Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Trustee case study: Sean Rodwell – Trustee at Cyclopark

Sean Rodwell – Trustee at Cyclopark 

Sean Rodwell is 27 years old and has been a trustee for Cyclopark – a charity that operates Cyclopark on behalf of Kent County Council and its partners, for six months.

As a charity and a community sporting facility Cyclopark is committed to encouraging people to get active and on wheels.

Sean wanted to become a trustee because his day job as a Corporate Senior Auditor and Charity Specialist at Kreston Reeves involves working with charities and he wanted to get a better understanding of how they operate.

He has always been interested in volunteering and coaches a junior football team. He felt he had lots of relevant skills as an auditor to help the charity financially. He is also a keen sportsman and interested in all things active.

Sean is the youngest of 13 trustees on the board. He found out about the role through the Trustees Unlimited website and although the charity wasn’t specifically looking for younger trustees, he decided to apply.

The recruitment process was straightforward. Sean submitted his CV and covering letter explaining why he was interested in the role and was then interviewed by three trustees. He was invited back for a tour of the facilities with the CEO and after attending a board meeting as an observer, he was then appointed.

When he joined he was given an induction and the charity has a budget for on-going trustee training. Sean is fortunate in that through his day job he understands the role of charities better than most and even gives talks to others on how to become a trustee. However, he still thinks training is important for those that are not so familiar with the role.

He believes more charities should take on younger people but says there is a stigma amongst younger people about trusteeships.

He comments, “Most young people think trustees are retired or nearing the end of their careers, so they have a lot of time on their hands. There is a perception that it will take up a lot of time, but it doesn’t. In reality, the role takes up one or two evenings a month, perhaps a little more during key accounting periods.”

Sean really enjoys the role and learning about the how the charity operates. He also enjoys getting the experience of being on a board, something which he wouldn’t otherwise have the experience of at this stage in his career.

He says that the main challenge for him, which is probably the same for many younger trustees, is having the confidence to speak up at meetings.

 “It can be quite intimidating putting your ideas forward or challenging older trustees who have been there for years. However, this is what charities need younger people for, to offer fresh ideas, so you just have to be brave”.

“Charities should definitely recruit younger trustees to gain a different perspective on things and for young people, the role can be very positive. It looks good on your CV and can help if you want to go for another job – employers like to see that you do voluntary work and experience on the board also demonstrates leadership and governance knowledge which can help in the ‘day job’.”

He believes charities could make better use of LinkedIn and twitter to recruit younger people. They should also talk more to businesses to help recruit as they could let their employees know about opportunities.

He concludes, “Charities should be bolder in their approach and not just use the same recruitment channels. Many businesses have young people that would be keen to volunteer they just don’t know how to go about it and what the role entails, which charities could be proactive in changing.”

With thanks to Trustees Unlimited for the use of this case study.

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