Case study: Trustees just keep getting younger

Children's mental health charity YoungMinds is to appoint junior members to its board.

The challenge

YoungMinds, the children's mental health charity, was keen to involve children and young people in governance and policy decisions. It thought that by taking account of their experiences and including their opinions in the strategy and policy-making process it would be able to improve its services and campaigning.

The process

YoungMinds appointed its first children's and young people's participation manager, Carly Raby, in January.

Raby decided to set up two children's panels - one web-based panel that would communicate with emails, and one that would meet regularly at the YoungMinds offices in London.

She invited applications for membership of the panels from children who have experience of the kinds of issues and services the charity deals with, but are now emotionally healthy enough to discuss them in a group environment. Young people of all ages were encouraged to take part.

Raby also approached YoungMinds' board to see how it would feel about a few of the panel members becoming fully-fledged trustees. The board agreed - as did the panel members.

"I gave the panel a choice because I thought it might be a bit boring, but they were passionate about being involved in all of it," Raby says. Further interviews were held with panel members who wished to become trustees.

Raby also approached volunteering charity v, which has its own young people's advisory board, for help training panel members in the skills they would need. For example, the child trustees will be offered financial training so they can make the same kind of fiscal decisions as their adult colleagues.

The outcome

The first panel meetings will take place in June. They will involve children and young people aged between six and 23. Three panel members, aged 12, 17 and 19, will join the trustee board later in the year.

Raby intends, initially at least, to attend all panel and board meetings to ensure the children receive the extra support they might need. "I'm quite keen for the other trustees to take on mentoring roles as well," she says.

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