Trustee talk: A trusteeship can give you a boost

Nathalie Thomas talks to Abi Carter, a new board member at the Citizenship Foundation.

I have been a trustee of the Citizenship Foundation for less than two months. Just before Christmas, I responded to an advert in the national media in which the foundation said it was looking for someone with a background in youth participation.

I knew the organisation and the type of work it does fairly well because in my day job I work as a national coordinator for the Participation Workers Network for England, which is based at the Carnegie Young People Initiative. It's an online network that aims to improve the way practitioners, organisations, policy makers and young people access and share information about involving young people and children in decision making.

The recruitment process was fairly swift - I responded by the closing date at the end of December and I was invited to attend an interview in mid-January. They let me know the result within a few days.

I thought becoming a trustee would be a good learning experience for me. I work for a voluntary organisation and my job involves having to report to, and work with, the trustees. I thought it would be helpful for me to understand the governance of a voluntary organisation from the other side of the fence, so to speak. Knowing how to talk to and deal with trustees will, I hope, help me to perform better in my day job.

I also thought it would be good for my career development. There comes a point in the voluntary sector, after people have been working in the sector for a couple of years, when people start to take up trusteeships in order to broaden their experience. Depending on your particular position, it can sometimes be hard to improve and move up quickly through the ranks. Becoming a trustee is a good way of developing yourself. A couple of my colleagues at Carnegie are trustees as well, so it's definitely a common theme.

This is my only trusteeship - some of the other board members sit on the boards of other charities as well - so I'm looking to put quite a lot of time into it. I'll obviously have to attend the board meetings, for which there is usually quite a lot of reading to do, but the Citizenship Foundation also holds a lot of events for young people. I have signed myself up for several of those over the next few months, because I am hoping they will give me more of an idea about precisely what the charity is involved with.

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