Ian Brace writes:

At our recent AGM I was able to announce the launch of an initiative about which I am very excited. This is the MRBA Skills scheme which will provide financial support for people who are studying for the MRS Advanced Certificate.  Fuller details are are given elsewhere in this issue of MRBA Matters, but I would like to highlight it here as the first major pro-active initiative that MRBA has undertaken in some while.  This represents a sea change for us, at least a small one, away from being a reactive organisation, responding to requests for help, to having initiatives that actively offer assistance to those we believe may benefit.  As our industry changes and the number of field interviewers declines, our traditional support for this group is also likely to decline.  Our commitment will not decline so quickly because we continue to support former interviewers in retirement or new careers, but we must increasingly extend our reach to address the needs of other groups in the sector.  That is what this initiative is designed to do.  We shall monitor closely the success of this scheme in the hope that it will be just the start of a suite of similar initiatives that will take the MRBA into the heart of the office-based sector of the industry.

This initiative is also part of our programme to distribute more of our reserves to deserving cases and causes which we embarked on a couple of years ago.  The last financial year, as reported at the AGM, saw a modest fall in our reserves of around £23,000 and we expect that fall to accelerate in the coming year partly through the MRBA Skills initiative and through our policy of trying to make more life-changing grants to cases rather than short term patching.  Already this year we have given grants and loans to the value of 82% of the total for grants last year.  Our ability to do this is dependent on appropriate cases being presented to us, but we are now more alert to the opportunities when they arise.

At the AGM, I had the sad duty to say farewell to Sue Robson, who has left the Management Committee after ten years.  During that time Sue has been instrumental in bringing our marketing up to a much more professional level.  Often working with our marketing consultant, Rossanne Lee-Bertram, she has instigated MRBA Week, which has created involvement with dozens of companies in the industry which did not previously exist.  The level of involvement was demonstrated at last year’s 40th Anniversary Party, another of Sue’s initiatives, which was attended by many of our supporters and patrons, including many senior industry figures.  And the impact of the biennial MRBA Week on our income is clearly demonstrated in the chart included in the 2017/18 Annual Report. Significant increases in income are clearly visible in MRBA Week years.  Sue was also central in the creation of our new website and oversaw the setting up of the launch and marketing for MRBA Skills.  It has been quite some workload that she has carried, and she has changed the face of the MRBA to the industry so that we are now in much better position regarding our industry involvement than we were before she arrived.  The MRBA’s debt to Sue is enormous and I thank her for everything she has done.

If you would like to see the Annual Report for 2017/18 you will find it at the MRBA website, www.mrba.org.uk.