Trustees to watch in 2021

Increasingly charities are looking for trustees from a broader range of backgrounds, who better reflect the views of beneficiaries and communities and can offer distinct skills

Ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion extends to trustee appointments is also being prioritised by some charities.

But the voluntary sector still has a long way to go. According to the Charity Commission, just 8% of trustees are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Many charities are already excelling at recruiting dynamic trustees to their governance structure.

Here we highlight some of the trustees that have been particularly impressive in promoting good causes and look set to carry that ethos into 2021.

NSPCC appoints first ‘young trustees’

Children’s charities NSPCC significantly improved its board’s representation of young people with the appointment of its first ‘young trustees’ in October 2020.

Shena Patelmaster, 24, and Ife Grillo, 22, where chosen from 166 applications from young people looking to join the charity’s board.

“Children and young people must be at the heart of everything that we do and every decision we make, across the entire organisation. We exist to fight for every childhood, and in order to do so we must be child focused at all times,” said NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless.

Patelmaster’s brief is to improve the way child protection services communicate with young people, while Grillo’s work includes ensuring young black people’s views are heard.

“I have always believed that young people aren’t just the future, they are part of the present. That means their voices need to be heard at every level within society, in order for society to be effective,” said Grillo.

“It means a lot to me that a leading children’s charity like the NSPCC recognises that, and I hope more organisations follow suit.”

NCVO turns to health expert to lead its board…

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) had a tough year in 2020, helping to support a sector ravaged economically by the Covid-19 pandemic and face up to its own “institutional racism”.

To help steer the organisation through this challenging time it recruited NHS and health charity stalwart Dr Priya Singh as chair of its trustees.

A key priority is to help the sector recover from the pandemic.

“Recent months have brought into sharp focus the vital role that charities and volunteers play in society, doing whatever it takes during the pandemic to support the communities we serve,” said Dr Singh when she took over in November last year.

“We need to do all that we can to support them, amplifying voices and maximising impact. I look forward to bringing my experience in leading membership organisations, to give sharp focus to the things that NCVO can do to support its members and the wider sector.”

Another focus has been on NCVO’s recent work to tackle its “structurally racist organisation”.

This included Dr Singh's statement on NCVO's plans around improving equity, diversity and inclusion across the organisation, that was published earlier this month.

…and so does Save the Children UK

Save the Children UK (SCUK) is another charitable organisation embroiled in scandal in recent months.

This includes research by the charity into diversity and inclusion in its organisation that found almost a third of SCUK workers feel excluded or oppressed.

Also last year the Charity Commission said the charity had let down staff and the public over its handling of allegations of sexual harassment by senior managers.

As with the NCVO, the charity has also turned to the heath sector to find a chair of trustees to help the organisation continue to improve.

Dr Tsitsi Chawatama was appointed earlier this year to the role and brings a raft of experience in safeguarding. She is a safeguarding trustee of the charity UK-Med and as worked in Ethopia.

“I am delighted and honoured to be joining the board of Save the Children UK at such a crucial time in history where children’s lives and their future wellbeing are threatened by unprecedented social, environmental and economic issues,” said Tsitsi.

“I am a passionate advocate for children and excited to be part of the team working towards the important goals of protecting children, supporting families and ensuring that each child has a chance to achieve their potential and become whoever they want to be.”

Red Arrows commander bolsters youth charity’s board

The Jon Egging Trust has pulled out the stops with its recent trustee appointment to help its mission of inspiring and engaging with young people.

In January it appointed the commander of the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows David Montenegro to its board to help develop online learning initiative called Jet, inspired by the display team.

The charity was set up by its chief executive Emma Egging in the name of her late husband Flt Lt Jon Egging, to support young people. Jon lost his life while completing an air display in Bournemouth in 2011.

“Becoming a trustee for the Jon Egging Trust is a tremendous honour,” said Mongtenegro.

“Emma and her team have created a phenomenal organisation in the previous 10 years, and I am very excited to be part of the JET journey during the next decade and beyond.”

Montenegro’s appointment is one of three appointments to its board. This includes the recruitment of KPMG partner Richard Peberdy as chair. In addition, private sector executive Samantha Porteous joins as a trustee.

Emma Egging said: “We are delighted to welcome three new Trustees as we embark on our next decade of work. Covid-19 has touched the lives of every young person in the UK and their learning and mental health has been affected, in some cases severely. There has never been a more urgent need for Jon Egging Trust’s unique learning programmes which help to rebuild confidence, motivation and self-belief in youngsters who are at risk of dropping out of education.

"The experience and expertise of our new trustees will ensure that we are able to achieve our goal of reaching out to support as many young people across the UK as possible, both during this crisis and into the future.”

National Citizen Service body recruits former charities minister

Charity sector leaders praised former MP Nick Hurd’s tenure as charities minister, from 2010 to 2014. One described his as a “friend to many in the charity sector”.

In January, the National Citizen Service Trust, which oversees the national youth participation scheme, announced that Hurd was one of three new appointments to its board. Management consultant Deborah Tavana and education expert Jacquie Nnochiri were also hired.

They join a board that includes a diverse range of government, business, charity and sport experts including Ndidi Okezie, the chief executive of UK Youth.

"I am so pleased that we have such talented and highly experienced professionals joining the NCS Trust Board,” said NCS Trust chair Brett Wigdortz.

“Our new members will help to further strengthen our Board as we focus our efforts on ensuring that NCS reaches more young people across the country over the coming months."

Given social distancing restrictions hampering youth work amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the NCS Trust will need a trustee with Hurd’s experience in the charity sector to ensure the initiative can prosper during another challenging year.

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