Being a Trustee: Why everyone’s a Winner

Action4Youth, a leading charity based in Buckinghamshire and working throughout the region, providing positive, often transformational experiences and activities, is currently on the lookout for enthusiastic and experienced people, committed to improving the life opportunities of children and young people.

But what’s involved in the role of a trustee and what are the benefits? We caught up with Ken Birkby, Chair of Action4Youth’s Board of Trustees to glean his 30 years of knowledge and experience in working together as a board to govern and direct how a charity is managed and run.

About 30 years ago, when I worked for Marks and Spencer I was asked to join a training committee for a national youth charity that M&S supported. I subsequently became a Trustee. One of the other Trustees was involved with the county organisation in Buckinghamshire and he asked me if I would join their Board, which I did. This was one of the founding organisations of Action4Youth. I became its chair in 2005. I believe that helping young people to develop outside formal education is fundamentally important in a healthy society.

Ideally, a Trustee Board consists of a variety of people from different backgrounds, with different skills and of different ages. One thing they should have in common is the desire to assist young people in their development. The Board needs to recruit new members to fill vacancies where
the skill needs have been clearly demonstrated and to replace retiring Trustees to inject freshness and dynamism to the work of the Board.

Action4Youth is facing many of the challenges that are common to all charities. Funding is increasingly difficult to raise, demands for the work grow all the time, volunteers are in short supply. In addition, young people often do not get the amount of good press that they deserve.

I do take pride in the development of the Charity over the past years in terms of its growth, breadth of opportunities and growth in numbers of young people that we have been involved with.

The Board’s ambitions for the future include the long term financial stability of the Charity to enable it to expand its offer in terms of numbers of young people, geographic spread of activities, as well as a wider range of ‘products.’

As Chair of Trustees, I probably spend much more of my time involved with Action4Youth, and particularly the CEO, than most of my colleague Trustees. Typically, a Trustee would attend around 6 Board meetings per year, as well as several meetings of any sub-committees that are of particular relevance to that Trustee’s skills. In addition, there may be functions where a Trustee represents the Charity and also involvement with the Senior Management Team, where their skills can be particularly useful for certain projects.

I would say to anyone thinking of becoming a Trustee, have a close look at what the Charity is doing, and speak to young people and perhaps their parents. You will not fail to be enthused by the work being done and the obvious impact on the young people. The Action4Youth team exudes enthusiasm, professionalism and total commitment. You will want to be a part of it!

If you are interested in joining our dynamic, respected organisation and want to help extend its reach, impact and influence, we would love to hear from you. We are particularly keen to speak to those with financial expertise, legal experience, business and life skills, who will play a key role in strengthening our Board.

Contact Jenifer Cameron, CEO for an informal conversation. Applications are by CV with covering letter to [email protected] by May 20th.

For further information about Action4Youth, visit, or find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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