Trustee talk: The value of being a young trustee

Jack Goldfinch, founder and trustee of youth charity SE1 United, talks to George Mitton.

I helped to found SE1 United when I was 13. Like many young people, I was bored with my area and used to be a bit of a thug. So I set about designing a community centre for our area with some friends and eventually we received a grant to build it. Five years down the line, we're bigger than we ever expected.

The idea behind SE1 United is that it's a youth forum. Young people make the decisions. We're in control. So it makes sense for young people to be trustees of the charity.

We set up and fund youth-led activities and trips for young people in south London. We offer new opportunities and try to raise aspirations. We are also here to give young people a voice in their communities.

I've been a trustee for a year. The role requires me to attend general meetings, where we set the agenda for the charity and discuss how we're going to meet our targets. It also involves consulting the young people who benefit from the work we do. I'm the same age as them, so I think I understand what they want from the charity, because I want the same things myself.

One thing I've found difficult is that, besides being a trustee, I'm also a young person who attends the events we organise. This means I've got two roles and I'm kind of stuck in the middle.

When I'm at an event, sometimes I ask myself whether I am there as a trustee or as a young person. It can be hard to balance my responsibilities as a trustee with my other work for the charity.

Despite these difficulties, I think it's a great idea to have young people as trustees. In my case, it's meant I've been able to prove I can handle responsibility. Some people are surprised when I say that I'm a trustee of the charity - they say "hold on, you're only 19 years old". They think that you've got to be older and more experienced to be a trustee. But I say that if I can do it, it doesn't matter if I'm 19 or 90. A year on, I think I've shown that I can fill the role well.

I'd definitely be interested in becoming a trustee for another charity in the future, providing it involved young people and did positive work to help them change their lives. That's what I care about.

I'd definitely recommend becoming a trustee to other young people. I've been telling the other young people who come to the SE1 United events that they should do it too.

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