Being a Trustee at Basis Yorkshire – Sarah Martin

It’s Trustee’s Week, and everyone should get involved, but especially young people.

Many people are surprised that I’m a trustee, I’m not retired or an ex-director of a company, I’ve never owned my own business –  I don’t fit people’s stereotypical idea of what a trustee is.

In actuality, trustees are a vital and vibrant part of charity governance, from monitoring procedures to appointing new senior staff; tasks vary from charity to charity. It’s an incredibly rewarding voluntary role, exposing you to new ways of thinking and new experiences that can often lead to fresh and exciting challenges.

Yet many dynamic and motivated young people believe that a trusteeship is not for them, or worry that they lack the specialist knowledge needed to succeed in such a role. This means that a large chunk of the population isn’t getting involved. As a result both organisations and young people miss out on the benefits that being a trustee can bring.

Trustee’s Week is a fantastic opportunity to encourage people from all walks of life to join boards and get involved with the causes that they feel passionate about, but especially young people under 30.

There are so many benefits to becoming a trustee as a ‘young person’, from learning new skills to making new friends. It’s important for trustees to work closely, to be able to take tough decisions with responsibility for their actions. By becoming a trustee, there’s also the added advantage of understanding of how charities work from the top down-, as opposed to gaining experience from the bottom-up. It’s also a welcoming arena, where you can meet likeminded people and potential mentors, who have a wealth of experience to help you learn and grow.

If you think your CV is looking a little under nourished, consider a trusteeship to learn about new areas, gain vital skills and a new perspective, all while making a positive contribution to society.

As a trustecymera_20161013_105557e for Basis Yorkshire, I can confidently say it’s the most rewarding activity I have been able to get involved with, from meeting new people to challenging my own views and ideals, I’ve already learnt so much, but my friends and family are still surprised. And while I don’t have decades of experience, Basis values a fresh approach and fresh thinking from all its trustees and that in itself is worth its weight in gold.

I’ve had experience of charities where trustees take a hands off approach, and don’t get involved or invested, and I have to wonder why? Being on the board for Basis is so worthwhile, but aside from my legal obligation, I pride myself of knowing the challenges we have been able to face and overcome by working together, side by side with employees. Ultimately it is this unity which makes our fantastic organisation   even stronger. This means we’re all in the same boat, whether we are tackling prejudice or responding to funding cuts, and as a young person, I’m gaining experience every step of the way.

This Trustee’s Week, consider your strengths, and how they could help an organisation that you feel passionate about. Make the approach, and get involved!