Learning to Lead: Lessons from Oxford Hub’s Young Trustees Programme

Posted on: 21 February 2018

How do you create the next generation of charity leaders? Experience of frontline volunteering is invaluable for young people, but opportunities to see the other side of how charities work can be few and far between.

Thanks to the kind support of a local donor at the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, last year we launched the Young Trustees Programme at Oxford Hub. The scheme places Oxford University students in local trustee boards and equips them with essential skills including good governance, charity finance, risk management and board development. As our first cohort of young trustees celebrate the end of their 12 month placements, here’s a round up of what we’ve learned so far.

Age really is just a number

With the average age of trustees in England at 57 years, we are excited to help young people become the next generation of active trustees in the voluntary sector, and enable them to serve in local boards throughout their lives.

“18 to 24 year olds make up 12% of the population but we only make up half a percent of Trustee Boards in the UK […] having a young person come in is like a pair of fresh eyes. I think it works as a kind of symbiotic relationship, where we gain experience and skills and they gain our perspective and input.” – Emma Wells, 2nd year Politics, Philosophy and Economics student, young trustee at Oxfordshire Play Association.

Every board is different

That’s why at every training session participants share learnings from their placements and conduct a live case study with another more experienced local trustee. This preparation, alongside students’ attendance at board meetings, gives them a great balance of formal learning and experience. We hope this will equip them to serve effectively across many boards in the future.

Young trustees are something to shout about

From our perspective, one of the most rewarding parts of the programme has been seeing how young trustees are welcomed and valued by the rest of their boards. From appearing on Oxfordshire Community Foundation’s blog, to helping cut Archway Foundation’s 35th Birthday cake, it’s been fantastic to see such a positive response from our community partners.   

Quality training is key

The programme itself is based on a flipped learning model, whereby students work through online training and case studies, and then complete a workbook and quiz. Students subsequently come together for regular sessions at Oxford Hub where they can dig deeper into the topics they have learned about.

“I’ve got an understanding of a lot of the big issues that charities face, like event management, health and safety (especially when you’re working with kids), risk management and finances. My confidence has improved a lot – I’m happier and more vocal bringing my own ideas to the table.” – Emma Wells (as above).

Practice what you preach

As well as hosting a young trustee on our own board, Student Hubs encourages its staff to pursue trustee roles to aid their personal and professional development. Currently six members of staff take active roles on other charity boards, working with People and Planet, Response Centre, Age UK Oxfordshire, the Berin CentreINTRAC and Yellow Submarine.

Oxford Hub is excited to have just launched our second cohort of young trustees. To find out more visit the Hub’s website or watch this video feature from National Trustees Week 2017.

Students with certificates from the Oxford Hub Young Trustee Programme

Students from Oxford Hub’s Young Trustee Programme.

Rachel Marshall

Rachel manages Oxford Hub programmes, including the Young Trustees Programme.

Tags: Social Action, Third Sector


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