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MEET JOE STOCKLEY

Megan Raybould

23 September 2020

Joe is a trustee for Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and the British Youth Council (BYC). In this blog he shares his experiences and tips for young people starting out as trustees.

Hi! My name is Joe Stockley, and I’m a trustee for Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and the British Youth Council (BYC). I also run Communications for an equality charity in Wales called Diverse Cymru, and have worked with and around the British Youth Council and youth voice for the last six years.

I’m really glad to be writing this for the Young Trustees Movement, I’ve been a young trustee for 3 years, and I am passionate about the work they are doing.

I’m going to be quite exhaustive in this blog, I’ll describe my roles, one big charity, one small charity, in a bit of detail to begin with, and then I’ll give you some tips to bear in mind. This is because it’s easy to read lots about young trustees, and why they’re really important, but it’s more difficult to hear about the minutia, the day to day of a trustee’s work schedule. If you’re thinking, but not sure about making the jump to becoming a trustee, this blog is for you!

Read this blog, and I hope it helps.

Where are you as a trustee? And what does your role entail?

To give you an idea of time investment – that’s always the first question, I probably spend about 8 hours a week on my two trusteeships, but don’t freak out – about 3/4s of that time is time specific, with extra responsibilities on my shoulders during COVID.

So, I have two roles as a trustee:

BYC (due to the size – around £1m turnover/16 staff, and nature of the organisation – youth voice, project heavy) can be a more hands-on role, I put in about an hour to two hours a week; whereas

WCVA (due to the size - £16m turnover/88 staff, and nature of the organisation – supporting the third sector in Wales, development and support function) where my role is very top down. I put in around 6 hours a week – mostly down to chairing a COVID funding panel.

With WCVA I see a lot of final drafts of content (unless I’m involved in the working group on something), it could be the latest financial forecast, or a draft risk register for the next 6 months. The amount of implied knowledge in conversations is very high – each set of board papers may run into the hundreds of pages, and they are generally assumed read and agreed. This can make the step up quite challenging, but also a very important one, as you may be reading a policy that hasn’t been reviewed in 8 months, for example, and lots can change in 8 months, just think – we were working as normal at the start of the year, everyone was convinced 2020 was going to be a good year, no-one had heard of COVID or would dream of a nation-wide lockdown. Going through documents such as a subsistence policy becomes of vital importance – people aren’t travelling across Wales to meetings, but it may help morale to discuss a broadband allowance. I also chair funding panels as a result of my trusteeship with WCVA, a requirement of sitting on the board. This involves being a critical friend to the grants team to ensure money is spent in the most valuable way possible.

With BYC the role is different. It is heavier on ambassadorial duties, heavier on being at the front of media when needed, maybe proof-reading fundraising bids, maybe ensuring the protocols for running an effective board are in place. This is, if anything, more intimidating, made further so by the fact that our whole board are under 25. There is no-one to hide behind. If you’re not committed enough, or you haven’t read the board papers, it becomes eminently noticeable, because of the smallness of the group. With challenge comes reward though. Decisions the board makes will help or hinder in a far more visible way, and that is always an inspiration to bring your best to each interaction.

Where I am as a trustee fluctuates on how the imposter syndrome of being a young trustee is making me feel that day – examining the four stages of learning would probably put me at somewhere between conscious incompetence and conscious competence. But the important thing I have to remember about the stages of learning is that they’re circular, and without attention you can easily slide back!

Any tips for other people looking for trusteeships or starting out as a young trustee?

On looking for a trusteeship - Get in touch with your favourite charity. If you don’t have a favourite charity, make a list of the causes you care about, and then google those causes in your county, or your country. Jot down the top three that catch your eye. Then email them, or ring them. Check their website. Get in touch with your local CVC, or your national membership body, and ask. If they do have a trustee vacancy going and it’s not clear if they want a young person, get in touch with them and ask if they’d consider it – maybe they just haven’t thought about a young trustee!

There are always opportunities on Recruit3 if you’re in Wales, Charity Job, Linkedin – a whole range of places to look. When you’re confident you’ve found a role you like, put them into the charity commission website, and take a look at their annual report, their finances, their trustees. Check their socials, this is a good way to get to understand an organisation. It’s worthwhile dropping an existing trustee a message as well, they might answer any questions you have..

Tips for starting out:

  • Ask where you work if they do volunteering leave. If they don’t, it’s no harm done. If they do, you’ve just got a few hours a month you can now spend on your trusteeship.
  • Bleeding in from the first point - setting aside devoted time is the most important thing for me as a trustee to keep on top of the information. If you don’t do this, it can be easy to slip into presenteeism, and you won’t ever comprehend the full spectrum of the work your organisation is doing.
  • Understand. Basic. Finances. I’d put this first but not enough people talk about volunteering leave. This is the most important tip for a young trustee, and it can seem like the scariest one. If your experience of budgeting is done on the back of a bit of paper once a month, it can seem quite intimidating to have to then understand the finances of an organisation with turnover probably much higher than your own. But that is your legal duty as a trustee, and the foundation of being a good trustee (You don’t have to learn on your own though. There’s lots of great support out there – @ me if you want any help).
  • Recognise you’re a part of a growing network. Lean into that. There are more young trustees than there’s ever been, and those young trustees are changing the world. Learn from them. Question them.

Finally - don’t be afraid. Trusteeships can seem big and scary, but you, your skills, your experiences, and your attitude are all enough. If you want to commit to making real difference, to support a cause you care about, and give it the time it needs and deserves, there’s a trusteeship for you.

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