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Mermaids has been supporting transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse young people to survive and thrive since 1995 and has been a registered charity since 2015. We’ve experienced significant growth and change in that time, and in 2022-23 our income exceeded £2,000,000 for the first time, while we supported over 10,000 individuals. 

Given this growth, and following our report into equity, diversity and inclusion, which highlighted significant concerns about governance and leadership at Mermaids, the trustees decided to commission a comprehensive, independent review of our governance. We knew that doing so would invite ever more scrutiny into our organisation at an already difficult time. However, we felt it important that we face our challenges head-on.

Trustees met with a number of providers and were reassured by the thoroughness of the approach which the team at NCVO proposed to take. We are pleased today to share their report, which you can read here.  

NCVO’s report has identified many areas we need to work on, and as a board, we have reviewed and accepted all of the recommendations and agreed on an action plan with our leadership team on how we will address them. 

Some of the recommendations had already been completed by the time we received the report, and others have been addressed since. The areas we are focusing on over the coming weeks and months are:

  1. Improving how we explain how our governance works and how decisions are made to staff, volunteers and external stakeholders.
  2. Improving how trustees work with senior staff and their visibility and ability to hear feedback from all our staff and volunteers.
  3. Testing out our new recruitment and induction processes for staff and trustees through a round of trustee recruitment, which is underway.

We look forward to sharing more of this journey with you.

Belinda Bell

Chair of Trustees

Lauren Stoner, Interim CEO at Mermaids said: “We’re really pleased that NCVO’s report shows the strengths of our governance, and highlights the areas where we’ve still got some work to do.

“The team and I are looking forward to working on these areas with our trustees over the coming months, especially as we look to diversify our board with a new Chair and additional trustees.”

Sarah Vibert, CEO at NCVO, said: “Regularly reviewing governance structures and processes is an important part of good charity practices. We encourage all charities to commission a governance review at least every three years, in line with the Charity Governance Code. This will help to ensure that decision making is effective, considered and focussed on the missions, values and long-term health of an organisation. 

“We look forward to seeing how the recommendations of this review are actioned as Mermaids continues to grow and develop as an organisation.”

Notes to editors

1. Mermaids is a registered charity in England and Wales (charity number 1160575) supporting transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families. We aim to create a world where trans youth can be themselves and thrive.

2. NCVO is a membership community for charities, voluntary organisations and community groups in England. 

3. The report was commissioned in early 2023 following an independent equity, diversity and inclusion review which highlighted concerns about Mermaids’ governance and management. 

4. Anyone interested in becoming a Mermaids trustee can apply via mermaidsuk.org.uk/recruitment-growth. Applications close on 10 September 2023. 

5. All media enquiries should be directed to [email protected].