YouthBank UK

 

Trustees Week Case Study of Erin Wright

Erin Wright (23) is Chair of YouthBank UK - a young person led charity supporting over 90 local YouthBanks and championing the work of young people as grantmakers and decision makers. All trustees at YouthBank UK are young people aged between 16 and 30 and young people are involved in the governance of the organisation (and in local YouthBanks) at a variety of levels. Erin has worked with YouthBank UK for over 10 years and became a trustee almost 5 years ago. Beyond her involvement with YouthBank she is the London Regional Worker on a national participation project for mental health charity YoungMinds.

‘I have been working with YouthBank UK in a variety of roles for almost half my life so becoming a trustee was in some ways a natural progression for me. The job was made easier by the fact that I knew the organisation on so many different levels and because it has always felt as if young people really own YouthBank, but the levels of responsibility and commitment were still huge! There are still many areas in society where young people are not considered able to make a useful contribution, so at 18 years old being able to sit around a table with 11 other young people and shape something that affected young people across the UK felt amazing.

As Chair my role ranges from keeping people motivated, ensuring everyone gets a fair chance to speak, helping filter wide discussion down into action points and planning/chairing meetings to being the face of the organisation, speaking at conferences and events, managing the Chief Executive and meeting with funders.  I’m lucky to be working with a fantastic board and a dedicated and enthusiastic staff team who do all they can to support us in our decision making, but also respect our legitimacy as a board and give us space to lead the organisation in our own way.

I feel like rather than hindering us, the fact that we are such a young board is actually a huge benefit. Aside from the obvious fact that we’re able to give the organisation a direction that fits with the wishes of young people in local YouthBanks, we also ‘do governance’ in an innovative way. Sometimes we worry that we don’t know enough about running an organisation, but this often leads us to be more rigorous and diligent and being from the world of youth participation it makes is easy for us to come up with good ways of keeping trustees engaged at meetings. There is a lot of dry work that needs doing, but we always manage to have fun as well!

Through being a trustee I have developed the confidence to challenge my peers, in depth knowledge of finance and risk management, the experience to know what questions to ask and how to interrogate the information presented to the board by our staff, the ability to and techniques for transforming passion and ideas into strategy and vision. The last 5 years have given me an enormous amount of skills, knowledge and experience as well as some sleepless nights, long train journeys and a YouthBank family!’



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