SAIF President: Communication is key

words: Mark Porteous, National SAIF President
Mark Porteous

Since being appointed your President, it has been extremely frustrating not to have had the opportunity to be able to visit members in person. I am hoping, however, that this may change in the next few months as the vaccine and relaxation of the current lockdown restrictions kick in.

I have not let this stop me from meeting members, albeit online via video conferencing.

Recently, SAIF created SAIF Support Zoom call meetings which are open to all members on the third Thursday of the month, and Local Resilience Forum meetings every other Wednesday, and I am delighted that we usually have 10-20 people in attendance.

The meetings are an excellent opportunity to discuss your concerns with other funeral directors, or simply to ask questions about any current relevant subjects that affect us all. We know how difficult the last year has been, so just chatting with other funeral directors can be extremely beneficial. Terry Tennens, our CEO, gives an update on CMA and any current COVID-19- related issues but there is no formal agenda as such; just an opportunity to see how other independents have coped through the pandemic. It is a great opportunity to share ideas, learn from others’ experiences and to hopefully help other members with useful advice and guidance.

Meetings start at 9am and we usually try and keep them to around 45 minutes, so please feel free to participate. Contact the SAIF Business Centre for further details.

I have also taken part in a new Communication Task Group, which was also recently set up. The group consists of Terry Tennens, CEO, Mark Binnersley, SAIF’s PR and Communications Officer, Claire and Angela from the Business Centre and myself.

The purpose of this group is to look at our communications strategy, specifically how we develop our website, magazine and new Slack platform, and how we can communicate and promote Independents to the public. In connection with this, we will shortly be creating a focus group and members will receive a survey to complete in due course.

There are many more meetings in the pipeline, and I am very much looking forward to having discussions online with our members in Northern Ireland and Wales in due course.

Also on the agenda, COVID-19 permitted, is my President’s Challenge.

The charity I have chosen to support throughout my presidency is Winston’s Wish. It provides invaluable emotional and practical bereavement support to children, young people and those who care for them. Their expert team offer one off and ongoing bereavement support and they also provide online resources, specialist publications and training for professionals.

My President’s Challenge fundraising event for Winston’s Wish is a walking challenge in the Lake District and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brian Hart from SAIFInsure for organising this for me. It will be held on the weekend commencing Saturday June 12.

The challenge consists of completing 25K, 50K or if you think you’re hard enough, 100K! Most of those who have already committed to take part are signed up for the 50K, although Brian Hart is bravely (or foolishly?) doing the 100k – so a coffin and hearse may be required for him at the end!

The charity, like many others of course, has struggled during the pandemic to raise the funds it so desperately needs. If you cannot physically take part, sponsoring someone or donations would be so gratefully received.

If anyone is interested in taking part, please email me. We have set up a JustGiving page, so if you would like to donate to the charity, just click here.

For further information on how to sponsor someone or to donate, contact the SAIF Business Centre.

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