An interview with City Hearts Trustee Faye Smith

We spoke to Faye about her passion for our work and role as a trustee, here’s what she had to say…

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I love sea swimming all through the year (best so far, 2 degrees out, 8 degrees in!), coastal and hill walking, being in nature, farmer’s markets, hosting friends, reading Shetland crime fiction, and a good movie and a glass of rose at the weekend. I share the original faith base of City Hearts loving people, especially those lest powerful who the world often overlooks.

I work as a Marketing and PR trainer and consultant and founded my marketing company 13 years ago. I first came across Kirsty from City Hearts at networking events, heard her own powerful story and those of survivors of trafficking. After that I began supporting the charity where I could, making City Hearts my company’s charity of the year over a decade ago now.

Two and a half years ago I started working 1 or 2 days a month directing communications, building media relationships, and coaching City Hearts’ newly-appointed internal communications officer. One and a half years ago, CEO Ed Newton invited me to become a Trustee. This was a tricky decision as I wanted to maintain clear boundaries for everyone’s sake, but it was hearing the story of a woman survivor kept as a slave for five years, who hadn’t seen daylight that entire time, which made my mind up. I wanted to do everything I could to help. As a Trustee, I bring all my skills and experience as a former senior manager in a multi-million pound company, as well as my communications expertise to offer a listening ear, impartial view, fresh ideas and be a sounding board.

I’ve lived in Sheffield all my life, but I am currently based in Kent where I am working part time and taking some time out in a therapeutic recovery community who help people who have had loss and bereavement from Rwandan genocide survivors to the US military. Here I am learning trauma recovery techniques I can pass on.

I am single and have a 24 year old son who lives and works in London. While at university he headed up their anti trafficking charity and spoke on human slavery at the European Youth Parliament while in sixth form. We love walking together and playing board games, which he mostly wins!

Why are you a Trustee?

My resilience in adversity story has been covered extensively in the national media. My former husband struggled with alcohol addiction and died at 48, my daughter died two years later aged just 12 of a trauma-related seizure. These experiences have given us both enormous compassion for some of the devastating life experiences the City Hearts clients face. Whether the trauma of a controlling relationship, struggling to overcome addiction on the Restore programme, suicidal thoughts, or being torn from their families and children- we resonate with their suffering. Though our stories are not the same, like them, I have survived wounded and depended on others to support me at the lowest times in my life. Everyone should have someone to turn to in despair. I always remember the profound impact of going into a safehouse for the first time during City Hearts’ Global Gathering and the sense this could become a worldwide movement. There is the possibility to transform so many more lives. I was also adopted back in the sixties, and our Forging Ahead team work with so many adoptees who are sadly over-represented in the criminal justice system. There but for grace of God…

What are you most excited about this year for City Hearts?

Quality and quantity. The continued quality of service that shines throughout City Hearts, that enormous personal care taken in supporting clients and the quantity of people we are funded to help. I hope we can reach as many people as possible by sharing our inspiring stories to attract funders, donors and volunteers.