The National Forum supports the Board of Trustees and the management team to implement the charity’s strategy. In doing so, forum members work alongside branches and other stakeholders to support delivery of the strategy. They also discuss and feed back any issues or concerns they may have, ensuring that trustees continue to be well informed on the practical realities of autism across the country.

A group of people sitting around a meeting table

The Chair of the National Forum is a serving trustee. Members of the forum may also be invited to sit on one of the board’s committees, giving them experience of the board’s work. This also helps prepare them to apply for any vacancies that come up on the Board of Trustees if they so wish. The NAS’ constitution allows for up to half of the board to be members of the National Forum.

Structure

The National Forum consists of up to 45 members, 40 of whom are elected on a regional basis:

  • Scotland has four seats
  • Wales has four seats
  • Northern Ireland has two seats
  • Northern and Central England has 16 seats
  • Southern England (including London) has 14 seats

The remaining five seats are available for the board to appoint members with specific qualifications, such as users of NAS services.

Elected members must be members of the NAS and must live in the region they represent. They are voted into office by other NAS members who live in the same region. Members hold office for four years, after which they may stand again for a second term. After a total of eight years’ service, they must retire from the forum. The one exception to this rule is if a forum member is also a serving trustee, in which case they may continue to serve on the forum until they stand down from the board.

Find out who the existing members of the National Forum are.

Elections

Elections to the National Forum are held annually around May/June. Any NAS member may stand for a vacancy, provided two other NAS members are willing to nominate them. Members in regions with vacancies will receive either an email or a letter announcing the elections and inviting nominations, with nomination forms for completion and return. Prospective candidates are invited to complete a personal statement of no more than 300 words to support their candidacy. The elections are based on the single transferrable vote system, with each NAS member in the relevant region voting for the candidates in order of preference.

Nominations for the 2016 elections have now closed. We will be publishing information about candidates wishing to stand for election in due course.

National Forum meetings

The National Forum meets face to face twice a year. The meetings usually take place in March and then in November, ahead of the NAS’ Annual General Meeting.

Members of the Board of Trustees are also invited, along with relevant members of the senior management team. The format is generally an initial work session on a Friday evening, followed by an overnight stay, with further discussions taking place the next day. These meetings provide an opportunity for members to catch up with colleagues and hear about developments across the NAS. They are also a chance for members to feed back on the work they have been doing in their work groups and with branches and to contribute their experiences to the discussions. The NAS pays travel costs and provides overnight accommodation for these meetings.

The National Forum is a body that does things, rather than just talking about them! Specific work programmes are agreed at the main forum meetings and members then take these programmes away to explore the issues and develop solutions, working in smaller work groups and liaising with branches. As well as having face to face meetings, they will typically communicate via email and telephone.

If you would like play a part in the National Forum’s work, then please consider standing for election. If you would like further information, please contact either the Chair of the National Forum, Mike Stanton or the NAS Governance Manager, Bruce Thompson.