Campaigners and trustees are fighting back from recent scandals involving the governance of high profile charities.

Negative headlines, such as the Oxfam abuse scandal in Haiti and a small charity diverting funds donated by Comic Relief, have brought the running of charities into sharp focus.

But against this backdrop, 21 charities were honoured at the UK Charity Governance Awards.

One organisation, Coventry & Warwickshire Mind won an award for managing risk in an ambitious project to build a new health centre.

St Clair Gardens was opened following a long running volunteer-led fundraising campaign. The new building helps those with complex mental health needs get the support they need while staying close to their families.

Previously local people did not have access to nearby hospital beds that would allow them to get the help they required.

The project enabled Coventry & Warwickshire Mind to provide a new way of supporting people with complex needs. The unique building is designed by people with mental health issues to ensure that it is therapeutic.

Other big winners on the night included those fighting for women’s rights.

One of the winners, Muslim Women’s Network UK, is a charity which works to improve social justice and equality for Muslim women and girls.

It won for its range of services that help tens of thousands of people, including the only national faith and culturally aware helpline for Muslim women.

Managing turnaround

Dementia UK, the sole provider of dementia nurses to families, won the Managing Turnaround award.

The trustees and new chief executive transformed the charity’s fortunes from facing possible closure to reaching close to five times the number of service users and securing its financial future.

Michael Jarvis, who chairs the Awards, said,

These creative, hard-working and inspiring trustees and their colleagues deserve to be celebrated.

I would encourage everyone to read the stories of our winning charities. It reminds us all that by improving governance a charity can dramatically improve the lives of those it serves.

Case studies of all the winners and runners-up are shared on the awards website, www.charitygovernanceawards.co.uk. The organisers have also put together a useful list of resources for charities and trustees (under ‘Advice and Resources’).