An interview with Janqui Mehta, SEA Trustee

For Trustee Week 2022, we spoke to one of SEA’s founding trustees Janqui Mehta. Janqui has almost 20 years of experience in media and communications, working on large-scale, national awareness campaigns on a range of social issues.

Why did you decide to become a Trustee for SEA?

I had supported Nicola Sharp-Jeffs with her early financial abuse guide many years ago. At the time, economic abuse was truly an emerging field – understanding was low and responses to it were minimal. I continued to follow Nicola’s work over the years and I truly believed there was a need for an organisation to lead on work on economic abuse, working alongside organisations in the violence against women and girls sector (VAWG). So, when Nicola decided to set SEA up as a charity, I was keen to come on board.

Over the past five years, I’ve been proud to watch SEA grow and effect real change for victim-survivors of economic abuse. Our board of trustees has expanded from just four members to eleven as we welcome four new members this week. I’m delighted to welcome our new trustees to the board and look forward to sharing our skills to support SEA’s vital work.

What has been your favourite moment working with SEA?

It’s been an amazing five years – so it’s very difficult to pick.

But the parliamentary launch of the charity really stands out. I had just had a child and so left my husband wandering around Westminster with our baby in a sling while I attended the event!

We had been so focused on getting through the administrative hurdles of setting up SEA as a charity that we hadn’t had time to look up. Then suddenly at the launch, we were greeted by a room packed with people, including Victoria Atkins MP, the then Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability.  Everyone had such goodwill for what we were doing and wanted to see SEA succeed. It crystallised how important SEA’s goals were and the potential we had to change things for victim-survivors of economic abuse.

What would you tell someone thinking about becoming a trustee?

I know in many ways, I’m not a typical trustee. I am an Asian woman, with less senior-level professional experience than many on our board. I became a trustee in the same year that I became a mother for the first time – a time of life when women are often lost from social and public engagement.

I can’t say I’m never intimidated by the very impressive skills and experience of my fellow board members, but being a trustee is a learning experience too.  I learn much from them, and I hope I can offer them new ideas and perspectives too.

And I remind myself I have something important to bring to the charity – I am totally driven by our mission, I have different day-to-day experiences to many of our other board members, and I care deeply that we are always conscious of how our decisions will affect different groups of people.

I’m lucky that I found myself a trustee role in a forward-thinking organisation that values diverse contributions (I would not have been able to contribute if I hadn’t been able to bring my babies along to board meetings and events in those early years!). But I equally believe that change comes from within. So if you feel that you have something to offer to a charity you care about, don’t let it put you off that you don’t look like your idea of what a trustee looks like. You may be the first, but you won’t be the last!

What do you hope to see in SEA’s future as an organization?

We know at SEA that we, like most charities, need to do more to improve the diversity of our board, and are actively finding ways to recruit outside of the normal channels. This is especially important as we enter a new phase in our journey.

After five years of rapid growth, our challenge is now to strengthen SEA’s roots so we can thrive and continue our work transforming responses to economic abuse from a stable base. At the same time, we need to maintain the agility, creativity and willingness to learn that has made SEA such a force for positive change. We need new ideas, fresh passion and energy to take us onwards!