Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Ashley Sweetland UK Youth Parliament

I got involved with the UK Youth Parliament in 2000. I had been chair of Bournemouth Youth Council since the age of 15, meaning that I'd already picked up skills through sitting on local authority scrutiny committees and going to formal meetings. In Bournemouth, the key issue was the lack of youth provision - there simply wasn't enough for young people to do.

I became a trustee of the Youth Parliament in 2003. A year and a half later, I became the chair of trustees.

In many cases, charities work or support young people but don't involve them at decision-making levels. They need to take that seriously and look at how they can involve young people without them having to become trustees - operationally, you can involve young people as advisers, staff, volunteers or interns.

I have a real interest in the Charity Commission's Get On Board campaign. I've been talking to the commission for a long time to ensure more young people are appointed to trustee boards.

The commission has gone through a really exciting period of change and wants to be more relevant and supportive to young people as trustees, and some of its new resources are excellent.

Equally, there's no reason why it can't have a young person's commissioner who supports charities with a young people's agenda.

But what do we mean when we talk about young people? You can now be a trustee from the age of 16, but when the UK Youth Parliament talks about young people it actually refers to those who are under 25. When the commission talks about young people, it means under-40s.

I'm now 21, and being a trustee is really rewarding. But when my time comes to an end, that's fine. Some trustees don't realise that it's not necessarily a job for life.

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