The outgoing boss of one of Suffolk’s leading nature-based charities, the Greenlight Trust, reflected on his time with the organization and his current state as he retires.
Ashley Seaborne stepped down on Friday after seven years on the trust, including the last five as CEO, during which the corps has evolved significantly, navigating the difficult conditions facing the charitable sector, while continuing to grow as an organization.
He will be replaced by Tom Brown, who was previously the manager of the trust’s Greener Lives and will now lead the next stage in the development of the association, which is headquartered at Lawshall near Bury St Edmunds.
Mr Seaborne said his tenure had “guided the work of the trust” which involves “engaging people in the community who have social and personal challenges preventing them from fully contributing to society”.
This can be due to mental health issues, addiction, learning difficulties or long term unemployment and loss of self-esteem.
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By working with them in woods and other natural environments, he said, these people have had “the time and focus to rebuild their lives.”
“We use the tranquility of the natural environment to give them direction, give them time to talk to others and engage them in tasks that help them realize they have a role to play.
“It helps them develop their self-confidence, so they can take control. “
This focus on the natural environment led the trust to revisit its goals and purpose with the Charity Commission in 2014 with a new mission statement “to bring people and nature together”.
Other notable accomplishments during Mr. Seaborne’s time include the purchase of Frithy Wood at Lawshall with the help of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the signing of a 20-year lease with the council of the County of Suffolk to use Castan Wood in Martlesham to expand his good work into East Suffolk.
Mr. Seaborne continued, “As we have developed this reputation of working with difficult groups in society, the charity has also been able to mature and bring in more directors with financial and environmental expertise, and experience in health and wellness, which has helped to make the organization more sustainable.
Today, he said, the trust has a turnover of around £ 600,000 and works with up to 100 young people a day.
The trust doubled its membership to 20 during Mr. Seaborne’s time – the team often working in partnership with other charities such as the Open Road and Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Support Services and the Lapwing alternative education provider.
“I look at the quality and skills of the staff that we have, and in the industry it’s second to none,” said Mr. Seaborne.
“Our people need to have a broad knowledge of the environment at a high level but also need to be able to empathize with those who are disadvantaged, to help them gain confidence. They need to be positive to help them get out of tough times.
“The feedback I have received from partner organizations has been exceptional and moving. “