Minutes of the VSS Board Meeting No 83

Board Meeting Type: Strategic Board             

Tuesday 14 September 2021 at 10:15am

Remote – via Zoom



Board Members Present:

Patricia Haren (PH)                   Board Member

Bertha McDougall (BMcD)         Board Member

Beverley Clarke (BC)                Board Member


VSS Officers in Attendance:

Andrew Walker (AW)                Interim CEO

Tara Lewsley (TL)                     Acting Head of Corporate Services (minutes)

Bryan Leonard (BL)                   Head of Health and Wellbeing



A      Apologies


Oliver Wilkinson, Chair and Richard Solomon, Board member.


B     Minutes of the Previous Meeting


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 27 July 2021 were approved.


D       Co-Design Research (Margaret Bateson)


Margaret Bateson (MB) joined the meeting to conduct a focus group for engagement within a co-design process with board members in respect of a research project.


MB gave a presentation to the Board of her research and engagements to date and interim findings with some proposed recommendations. Board Members and senior management provided feedback to the findings. Board members are content with the findings and direction of the recommendations.


 C     CEO Reporting by Exception


AW provided the Board with an update on a number of key areas. The following key points were noted:


-       TPDPS has opened on 31 August and VSS are managing quite well with volumes of both calls and requests for SARs and support. Funded organisations reporting high volumes of support requests. We will continue to monitor applications and support.

-       AW advised the board that all payments of the 2021/22 Home Heating SDA scheme have now been paid, except for 34 eligible victims and survivors who we have been unable to contact. We have written to these individuals to ask them to contact VSS and will continue to monitor. Board advised that a risk based decision to pay was taken by AO in consultation with TEO. Receipts of approx. 16% of 2020/21 for home heating remaining outstanding. These have been requested again alongside this 2021/22 payment.

-       An update was provided to the Board of the status of a recent complaint from an individual as well as an update on outstanding issues with previously funded organisation in respect of an active judicial review and a separate issue of outstanding funding.

-       AW advised board that engagement with TEO was underway with a view to co-option of a member for the Health and Wellbeing Committee. Board members reiterated their concerns over the length of time taken to date for the recruitment of new board members which could alleviate pressures on the board and contribute to this committee’s expertise, and shared their concerns that this cop-option process did not have a timeline yet for completion. Board requested that these concerns are escalated immediately to appropriate level within TEO through a letter from the chair.  AW to discuss with O Wilkinson and progress as a matter of urgency.

-       Interim CEO notified the board that a written submission had been requested and provided to the TEO committee for their session tomorrow (15 September 2021).

-       The board noted the update that Gareth Johnston had taken up a G3 position within TEO leaving his G5 post vacant. Board will be updated when position filled.

-       TL updated Board members that the Annual Report and Accounts have been shared with them for review, comment and approval for submission to NIAO. It has been requested that this is given by 20 September 2021 at noon.

-       BL provided update to board members that a business case for service delivery for victims and survivors of mother and baby institutions, Magdalene laundries and workhouses was submitted to the Department of Health on 9 August 2021 and we await feedback ahead of a final submission by 27 September 2021.

-       BL advised the Board that there is no update on the Regional Trauma Network since the previous Board meeting.  VSS continues to await a ministerial statement, and to liaise with RTN re: co-design.

-       The Board noted that VSS are working with the HIA Redress Board on relationship building across 5 key areas including information recovery and retrieval, statement of experience, raising awareness of support and services via the HIA Redress Board website and with solicitors and, welfare/financial advice services.


AP: VSS chair to write to TEO to outline risks which exist for VSS with board under quota, highlighting particular needs of the HWB Committee.


E      Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme


AW presented an overview and implications for VSS of the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme (TPDPS). Keys areas covered included


-       Background to the scheme

-       Initial barriers/issues

-       Support and advice structures

-       Ongoing oversight

-       Entitlement & payments

-       Other risks/issues


AW welcomed feedback from the VSS Board members and engaged in separate Q&A session.


E     Next Meeting



The next meeting of the Board is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 19 October 2021.