Annette Jack – Chair of Social Action for Health

Annette has worked in and for the healthcare sector throughout her career, starting in the NHS London Specialised Commissioning Group before moving into management consultancy where she spent three years working across a variety of NHS organisations. She then moved to NHS Improvement where she spent two years working on strategy development with NHS Trusts, healthcare systems, and at a national level. Annette has an MA in Public Policy from King’s College London and also works with the mentoring charity Reach Out.

Organisation: Social Action for Health has been working for thirty years in North East London to end health inequalities. We work with diverse communities to empower people to live healthier lives. This includes a range of work, for example, providing health management courses in a range of languages, building patient support networks and advocacy groups, and ‘on the ground’ research into environmental determinants of health. It is a difficult time for the charity, as the traditional service contracts from CCGs and Local Authorities become fewer and far between. As an organisation, we now have to transform how we deliver services and access funding to adapt and survive in the new environment.

When and why did you become a Chair: I became Chair in January 2017, having joined the Board in October 2016. Our previous Chair sadly had to step down due to a conflict of interest, and so I had to step up into the role much sooner than I would have expected. It has been a steep learning curve but I feel incredibly lucky to have been given this opportunity. One of my original reasons for becoming a trustee was to one day become a Chair. Now I’m in the role I’m hopeful it is something I will do for the rest of my career.

What do you most enjoy about chairing: I most enjoy the ‘actual’ chairing at our board meetings. I’m always interested to hear the opinions and thoughts of our board, who have a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds. I also enjoy facilitating open discussion and frank conversation, to come to new ideas. I firmly believe that the only way to meet the challenges we face as a Board is by having meetings where we talk the problems through, not just review them on paper!

Do you have a key tip or lesson to share with your fellow Chairs: I’ve been given two excellent pieces of advice I’d like to share:
A good Chair will be the person who speaks the least in board meetings
As a Board you are the custodians of the charities values, you must hold steadfastly to these whilst you steer the organisation through periods of change.

Why did you join AoC: As a new, young Chair I wanted all the information and support I could get my hands on. AoC provides this with the published guides, the networking opportunities, and the training courses. We’re also working to set up a ‘young’ Chairs network, which I’m really looking forward to, so watch this space!