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Bright future for charities in Suffolk, thanks to young volunteers

Volunteer Week: Celebrating Young Volunteers (16-25 years) 

Bright future for charities in Suffolk, thanks to young volunteers

Young people across Suffolk are showing a positive future for leadership of charities by becoming young shadow trustees.

Being a Young Shadow Trustee is a unique volunteer opportunity to learn more about the role and responsibilities of trustees. Young people get the opportunity to become an active member of boards discussions, represent the voice of young people and even take part in overseeing the management of organisations, as this is what trustees do. Since the average age of a trustee in England is 61, this is an age group often missing on a board of trustees and Community Action Suffolk are keen to reduce this age!

Community Action Suffolk have developed Suffolk Young Trustee Programme and a number of Suffolk charities have put themselves forward to welcome and support young people to learn more about the role of a Trustee.

22 year old Eli, the first Young Shadow Trustee in Suffolk, is discovering the mystery behind the trustee role with St Elizabeth Hospice and how volunteering is something he doesn’t regret.

Eli, why are you volunteering?

I’m volunteering because I wanted to do something fulfilling with my free time and give back to my local community. For me, volunteering for the hospice was an obvious choice, because I’ve known people that have had to use their services and I wanted to be able to learn more about what they do and be a part of it. It’s also a fantastic way to gain new skills and will help to open up new career opportunities.

Summarise your volunteer experience in 5 words!

Enlightening, fascinating, interesting, diverse, intense

How is your volunteering making a difference?

My volunteering has made a difference by giving young people a voice on the board of trustees and providing existing trustees with a different perspective. In my role I am able to give the young people who use St. Elizabeth hospice’s facilities a platform for their views.

My volunteering has also gone beyond the board room and has opened up opportunities to volunteer at events that help the hospice to continue helping others. Most importantly it’s helped to improve my skills and development by allowing me to see into a world I would have never experienced before. It’s opened my eyes as to how precarious it is to manage and lead a charity and has showcased all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

What would you say to a young person considering taking on the Young Shadow Trustee role?

I would recommend it for a number of reasons; firstly you get to meet some incredible people. Everyone I’ve met has a wealth of knowledge, stories to share, and have the best intentions. Secondly, becoming a shadow trustee has also given me more confidence to meet new people and to have more confidence in my opinions. The board has been supportive of my participation. Finally, it’s a great way to gain experience at times that are suitable to you. You put in as much time as you choose, and you get out what you put in.

Any other comments

The young trustee scheme run by Community Action Suffolk is a privilege to be a part of. There would be very limited opportunities to become a trustee at a young age without it. Becoming a shadow trustee has been a steep learning curve, but as long as you remain willing to learn and have a passion for the charity that you are volunteering for, then you won’t regret it.

St Elizabeth Hospice and local charities are opening doors for the next generation, as well as listening to young people.

Rachel Backshall, Director of Income Generation and Marketing , St Elizabeth Hospice.

 The role of the young shadow trustee is very important to the future of the hospice.  Since 2008 we have looked after anyone with a life limiting condition from the age of 14 upwards.  We also look after those transitioning from a children’s hospice environment.  This population is growing for us and so we have realised that we need someone on our management team that can represent the voice of these young people – this we hope will be the on-going role for a young trustee.  We also feel it is a great way of getting young people involved not only with the hospice movement but also the charity sector as a whole.

Community Action Suffolk: Young Leadership Project; Suffolk Young Trustee Programme.

Janet Perry, Young Leadership Development Officer, Community Action Suffolk

Eli Sanyari, Young Shadow Trustee, St Elizabeth Hospice, Ipswich

Rachel Backshall, Director of Income Generation and Marketing , St Elizabeth Hospice, Ipswich.

Could you be a Young Trustee and make a difference ?

Contact Janet on [email protected]

Find out more about the programme: