Francine Bates is the Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust, a national charity providing expert advice on safer sleep for babies, raising awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and supporting bereaved parents.
Francine has over 30 years’ experience in the charity sector working as CEO at Contact a Family, a UK wide charity for families of disabled children, before taking her post at The Lullaby Trust in April 2011.
Francine’s energy and stamina was put to the test when she worked for the last Government as Ed Balls’s MP Special Adviser.
Francine tells us that her life was like one long ‘In The Thick Of It’ episode! It was an exciting time and she grasped the opportunity to make a difference at the centre of government to the lives of children and families.
Not Surprisingly Francine remains very interested in politics and current affairs. She is committed to social change, and using her influence and skills to make a difference at both a micro and macro level.
Francine insists she can’t bake, knit or sew but loves Am Dram and on occasion has sung publically on a semi-professional basis. She is also a Blue Badge Guide and loves to take friends on walks in London when she has time.
Describe a typical day for you:
There is really no such thing as a typical day but I start by coming into head office clutching a skinny latte and a croissant.
As soon as I was appointed as Chief Executive at The Lullaby Trust I decided to move out into the open plan office so that I could work alongside my colleagues. I start my day at my desk replying to emails. The day could then consist of internal meetings, with colleagues or external meetings with funders, researchers and politicians.
Today, I am off to Parliament for a reception hosted by Rt Hon Alan Johnson and then meeting a cross-bench Peer in the House of Lords. I also invest time in meeting and building relationships with other baby and children’s charities such as Bliss, Sands, Tommy’s, NSPCC and the National Children’s Bureau.
I am always looking for an opportunity to work in partnership with others.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Professionally my biggest achievement was working with others to persuade the HM Treasury to release £340million (over three years) for disabled children and their families in 2007. Personally my biggest achievements recently have been to lead the charity through rebranding (April 2013) and running the London Marathon for The Lullaby Trust in 2012.
What is in your handbag?
I carry the usual things in my handbag; keys, purse, oyster card (which I am constantly mislaying) and my smart phone – so that I can always access emails and of course Twitter. At the moment I am usually carrying around a pair of smelly running trainers because am training for the Bath Half marathon in March.
What are your ambitions in life?
Currently my ambition is to achieve our goal at The Lullaby Trust to reduce Sudden Infant Death by half by 2020. In order to do that The Lullaby Trust needs to continue to grow and develop. I would like to see all three major political parties commit to reducing infant mortality in their general election manifestos.
Have you any advice for parents?
I made a positive decision not to have my own children although I have been privileged to have contributed to supporting my husband’s two daughters as they grew up. They are now 22 and 25. My advice to anyone who is thinking of taking on this role is to ensure that your partner’s children always feel physically and emotionally safe with you. Being loved back is a bonus!
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
In my dreams…I see myself meeting with the newly elected Prime Minister in 2015 to discuss launching a National Safer Sleep Campaign!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter the charity sector?
Charities are a great place to work if you’re passionate about making a difference – you are more likely to succeed if you decide to get into a charity if you really believe in the cause. Charities are brilliant for allowing you to be creative and innovative in a way that some other sectors are not. If you’re getting into a charity make sure you take advantage of every opportunity offered.
Finally, happiness is…
Happiness is a TV dinner, prepared by lovely husband and settling down in front of the latest box set. I am currently addicted to Breaking Bad and I’m really enjoying the last season. Apart from the brilliant script and acting, I am very struck by the way the writers have put the innocence and vulnerability of children at the heart of the narrative. And that of course appeals to me hugely.
Photograph ©Francine Bates.
Website:The Lullaby Trust
Facebook Page:The Lullaby Trust.