The voluntary sector needs more young people as trustees, Joe Irvin tells parliamentary meeting

The chief excutive of Navca tells the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering that the sector has an 'appalling record' of getting young people onto boards

Joe Irvin
Joe Irvin

The charity sector has an "appalling record" of getting young people into trustee roles, according to Joe Irvin, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca.

Speaking from the floor yesterday about young people and the voluntary sector at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering, Irvin said: "We’ve got to look at ourselves in a number of ways – there is an appalling record of encouraging young people onto our boards."

He told the meeting that the sector also needed to look more broadly at whether it was getting enough young people into jobs and apprenticeships in the sector. "We’ve really got to look at ourselves in that regard," he said.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, and Matt Hyde, chief executive of the Scout Association, who were speakers at the meeting, said that young people were increasingly interested in the charity sector and in social value outside the sector.

"The evidence shows that this is an optimistic generation – but how do you seize that?" asked Hyde.

He said studies had shown that today's younger generations have motivations very different from those of their parents. "All the evidence shows that Generation Y, flowing through the Millennials and into Generation Z, is pre-disposed to wanting to give and have meaning in their lives," Hyde said.

Pointing to the example of the expansion of the Charityworks graduate scheme, Hurd said: "Young people are increasingly drawn to working in the sector.

"They’re even going into Goldman Sachs nowadays and saying ‘what are you giving back?' In my day it was just ‘what are you going to give me?'"

Hurd said he was concerned about the way youth services were being affected by local government cuts. "A source of concern for me is that at local authority level a lot of money is coming out of the system, and many of them are finding it too easy to cut the budgets of youth services in very drastic ways," he said.

But he said his comments did not mean he believed "that everything that has been or will be cut was worth preserving" as he understood that there were hard decisions to be made about funding.

Also speaking on the panel was Jennie Butterworth, chief executive of the youth enterprise charity Envision, who said she wanted to see more embedding of social action into education and better leveraging of corporate funding of such programmes. She said the youth sector needed to ask how it could get more bang for the corporate buck.

The meeting also included the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s very brief annual general meeting, which resulted in all of its existing committee members being returned to office.

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