Meet our Chair
An interview with Shahin Bekhradnia (SMART’s Chair of the Board of Trustees) by Dan (a SMART Volunteer).
What is Shahin’s background?
Shahin was born to immigrant parents and brought up in London. She went to university in Oxford and that is why she is in this area now. She drifted into teaching as she found she got on and could relate with young people. She got into teaching as a foreign language which took her around the world. On her return she started a school in Oxford with friends (one was her future husband). Shahin has also been an interpreter in immigration courts.
What interested Shahin in joining SMART?
Shahin has also been a magistrate for 22 years. One of the very first training courses she took part in was with Mike Howard (One of SMART’s founding members) who was a Probation Officer at the time. Shahin was very interested in drugs as she had encountered people using through her university days, and became interested in how to help people with drug issues. Shahin found Mike a very pleasant, caring and sympathetic person and, after finding out a little more about SMART through Mike, Shahin asked if there was any way she could get involved. That is when she became a trustee for SMART.
What does the SMART Board of Trustees do?
The main purpose of the board of trustees is to ensure that the public money given to SMART is used responsibly. If there was a disaster of any kind, the buck wouldn’t stop with the workers: it would stop with the board who would be jointly responsible, including in any financial crisis. The trustees are there to insure things are done properly and to follow all the rules and regulations.
The board meet four times a year, sometimes more, plus hold an AGM. They have an agenda which they have to get through. Jon (SMART’s CEO) gives a report on how SMART is operating: There is an awful lot to discuss and sometimes they call extra meetings.
They try to meet at different venues, including SMART services, which ensures they get know to both staff and service users. The trustees are all volunteers and get no money from this.
What does Shahin bring to the Board?
Shahin brings her experience and what in going on in the world of magistrates, probation and how those people are thinking. Shahin states that it is very conservative and believes some magistrates are stuck in their ways. Shahin hopes that her contribution to SMART actually matters. She does not have much direct involvement with the service users of SMART, but she would like them to know that she cares and does her up most to keep the finances in shape and brings a little common sense, balance and moderating.
Is she happy with services SMART provides?
Shahin wants to ensure that people that come through SMART succeed in their recovery and improve their lives. The Trustees have to be sure that they are doing it right, and the people at the receiving-end are happy, including proper and quality delivery to people that need our help.
Shahin believes SMART does give a good service and has a good reputation. Ideally she would like fewer people needing our service but in reality this is not the case, so SMART is always trying to get more resources. Shahin believes we should always strive to get better and reach more people.