it felt like an opportunity I couldn’t miss. Everyone is extremely down to earth, relatable and welcoming both internally, and externally. I felt I was joining a charity that was run by and working with real people. There’s real opportunity to be close to the work that goes on.

"After being appointed earlier this year following my interview process, one of the first events I went to was the 2021 Service Users Forum. It was one of the first hybrid events that METRO were hosting post lockdown. I got to meet some of the individuals that had been accessing our services during the pandemic. I was struck by how valued the work of METRO is, particularly during COVID-19, and not for particularly complex services either, simple gestures and the running of support groups meant so much to so many. Having the ability to meet service users and see the impact that the charity's work has on their lives is truly special.

"If you are thinking of volunteering, becoming a trustee, or perhaps have some spare time to give, I would absolutely encourage you to go for it! From my experience, I have found the opportunity extremely beneficial. I have been able to represent for the charity, and feel my life has been enriched by being part of METRO. I feel personally challenged each day, get to meet new people, and constantly continue to learn about minority groups and services. It has been nothing short of an extremely rewarding experience. I feel it gives me more back than I will ever be able to put in."

Barry Blakelock, Trustee, METRO Charity.