Note: the browser you are using is out of date and this website may not work properly. Please upgrade your web browser.

blog • Story


Megan Raybould

22 July 2020

We chatted to Rachelle about her role a Treasurer, chairing the sub-committee and her top tips for starting a trusteeship.

In this series we're sharing experiences, tips and ideas about trusteeship from our members in the Young Trustee Movement. This week we’re excited to introduce Rachelle Angeline!

Rachelle is a Trustee of CAYSH, a youth homeless charity based in East Croydon. She been a trustee for about 3 years and has chaired the Finance and Development subcommittee (FDC) for 1 year.

We chatted to Rachelle about her role a Treasurer, chairing the sub-committee and her top tips for starting a trusteeship.

What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies and interests?

I’m really passionate about people having a safe place to call home. It’s an area I work on in my day job and in volunteering for other organisations too. I see having a stable home as the foundation to enable anyone to thrive and live fulfilling lives.

I’m also really passionate about making sure young people have the opportunity to build aspirations and work towards living their full potential. I think that is why being involved in a youth-focussed charity was important to me and I’m so proud to be a trustee for CAYSH who work so hard to provide support and housing for their young people.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a trustee, how did you get to this point?

I heard about CAYSH through a colleague, Chris, who had previously been a trustee for the organisation. At the time, I had recently finished working alongside similar organisations in the West Midlands and Manchester on the performance management of their youth homeless programmes and I was interested in bringing the experience I’d gained to a Trustee role and so hearing about CAYSH from Chris was quite timely. He recommended I get in touch with Mick who chaired the FDC subcommittee at the time and is now the Chair of Trustees.

I had an initial meeting with Mick and then had a second meeting with Hannah who was the then chair of the People and Services subcommittee. It was useful to have those meetings in advance as I was able to find out more about the organisation and the role before joining.

What does your role entail?

I am about 3 years into being a trustee. For the first half of this tenure I sat on the main board and as a member of the FDC. At the time I joined many people were stepping down and so everyone was also a member of one of the two sub-committees. I joined the FDC as it most strongly aligned with my skills and experience in social investment, data and performance management.

Why did you decide you wanted to be a trustee? And, how did you first hear about what a trustee was?

I had heard of trustee roles when I was quite young, probably age 16, and so I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a trustee. However, I knew that I didn’t want to become a trustee until after I graduated. This was because I believed I would only have something to offer an organisation after this point. In hindsight I can see that was more about the confidence I had in myself and I wish I had made the decision to become a trustee earlier. It wasn’t until a few years after graduating that I started to really think about applying to become a trustee and looking into the roles and organisations.

I remember feeling confused about how to apply and how to find an organisation that aligned with my values which was really important to me. As a trustee of a charity you have to be willing to be their champion and a trusted critique and finding an organisation with a mission I strongly believe in means I can be comfortable in stepping up to play both of those roles.

What’s been your greatest reward on your trustee journey so far?

I think I’ve met some incredibly passionate people who I may have never crossed paths with had it not been for CAYSH. These are people working in a diverse set of fields, with very different reasons for wanting to become a trustee but who are all passionate about the mission of the organisation. They are bringing so many complementary skills to the group and I’m really enjoying working with them and observing how they apply these skills. In the process I’m learning more about who I am as a person and what I have to offer as a leader and as a team member.

What’s been your greatest challenge in your role as a trustee to date?

As a group we need to be effective decision makers. It’s important that everyone has the chance to speak up and to raise their concerns, or simply to ask clarification questions so we have a shared understanding of the impact of the decisions we are making. We also need to make these decisions in a timely manner as they directly impact on people’s lives.

We’ve been successful in attracting lots of new trustees over the past year, some young and some a little older. It’s meant that we’ve had new people on the FDC sub-committee at the same time as I’ve been getting to grips with taking on the role as Chair. What this has meant is that you have new trustees asking questions about the current agenda but also about the history and decisions made in previous meetings so that they understand how we have arrived at the position we are currently in. We have a very diligent group and they’ve brought in new perspectives and insight and so I’m really supportive of their questioning and I’ve tried to actively give them the space for this. The challenge is that balancing this with the time available at the meetings to cover all of the topics on the agenda.

I think comes down to working well together as a group of trustees and first and foremost developing an environment where everyone is comfortable to share their views and I think we have developed this.

What’s the biggest misconception there is about young trusteeship?

To me, the biggest misconception I’ve come across in conversations with people of any age is that young people do not have the experience or expertise to become a trustee.

Firstly, I think that is just incorrect. There is often a perception that the causes important to young people are trivial and so others outrightly dismiss the experience young people gain when they relate to these causes. Young people are leaders, they are activists, they have opinions and they are outspoken. I see these misconceptions arising when other people do not take the time to understand young people, the causes that they are passionate about or how they are applying their skills to these causes that matter to them.

Secondly, I wouldn’t even say that a lack of experience is a bad thing. I feared becoming a trustee at an even younger age because I was worried that I wouldn’t know enough but the truth is that being a trustee isn’t always about what you already know, but about the questions that you ask. I’ve found that young people are more likely to interrogate what is presented to them and less likely to accept information at face value. And you need that to govern well, to make sure that you understand the assumptions behind the management team’s decisions and are comfortable in the actions being taken.

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

If you are looking to become a trustee I would ask yourself a few questions to help you find the right organisation:

  • What is there a social issue that you care most about? You may be issue agnostic or you may really want to put your efforts into supporting a particular cause
  • Is there an area that you care about? Maybe you want to be a trustee of an organisation that operates in the area you grew up in, or the area you are living in now. Maybe you want to support a national organisation.
  • How much of your time can you offer? Different organisations will set different frequencies of meetings. Additionally, you may sit on a subcommittee which will require attending additional meetings. It is worth finding out how much time you will be expected to dedicate to meetings and that you are able to commit. Reading papers in advance also takes time and is important to factor in.
  • Are you looking to develop a skill or build experience in the process? Some trustee roles require you to take on more responsibility, e.g. being a Chair, or ask that you bring a particular expertise to the group e.g. safeguarding. Alternatively, you may want to develop your leadership, or teamwork skills in the process. As a trustee you are volunteering your own time and it’s valuable to reflect on what you will gain out of the experience so that you do truly benefit from being a trustee too.

Book a Training Session

Join a 1 hour training session to understand the power of young trustees, have a framework to understand how to approach board diversity and take practical next steps.