WWOOF UK is overseen by a Council of volunteer directors. Richard Hazell is Chair of the Council, a much-experienced WWOOFer and a solicitor. We asked him for his thoughts on being a director.
In 1993 Sue Coppard was sued on behalf of WWOOF by a publisher for failure to pay his bill. This made us realise that we had no limitation of liability in place to prevent this, and so WWOOF became a company limited by guarantee and I was one of its first directors.
The directors have taken care over the years not to have an ‘us and them’ attitude to management, but to try to involve all relevant people and to make any decision by consensus. In the early years this meant that we had a management team of the directors, the WWOOF UK staff and the WWOOF Independents staff and this has generally worked well. Yes there were occasionally some long and difficult meetings with raised voices, but we always talked the issue out and generally came to a decision with which most of us were happy. People came and went on both sides but we have tried hard to maintain the basic service to our members.
We have been very lucky in attracting both as staff and as directors people who not only shared our vision of what Edward (Acland – host, RHC and ex-director) used to call ‘the organic mind set’ and of ‘living lightly on the land’, but who also had very particular skills and experience to lend to us, such as IT, the law, management development and the recruitment and selection of staff in accordance with Equal Opportunities.
WWOOF faces a number of challenges and opportunities and we need more directors who can share the workload of carrying forward our vision of an organic future. In particular, it would be nice if any young solicitors who are WWOOFers could become involved and could gradually take over the reins of giving legal advice to the Directors and staff. If I can do it, anyone can!