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Mencap’s Chief Executive, Jan Tregelles, On Why She Deserves Her Salary

November 11, 2013

From today’s Guardian. Any thoughts, readers?

I am Mencap’s chief executive and I earn £137,442 a year, which the board of trustees have assessed is the right level for someone who has such a complex, high-risk, job. I know for many of my colleagues, our donors and our beneficiaries that this is a huge amount of money. By writing this article I am simply trying to portray a sense of my responsibilities as chief executive and the complexities of my role.

Learning disability is not just my job. It is a major part of my life and has been for 30 years. Being chief executive of a leading disability charity was never going to be a nine-to-five job, nor would I want it to be. But it is very complex.

Everything I do is about outcomes and making sure people with a learning disability can live the lives they choose. This does not stop at the end of the working day and this is the reality for all charity bosses.

Since taking up my post I have put in place a medium- and a long-term strategy, created a new executive, reshaped our corporate function, built evidence into our campaigns and service modelling, and reduced the cost of running the organisation by £6m.

Mencap delivers 7.9m hours of care and support every year to 10,000 people with a learning disability in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These are among the most vulnerable people living in our communities, often with severe and complex personal needs.

For them, and for society in general, Mencap is a safety net. We cannot control people’s lives, but we can manage risk – and we manage it well. Every month we have around 40 critical incidents, which can vary from someone not coming back home on time to someone suffering hate crime. It is my duty to every single person that we support to make sure that my teams are equipped to mitigate and manage these risks.

Understandably, sometimes things go wrong, and when they do I meet with the individual and their family to talk things through. Without understanding exactly what people with a learning disability and their families are going through, we simply can’t make things better.

As well as delivering high quality, specialist services we campaign for change and work hard to improve the lives of the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. We work across health, employment, housing, benefits, the effects of welfare reform, and social care.

It is a priority of mine to invest in our hard-working employees. Every fortnight I spend time with groups of colleagues from different departments to learn about the reality of their work – both the good and the bad. Doing this is essential to my role of understanding and implementing what is needed to get the organisation working well.

For Mencap to make a positive difference to the lives of people with a learning disability, and the 5.8 million family members who support them, I need to network. Last week alone I spent five nights in a row attending internal and external events, meeting with the regulator, the health service, families and Mencap’s Trustees. Without building relationships with these key decision-makers, Mencap would not be able to influence society for the people we support.

90% of the money we spend every year goes directly to support people with a learning disability and we know that people want to know their donations are wisely spent so we work hard to keep our costs down. The majority of our fundraised income, which our generous supporters give us, ensures that we can continue campaigning and providing advice and information for families of people with a learning disability.

It has been an extremely difficult time for the charity sector and unfortunately this looks set to continue. Mencap has been supporting people with a learning disability and their families for 65 years and I am doing everything in my power to ensure that we can continue to meet the changing needs of the people we support long into the future.

Jan Tregelles is the chief executive of Mencap.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick permalink
    November 11, 2013 11:49 am

    It’s only those that use the service can say if she is worth it

    i have met in my time some incredible heads of charities but there are some especially where the sick and disabled are concerned absolutely useless

  2. Mick permalink
    December 2, 2013 2:17 pm

    The saga of boardroom executives drawing huge basic salaries (perks never mentioned!) in cash strapped charities while exhorting staff and public to give more and more, is a scandal that continues to run. What are Ms Tregelles’s fellow directors earning, or that information too ‘sensitive’ to divulge?

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