Taylor Root UK Trustee Network: An interview with Natalie Chopra

Author Sarah Ingwersen
March 5, 2024

As part of our interview series for our Trustee Network, Taylor Root Partner, Sarah Ingwersen, recently spoke to Natalie Chopra, Senior Solicitor at Cancer Research UK, about being a Trustee for the RSPCA London East Branch

What does your Trustee charity do?

We support animals in need across East London and Havering. We take in cats that are sick, injured, abandoned or in circumstances where there are welfare concerns. These cats usually come in to us via RSPCA inspectors, who have picked up the cats from situations where the cat is in immediate need, but we also take in cats from members of the public where there is an urgent welfare issue. We care for these cats, provide a safe boarding environment, all vet care needed, behavioural and physical rehabilitation, lots and lots of TLC and find them appropriate homes when they’re ready.

We also provide advice to the public in many areas on a daily basis, such as animal cruelty or welfare concerns, wildlife care, giving up animals and general pet care. We support our local inspectorate team, providing equipment when needed.

We fundraise in person and online, run social media comms to provide advice on animal care and rehoming appeals, carry out all required governance activities and manage a small number of volunteers.

What motivated you to become a Trustee of this not-for-profit organisation?

My beautiful family cat passed away in late 2018. There are very few consolations when losing a pet, but something that stuck with me was that he could not have had a better life or been more loved. I wanted to help more animals find the same kind of love and care. The RSPCA in particular takes in animals that have gone through terrible suffering and particularly deserve to find loving homes where they never have to experience that again.

I’d also wanted to work with animals from a young age and while my career path didn’t lead that way, it’s still a passion of mine.

I do all our contracts with service providers and fundraising partners as needed for our governance. Working for a charity has been really useful as there are obvious parallels, such as knowing where to start when doing prize draw T&Cs! However, it’s not just about your legal skills, our Trustees have a range of different jobs, we all bring different perspectives to achieving our goals and problem solving, which has been incredibly interesting. As lawyers I think we naturally look at the risks associated with a situation, as well as being solution-oriented.

What do you perceive as the primary benefits of serving as a Trustee of a not-for-profit organisation from a personal and professional standpoint?

Professionally, I’ve learnt a lot about the differences between and difficulties faced by a very small charity as opposed to a very large one. Each RSPCA branch is also a separate charity, so you and your fellow Trustees are fully responsible for running every element of it, which means you can see every angle of how a charity works rather than just the legal team’s view.

Personally, I manage the care of all our cats and see them every week. Being able to physically watch a cat who’s been left with no food for weeks put on weight, or a cat who’s been mistreated, trust you enough to finally take a treat from your hand, is not a feeling I can describe. Seeing those cats through their journey, finding them amazing homes and hearing how happy they’ve become is just incredible.

How do you balance your duties as a Trustee with your other professional commitments?

I am lucky enough to have agreed a flexible working arrangement which means I can work full time, but in a way that allows me to e.g. attend vet visits. It is not easy; I spend time every evening and weekend doing all the things that need to be done (as well as the usual paperwork mountain…). We currently have twenty-two cats in our care, all with different needs. Being a Trustee isn’t something to take on lightly, but if you really are committed you find a way to make things work – even if it doesn’t go as perfectly as planned!

If you are interested in a Trustee role or are looking to hire a Trustee position, please get in touch with Sarah Ingwersen to find out more. 

If you would like to join our Trustee network, find out more here

We want to reiterate that this is not a paid service and forms part of our referral programme, so please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

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